Running a business with no office has complications but is doable. Here's how.
Many modern businesses don't have offices, a decision that might seem strange, but can actually save money and encourage work-life balance. In fact, according to research by Jabra, four times more employees now than in 2015 view working from home as the most productive option. There is no shortage of remote workers today, with advanced tech making remote work possible and even convenient.
However, certain types of businesses might manage better than others when run strictly from home. For example, a consulting company or an online clothing shop might be easier to maintain remotely than a large corporate finance company.
Running a business with no office will certainly have complications, and it might put a time restraint on your endeavor as your business grows. How long the model of working remotely is sustainable is a question many in the business.com community have asked. To find the answer, we interviewed experts and found that with the right plan, you can run a business without an office indefinitely. Here's how.
1. Create a workspace in your home.
You don't want to roll out of bed, grab your laptop, and start working under the covers with bedhead and pajamas on. Or maybe you do (we're not judging). However, if you're running your entire business from home, you should set up a productive workspace that mimics an office to increase productivity.
"Setting up an environment that is strictly your workspace is key," said Becky Bavli, CEO and founder of T is for Tame. "It should be clean, bright and organized. I made the mistake early on of working in a neutral space in our home, and was quickly sucked into the day-to-day of running a house and caring for our kids."
When you're working in the same space you sleep, do chores and host gatherings, you're more tempted by distractions, hindering your performance and focus. If possible, designate a small part of your home to your work; if not, at least sit at a table or desk in a quiet area.
2. Set flexible work hours.
You and your employees don't need to work strict business hours, so long as you are getting your work done and effectively communicating with each other. Discuss what works best for both ends and stick with that plan.
"As technology advances and business becomes more on demand, work is no longer a 9-to-5 job that's done exclusively from an office," said Holger Reisinger, senior vice president of large enterprise solutions at Jabra. "Nor is it a single linear activity, but rather a series of shorter sprints scattered throughout the day. Instead of trying to achieve a work-life balance, we can take advantage of work-life integration, where employees enjoy the autonomy to do their jobs when, where and how they need to – just as long as they do it well and on time."
Also, be aware of how much you work – and don't go overboard. It's easier to work longer hours from home because you don't have to worry about a commute, but don't let it consume your entire day. While it might be tempting to log in for a few hours over the weekend to take care of a project or to work 12-hour shifts on busy days, you shouldn't make it a habit. Set reasonable, flexible hours, and treat off hours for what they are – time off.
3. Get out of the house.
You might not own an office that is strictly for your business, but you can and should work outside of your house from time to time. Whether you rent co-working spaces for meetings with clients, grab a coffee and spend the day at a cafe, meet up with colleagues for lunch while discussing projects, or attend networking events during work hours, you will feel more productive and motivated when you aren't confined to one room.
"I would go crazy if I stayed in my house all day and worked, and spent the evenings here as well," said Bavli. "I have several spaces I go to, including Panera Bread and Starbucks, to help break up the week. I don't have an office, per se, but I've created office-like environments near my home."
You should also make an effort to connect with others in your industry, attending networking events or collaborating with fellow entrepreneurs. For instance, Bavli joined entrepreneurial groups with like-minded women, who she meets with regularly for motivation and inspiration.
"Working from home doesn't have to mean always being at home," she said.
4. Invest in the right tech.
Since you're saving money by not having an office, you can likely afford valuable tech for your business's needs. Running your business from home, you'll want to have the right technology and software to ease day-to-day operations, like payroll and document management.
Also, since you're not working side by side with your employees, you should ensure you have an efficient way to communicate with them, whether that's video conferencing services or messaging software like Stride and Slack. If you want to keep a closer eye on remote workers, utilize time and attendance software.
5. Set ground rules.
You’ll need to set ground rules for those you share your home with. If you have a spouse, children or roommates, you’ll need to let them know when you shouldn’t be disturbed. Basic guidelines of how to know when you are busy with work and what to do if they need you are essential for maintaining productivity. You may find it effective to have them "leave a message" by writing it down so you can check it when you take a break.
6. Take a break.
Allow some flexibility in your schedule, but set regular break times for yourself and your employees. Don’t short change yourself on your break in an attempt to boost productivity. According to PCMag, studies show that breaks actually increase your productivity when taken correctly. The optimal break time is 12% of your work hours with shorter more frequent breaks being more effective.