With co-working spaces sprouting as many young people turn to entrepreneurship and embrace working from home, it is so easy to forget the No. 1 workspace you can ever have; your own home!
This has nothing to do with COVID’s demand to working from home; the concept began way back before the pandemic. A quick dissection on turning your home into a workspace reveals a number of benefits. You have quick access to the kitchen for free coffee, a washroom you are acquainted to, a working area you can adjust as you wish, and you don’t even have to pay extra rent to work from there.
Of course there is the joy of working from your favorite coffee shop, your friend’s office or the newest co-working space in town. Each of these showers you with chances of meeting a new client. But if you are just starting your venture, the need to save every shilling high.
So while leaning on the ‘Stay home Stay safe’ slogan, why not turn your home into that workspace you have been dreaming about, enjoy the comfort and save some moolah!
I have nothing against co-working spaces. After all, there are already three of them near me; Close the Gap hub , Mombasa Works and SwahiliPot hub, and a little bird just whispered of a new one coming soon!
You can’t blame anyone for their presence, the beautiful beaches and relaxed atmosphere exhibited by this coastal city are irresistible. And anyway, rental fees in Mombasa are disheartening to say the least. Such won’t let the small businesses thrive!
So where does that leave a young innovator or entrepreneur?
5 Questions To Ask If You Want to Turn Your Home into a Workspace for Your Business
What’s the nature of your business?
Begin by determining the physical space you need to get the major part of your work done.
If you were to work from a coffee shop or co-working space, the most you would be offered are a desk and a chair. The rest of the space would be shared, especially when you need to relax.
Such spaces favor those whose work is limited to a laptop and internet connection like freelance writers, software developers, web designers and the graphics folks. But if your work demands more space than these, your home may be the best option. This is why.
Besides the benefits stated earlier in this article, you can push your furniture around at home to make space for your work desk. Better still; convert some of it to office furniture. You can also make changes to access fresh air, good lighting and a suitable view to keep your brain upbeat at no extra cost.
If your business requires larger floor space, maybe because you have equipment that demands such, even a co-working space won’t save you. You may be headed for some office space; your kitchen maybe?
But that leads us to the next point.
Do you need special equipment, and if so, how often?
Some co-working spaces go out of their way to provide more than a desk and chair. For example, Close the Gap hub in Mombasa has a well-equipped room branded, Makerspace where you can access a 3D printer if you need such for prototyping and a computer if you have none. While these may attract an extra cost, they ensure you have coffee and water all through your stay.
But membership costs at a co-working space don’t come easy and may beat the idea of running your startup from there. So, in the name of applying circular economy principles, you could turn your home into your workspace and when you need the extra equipment, go to the co-working space. This reduces wastage of resources; your home is hugely used, and the equipment at the co-working space put into good use. It also saves you the agony of buying and maintaining your equipment then having it lay idle when you aren’t using it.
Where should you meet your clients?
Having a dedicated office enables you to meet your clients with ease since that bit of reality is factored in automatically. But when working from home, you need to plan how, when and if you have the muscle to bring your clients in.
Say your home is one sizable room with everything within vicinity save the bathroom and toilet. But you live in Kenya where a client can deny you business just by the first look you portray. That leaves you at the mercies of buying your client coffee at a decent restaurant to close that deal. Some co-working spaces however provide private rooms where you can conduct close conversations with your clients.
But if you have a spacious living room, dedicated home library and have no problem inviting your client there, then why not?
While in this neighborhood, consider various ways you can reach your target clients to warm them up to your product now that they can’t drive into your home like they would a shop. Chances are you are already posting cool photos of your product on social media and asking for phone numbers from those who show interest. But have you thought of email marketing?
This works well when you have a website with an active blog that invites your online visitors to subscribe so you can capture their email addresses. Then, you can send them emails regarding your business. It’s an affordable marketing strategy and it works like magic!
What’s your preferred working atmosphere?
Working from home can leave you tucked away from the mass such that you only make contact with those you live with.
If this works for you and you are able to make sales, be productive and remain sane, bravo! Home is where you belong.
But for those of us who recharge through meeting new faces, working from home should be taken with a pinch of salt. Consider having coffee dates outside your home with friends and clients about twice a week. Such meetups restore the much needed sanity.
While you may meet other people at co-working spaces, not all have the time to chitchat. However, you could push yourself to forge a ‘friendly’ co-working relationship with one or two regulars so you can keep your brain stimulated. And who knows, they could convert them to product fans or sworn clients!
Can you formulate a working habit?
Let’s be honest, since childhood, home is where we come after a long day away, to rest. So don’t take for granted that your body will accept two-timing on your home. The pandemic may have commanded us to work from home, but it didn’t give us the manual to make the command work or repair it if it breaks.
So how do you draw the border between your work activities scheduled for the day and the crave to kick back and relax as you ought to?
First, have anyone who lives with you understand that you work from home and therefore will need a conducive environment to concentrate on your work.
Then, specify the key working hours and that you may need a few more during overflow. Say, in the middle of the night.
Again, setup your working spot while being mindful of other home users.
Finally, plan each day and adhere to the schedule you have set. Of course there are days you will find yourself breaking your own rules. But remember, if anyone is going to take your work-from-home schedule seriously, they will only follow in your footsteps.
One of the items I have found important in formulating a work-from-home habit is a work calendar toning down to each day. Ensure you fill in the work planned for each day and adhere to it. You will realize that you can plan your whole week and even month, everything including the coffee dates coercing those you live with to honor your working hours. Especially if you have a spouse or children who need your attention from time to time.
Hang your work calendar near your work desk to turn the spot sacred. And when you insist on working within the time you set, you will be surprised how fast everyone else follows suite.
When starting out, turning your home into a workspace may not feel comfortable, but comfort is a thing of the mind and only you can turn that resting place into a sacred workspace and run your business successfully. Most freelance workers work from home and remain productive year in year out because they have mastered the art. It’s your turn now.