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Choosing where to work

Working from home. Renting a shared workspace. Moving into — or relocating to — your own premises.

There are pros and cons to each of these options.

Choosing where to work may come down to your situation and budget. But it’s important to think about what suits your working style too.

Working from home

Working from home can be convenient — especially if you work around other commitments, eg your family. But it’s not for everyone. It takes discipline to avoid distractions or avoid working too much.

Pros and cons

Upsides include:

  • You can arrange your working day to suit you.
  • There’s no commute.
  • You can wear what you like.
  • You can claim home office expenses on your taxes.

Downsides include:

  • It may be easy to get distracted by your home life.
  • It can be hard to log off at the end of the day.
  • Not having co-workers can be lonely.
  • Your workspace may eat into your living area.
If working from home could disrupt your home life, set times for work and stick to them.

If working from home could disrupt your home life, set times for work and stick to them.

Shared workspaces

Sharing a workspace — or co-working — is when you rent a desk or area with other self-employed people. Once mainly the choice of start-up businesses, co-working is now popular with a range of people, including sole traders. It’s a good way to beat the isolation you can feel when working for yourself.

Pros and cons

Upsides include:

  • Rent covers facilities, eg internet, IT support, meeting rooms, cleaners and kitchen supplies.
  • There’s a sense of community — sharing each other’s ups and downs.
  • You can learn from others’ successes and mistakes — especially people who have been in business longer than you.
  • There will be opportunities to network, hear about new opportunities and get advice from business mentors and other visiting experts.
  • It can make your business feel more established.

Downsides include:

  • Less control over your work area, eg noise or co-worker niggles.
  • Meeting rooms can get overbooked.
  • Longer commutes than working from home.

Find co-working spaces (external link) — Sharedspace

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Case study

Getting used to sharing

Dunc and his business partner have been working in a shared workspace in Wellington for the last two years.

“We looked into moving into our own premises, but were put off by the length of commercial leases — which were generally three years. We’re in growth mode and are not sure where we’ll be by then.”

“There’s a real buzz about this place — it feels like everyone’s got your back. It’s a bit like being in a flat-share or university. One of the downsides is that it can be noisy. You’ll notice most people working with headphones.

“It can be hard to find a quiet corner to make a phone call, and it’s a bit gutting if you’re still working on a deadline, or trying to close a deal, and everyone else is right beside you enjoying Friday drinks.

“That said, we’re really happy here. I think the things that annoy us, we’d miss if we moved into our own space.”

Getting your own premises

Moving to your own premises means more freedom and can make you feel like your business has taken a step forward.

You can either buy or lease your own workspace — both offer different levels of stability and flexibility. In either case, it’s big financial decision, so get good advice and do the sums. 

Pros and cons

Upsides include:

  • It can feel like a ‘proper’ business to you, your staff and your clients.
  • You can fit out your workspace how you want, eg with your branding.
  • You can control noise levels.
  • If you have staff, it’s easier to create a work culture in your own space.

Downsides include:

  • Leases for commercial spaces can be up to three years — meaning you have to really think ahead.
  • Paying commercial rent is an extra financial pressure if your business goes through hard times.
  • Unless you’re in a serviced office, you have to pay extra for things like cleaners, technology fit outs.

Serviced offices share facilities, eg a reception area, cleaners, power and IT, but each workspace is private.

If you’re thinking of moving into your own premises, but aren’t sure where your business might be in a couple of years, renting an area in a serviced office can be a good way to dip your toe in the water. They offer shorter leases and many allow you to increase and decrease the size of your area — so you can downsize or grow over time.

Serviced offices can be a good first step to getting your own space.

Serviced offices can be a good first step to getting your own space.

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