20 May 2024

Do I need an office when starting a business?

Executive Education
| The European |

In days gone by, it was received wisdom that when you started a business, getting an office was an integral part of the process. As we all know, the pandemic saw many businesses pivoting to working from home. Although a lot of organisations will retain this flexibility in the post-Covid era (especially through hybrid part office/part homeworking arrangements), the office will remain a major part of business life. If you’re thinking of starting a new business, then you may well be asking yourself whether operating an office will be necessary or not. So, let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of having an office, and which one you should choose.

What Are the Advantages of Having an Office?
Ok, so we all know our way around Zoom now! There’s no doubt that video communication software helped to keep business meetings going when meeting in person was forbidden. There’s also no question that the flexibility it offers means it will continue to be used by businesses big and small going forward. But, in business, there is simply nothing like face-to-face meetings to build relationships, establish trust and discuss deals. As a method of communication, it’s proven to be the most effective. One of the biggest advantages of having your own office is that it allows in-person meetings to take place in a business environment. If you’re looking to seal the deal, then a face-to-face meeting in your office is a great place to do it!

Another advantage is that while home-working suits some people, it’s not for everyone. Many people thrive in the professional setting an office offers. When work-life and normal life are separated, it is often easier to concentrate on one or the other and maintain a much stronger work-life balance. It is also far easier to train and mentor young or new employees in an office than over emails and video calls.

What Are the Disadvantages of Having an Office?
Although there are quite a few advantages to having an office, there are some disadvantages too. As a startup, money is usually in short supply and tight budgets must be followed. Maintaining an office can create significant overheads – space rental, energy, maintenance and cleaning costs can easily stretch into the thousands. Many startups simply can’t afford the outlay, and elect to forego an office as a result.

Another big disadvantage is the fixed location of the office. If you have a team that live locally to the office, that’s great. However, if you have employees based in multiple locations, then it can be inconvenient for them to commute to where you’re based. It can also limit your ability to recruit. If you have to employ locally, then you may struggle to find the skill sets and experience you’re looking for. With remote working, you have way more flexibility and you can fish in a much bigger and deeper pool.

What’s more, remote working is currently very much in the ascendant, and with Zoom, Skype and several other tools making communication across the globe simple, there often isn’t a need for a physical location in the digital age.

One other disadvantage of working in an office for some people is productivity. Some professionals find that they work ten times harder in their own home than an office, and when long commute times are also factored in, it’s easy to see why. Talk to the other members of your startup before making a decision to see which one would be best.

Make the Right Decision for your Startup
Every startup is different in its own ways. Although some may be more suited to having an office, others won’t. Make sure to ask yourself some key questions such as ‘do I need an office to attract more clients?’, ‘will my team be able to function properly without one?’, or ‘do I have the funds to rent an office?’ to see which option would be best for your startup. Remember, for many businesses in this digital era, the concept of physical location has become redundant. Many highly successful retailers, service providers and cryptocurrency businesses such as Bitcoin x exist almost entirely online.

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