Being a contractor allows a level freedom that’s not available to most employees. With this autonomy comes the decision of whether to work from home or join an office. Research has shown that people are more productive when they’re alone, but more collaborative and innovative when together. We look at both options and highlight a few pros and cons.
Should you work from home?
Working from home is one of the most appealing aspects of being a contractor. Besides saving on transport costs, other benefits include flexible working hours and a less stressful environment.
Costs and deductions
As a contractor, working from home is one of the cheapest ways to start a business, as there are virtually no setup costs. In a recent survey, “working from home” was the primary reason motivating IT contractors to remain self-employed.
Having a home office could also enable you to claim back a portion your living expenses. We recommend checking with your accountant to find out exactly what and how much you can deduct.
Transport and time
In addition to saving fuel and money on car maintenance, you’ll also save time. You can look at adding an extra one to two productive hours to your day.
With no co-workers to get involved in watercooler gossip, you will reduce potential distractions and interruptions, allowing you to accomplish more in less time.
Or join an office?
Distractions and boundaries
These can be better managed when there is a clear distinction between work and home. It’s easier to leave work at an office when you don’t sleep in the room next door. Leaving home each morning will also effectively eliminate any unplanned interruptions by family and friends, who might respect a formal office more than your desk at home.
While there is much to be said for the effectiveness of online communication, many companies still prefer having people in the same room for meetings and idea sharing sessions. Being in the same office makes arranging these much easier.
Ensuring you get to an office by 09:00 can be a bit of a pain. However, if time management is not your strongest skill, not having a fixed schedule could be detrimental to your productivity. Since there is no pressure to start work at a certain time or dress a certain way it’s very easy to delay the start of work.
If neither of the above options appeal to you, there are a few compromises:
Renting a serviced office space
This will give you the freedom of a home office, with a professional area for client meetings when you need it.
If you decide to go this route, be prepared to fork out a few Pounds. This is by far the most financially demanding option, as you will pay for a monthly lease as well as transport and possible setup costs.
While costly, this is possibly the best option if you are a freelancer expecting to host regular client meetings. Meeting at a coffee shop once or twice might be acceptable, but in the long-term, an appropriate meeting space may be preferable.
Other services such as the Hot Desking Club allow entrepreneurs to rent a desk in a shared office space all around London. This option could be cheaper than renting an office and gives you the opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs and contractors.
Joining a members’ club
Whether you’re looking for a regular work space, meeting with clients or simply hoping to meet new business contacts there are a number of private members clubs in London offering spaces to suit your needs at a monthly membership fee.