Our professional world is changing. Thanks to the onset of new communications and organization technologies, and a little help from a millennial generation with different values than their predecessors, traditional tenets of office environments are starting to either change or disappear. Offices are becoming less necessary as physical institutions, and more flexible when it comes to etiquette, standards, and practices.
For the modern entrepreneur, it has now become possible to start a new company without a physical office at all; residing purely in a digital environment, entrepreneurs can theoretically connect to employees, partners, and clients without ever needing a physical place to cement everything together. There are some distinct advantages to this setup, but do they balance out the obstacles this model presents?
Let’s take a look at the advantages of starting a business without a physical office.
Lower Startup Costs
The startup costs for an office alone could be expensive. Every employee you hire is going to need his/her own equipment. You’ll end up spending thousands of dollars per employee to get them set up with a decent desk, chair, computer, and other supplies, not to mention any costs you might incur renovating and setting your place up. Also designing your office to make it work with your culture can also be a significant expense.
Less Monthly Overhead
Offices are ridiculously expensive, especially if you live in a major city. Rent, even for a small business location, will cost you thousands of dollars per month, and Internet alone will set you back at least another grand per month (not to mention all the utility costs you’ll accumulate). When you’re first starting out, with limited clients and limited revenue, these monthly expenditures are especially egregious, and can prevent you from becoming profitable in a reasonable amount of time.
Fewer Logistic Hurdles
When you’re starting a business, you don’t exactly want to dawdle. You may have quit your job, or you may have borrowed a lot of money. Whatever the case, you want to get going as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the time it takes to find a decent office and set it up properly is burdensome. It may take you weeks, or even months of scouting to find a location that’s convenient to you and your clientele, attractive enough to warrant a move, and appropriate for your budget. You’ll eliminate all these problems by forgoing the search altogether.
The average commute time in the United States, one way, is 25 minutes. That’s about an hour per day of lost time getting to and from your office, when you could be spending that time developing your business. Add in 5 employees, each saving 5 hours of productivity every week, and suddenly, your office-less business model is sparing a collective 30 hours of work every week—almost the equivalent of a full-time hire.
Supreme Hiring Flexibility
Starting up without an office also gives you more hiring flexibility. When you have a physical office, you need people to fill it—especially if you’re trying to make a good impression for your new prospective clients. Without one, it doesn’t much matter—you’ll be communicating from a distance either way. This means you’ll have far more flexibility when it comes to hiring; you can hire anyone in the country (or even someone outside it)!
Key Obstacles to Remote Employees
Now, let’s address some of the main obstacles you’re liable to face.
Communications technology is still evolving, but for the time being, it’s unable to fully replace face-to-face collaboration as the ultimate means of efficient exchange. You may find it difficult to hash out all your meetings and dilemmas using video chats and similar means of conversation.
Personal and Professional Lines
If you’re working from home, especially as an entrepreneur, the lines between your personal and professional life are going to blur. You’ll find yourself doing personal things on professional time and vice versa, and that can have a powerful psychological effect on your working ability and personal happiness.
Despite the advantages of office-less businesses, there are still many people who are impressed by a fancy office (or even any office). You won’t attract any walk-in clients or customers, and when you meet with new clients digitally, you may find it harder to establish a reputation for yourself.
It’s entirely possible to start a business in the modern era without a physical office to serve as an anchor point for the organization. There are many advantages to this, most of which involve reduced expenditures of time and money. The main obstacles—difficulty in collaboration, woes of working from home, and less walk-in traffic—are navigable and manageable, and may not even apply to all industries.
Ultimately, whether or not you launch with an office in place will depend on the unique requirements of your business—including your industry, your employees, and your clients.
Read more about remote work at TechCo