Why Entrepreneurs Should Get Office Space and Quit Working from Home

working from home

I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two types of entrepreneurs: Those who shouldn’t work from home  … and those who shouldn’t work from home.

This epiphany has only dawned on me recently — after seven years of working from my home office and working with business partners and colleagues who do the same.

I’ve known people who simply couldn’t concentrate or focus or discipline themselves to do the work when they were at their house.  And, until recently, I thought those were the only types of people who shouldn’t work from home.

So why the change of heart?

For the past seven years, I’ve had a sweet home office set up:  An office on it’s own floor with its own bathroom, a couch and doors that close me off from the screaming kids temptations of goofing-off on the first floor.

Now, however, we are in the process of moving to Charleston, SC, where I have separate office space about 25 minutes from our home.  I thought it would be a culture shock to have to drive to an actual office each day — but the truth is that I absolutely love it.

Why? Simple: I’ve come to the realization that I’m the type of person who has trouble “turning off the work” when my office and home-life are so closely mixed.

Even though I’ve thought, for all these years, that my office was separate enough from the living space of our home — the truth is that my mind conditioned me to feel like I was waking up in my office, eating dinner at the office, and sleeping at my office.

Over the past year, I’ve developed a productivity schedule in which I don’t check email until 10 am., and hammer our 2-3 priority to-dos between 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. — but I would still feel enormously anxious that I wasn’t checking my email or writing memos when I woke up at 7 a.m.

However, when we’re in Charleston, I wake up with no temptation to check my email.  I focus on my family, eating breakfast with them and engaging in my morning ritual of working out on the beach.

My mind is conditioned that work starts when I arrive at my office at 9 a.m., and so it takes away the anxiety that comes from rolling out of bed into my workplace. Rather than try to get ahead of work in the morning, I schedule my work for when I”m physically in my office.

This also helps me to “turn off the switch” when I come home from the office.

I’ve found out that I’m not alone. Since I’ve had this epiphany, I’ve spoken with several other colleagues who feel exactly the same way.  They find it hard to turn it “on and off” when working from home; too easy to give into the temptation of running up to the office to check a few emails after dinner; drinking their morning coffee at their desk while they plow through emails.

Hence, my new belief that people either shouldn’t work from home because they can’t focus and get work done — and those who shouldn’t work from home because they try to get too much work done.

I’m sure there are probably some folks out there who are able to find that middle ground and make it work (or at least they think they’re making it work).

I thought I was one of those people.  But seeing the how the other half lives has made me realize that working from home seems great, but it’s actually more stressful than having a separate office.

8 Replies to “Why Entrepreneurs Should Get Office Space and Quit Working from Home”

  1. Youve nailed it on the head Curt! We are two web professionals working from home, and its hard to get even 25 productive hours I find what with the housework, child, and the phone… alas the local offices available are all unaffordable as yet, but we are definitely seeing the benefits of a small office space – with signage – where people can meet us in a professional space.

  2. Spot on Curt. I find I need to vacate my domicile to be more productive. Be it the local Caribou Coffee (now closed unfortunately) or the office down the street I share with our colleague Dennis Cook, I get lots more done if I am not in my home. Plus, the socialization aspect is critical. Being out among people gives me energy. Even the “white noise” of an office or coffee shop seems to help. I find it easier to concentrate in those surroundings than in the relative silence of my home. Sounds counter-intuitive but it works for me.

  3. I have run my photography business from my home for thirteen years. It has worked for me because I travel to all my clients instead of them coming to my business location. I do see your point though of spending too much time working when you should be enjoying family time. For now due to the high cost of rent and gas I think I’ll stick with working from home even if it is a bit dysfunctional. 🙂

  4. Curt, I agree. Working from home is not for everyone. In my first business, my business partners often struggled with working from home. We built our company in the basement and soon we grew to a point where we could afford an office space and when we did, I noticed a significant difference in the way he worked. Myself, I don’t struggle working from home at all. I believe it’s the same reason Scott gave, I also travel to see my clients on a regular basis but even if that wasn’t the case, I don’t mind working from home. I guess it’s also because I am single with no children or pets so I can focus easier 😉 Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this – I wonder if it will spur a rash of Office buys 🙂

  5. It’s interesting how this post has generated such strong feedback (both here and on Google+) that is truly split down the middle. People feel very strongly on both sides. I note that, until very recently, I felt very strongly about working from home versus an office. It was only after working a few weeks in my own office space that I realized the great benefits. Obviously, I understand that having an office space may be cost-prohibitive. I also realize that, if you have multiple people in an office setting, you have to be very focused to not waste time (more time is wasted in office cooler talk and needless meetings than anything else). For those who do work from home, I’ve had a great suggestion from a friend to get out every so often and work from a location outside your home. The white noise can help focus, and it sets a time limit for you to get your work done to stay productive.

  6. Welcome Curt to Charleston from fellow Charleston Business!
    I do see both sides…I have owned & operated by business for ten years. I have had it both ways – office space and in the home. I can say it does take discipline to have your office in your home. I am one of those while still in my PJ’s will return emails in the morning or return phone calls in the evenings while pausing my favorite TV show. But my clients, I believe, appreciate this quick response that I can only give if my office is always where I am. But for several years I had office space too and I did shut the office off in my mind more easily once locking up for the night. But I still prefer to have the office in my home – convenient, quick, easily accessible. When I walk out of the office part of the house, I shut the door and don’t enter the room unless work is to be done. While working from home, the hardest part is not to multitask with laundry, house chores – not to mention kids running in as their needs arise – you have to set your “Office Rules” and my family complies. I utilize video chat to meet with clients, so interaction has not been an issue as I do have clients in more than one state. Lastly, for those that are disciplined enough to work from home – you are saving money on renting office space, cost & aggravation of traffic & saving time with that short walk to the office in the home!(refer to Curt’s article of your time = money)
    The decision is as personal as your office chair, whichever you are most comfortable & most productive in. Good luck in either decision ya’ll…

  7. What a great article, there’s no doubt that working from home is not suitable for everyone, specially for those with kids and lousy neighbors. However, finding office space can always be an issue and that’s why many people simply decide to stay home.

    This is why at OfficeList, we provide free assistance for people looking for office space in the U.S. and Canada, we make sure you find an affordable option that can fill all your needs.

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