Having your own office is a milestone for many young entrepreneurs. Gordon Gekko’s office from Wall Street or pictures of Google offices can make anyone think that offices are a direct reflection of a company’s success.
The realities of the modern workforce are, however, quite different, and have much more to do with practical issues rather than appearances. For a very long time, having your own office was the only way to effectively supervise and communicate with your employees. Without the Internet, there was no way you could work with someone real-time without being in the same room (unless you were on the landline, which wasn’t the most convenient way of communicating).
Today, however, the possibilities for employer-employee relations are numerous. While even corporate giants like KPMG are beginning to utilize co-working spaces for their employees, many of the Fortune 500 giants like Apple and IBM are allowing their specialists to work remotely. Let’s talk about why these alternatives are worth considering and whether or not they’d be a smart choice for your company.
Is That a Palm Tree Behind You?
We’ll begin with the remote work model, since that’s where the revolution of the 21st century took place in terms of how we work.
Remote work requires a certain level of responsibility from the worker, just as it requires a certain level of trust from the company that’s hiring. However, it’s not about blind faith: you can easily keep your employees under supervision by using various project management apps like Asana or simply scheduling Skype conferences and setting strict deadlines. If they don’t deliver, they are not fit for this type of work. But there are millions of people who are.
However, outside of the potential for inability to cope with additional responsibility, there are many positive qualities about remote work. The whole employer-employee relationship becomes much more results-oriented, the workers are usually much happier and you save a ton of time and money on office expenses.
When does it make sense to hire remote workers? Here are a few ideas:
- When your startup is online service-based. The beauty of online services is in that pretty much all of the work can be done virtually. If you’re running, say, an e-commerce website, all of the work — website maintenance, marketing efforts, customer support — can be done remotely, except taking care of inventory (unless you’re into dropshipping).
- When the result matters more to you than actually seeing your workers every day. This is no joke — some people just feel better when they see their employees come to work day to day and see them work off the hours they’re paid for. Think really carefully whether you’d be able to trust your workers to do the job without your micromanagement and still live stress-free. Signing a remote job contract is a big deal for any employee, so make sure you know what you’re getting into so you don’t change your mind soon after.
- When you really want to cut down costs. Hiring remote workers is — by definition — a lean strategy, since you don’t have to pay for their computers, their lunch or their parking space. So if you’re into cutting all unnecessary expenses, hiring remote workers should be your first consideration.
The remote work model definitely works, but there are things to consider before embracing it. Firstly, it adds additional hassle, since you have to take care of smooth communication with and supervision of your employees. Secondly, you might not like working with people whom you don’t see often. Workplaces are where people spend a lot of time, and many of them use this opportunity to get to know their colleagues better. With remote workers, you won’t really have the chance to do that.
Back to Co-Working Spaces
For many young entrepreneurs, staying in co-working spaces isn’t an attractive idea at all. Hubs — another name for co-working spaces — is where you probably spend most of your working time anyway, along with cafés and libraries, and you finally want to get a corner of your own.
However, there are a few unbeatable advantages to co-working spaces that you might not have considered:
- You get to meet like-minded people. Despite the industry you’re in, connections are always important. Co-working spaces offer some of the greatest networking opportunities for young entrepreneurs, simply because most of the companies represented in hubs are in their start-up phases, which means there will never be an easier time to work with them. That’s exactly why you’ll often see angel investors scouting around hubs.
- You don’t have to worry about rent. Think of all of the procedures that renting an office for the first time would require. You’d have to visit several offices before you choose, go through the legal process of buying/renting a property, possibly re-design the place, buy equipment and do lots of other time-consuming things. Considering it’s your first office, your company probably isn’t at a stage where everything is automated, so your time and energy are probably much needed in other areas, like continuing to grow your company.
- It can be like an office. Many co-working hubs have separate conference rooms where you can sit down with your team and have a group meeting. Renting these rooms will cost you extra, but if your company has no need for very frequent meetings, you’ll still save a ton of money.
Co-working spaces won’t work for every company. If you’re used to working in a quiet environment, hubs probably aren’t an option for you, since they’re often filled with people.
If You Do Decide to Rent an Office…
…do it smartly. There are valid reasons why you’d want to have offices of your own.
Offices aren’t just about employee supervision and effective communication. Having your own offices opens up possibilities to create a unique company culture, something that directly affects how your workers feel in the workplace.
However, while the long-term opportunities that come with having a unique company culture can be bright, the short-term costs of setting up an office can be devastating to a young company. While there’s not much you can do about lease prices, you can save quite a lot of precious cash on office equipment.
Namely, you should use sales, coupons and cashback sites to get all of the inventory for a bargain price. Visiting a site like Chameleonjohn, Ebates or Retailmenot will show you all of the current saving possibilities from all major retailers. There are a myriad of coupons and sales going on at any one time at shops like Sears and Kohl’s, which means that you can equip your entire office for a great price, starting with coffee mugs and finishing with personal computers.