During the pandemic, we’ve all learned a lot of valuable lessons. As we create our new normal, it’s the perfect time to take a look at some of the basics of our businesses and decide what we should continue and what needs to change. Almost all of us have had to alter our working situations, whether that means changing our hours, setting up our space for social distancing, or working from home instead of in an office. If you’re in the last category, you’re probably struggling with the decision of whether to go back to an office or continue working from home once you’re free to make this decision. So the question becomes, do I even need a physical office? The answer to that question is not a simple yes or no and will be unique for each of you. Here’s how to determine what’s right for you.
Avoid the Single Point of Failure Trap
If you’re ready to change your small business from a cash-eating monster to a money-making machine, you need to be flexible. If you’re not flexible, you’ll fall into the single point of failure trap where one flaw in your business causes the entire business to tank. One way to fall into this trap is to rely on only one office option. For example, if you relied on your physical office and could not transition that to a home setting, it’s likely your business was dealt a critical blow when the pandemic hit. Being open to and able to work in several environments (from home, from a coffee shop, from a physical office, etc.) is one way to avoid the single point of failure trap. Will you have a preference for one type of office setting? Sure, but knowing you can adapt to other environments is the key to flexibility.
So how do you determine your first choice when it comes to offices and whether or not you need to keep paying rent on that office space? Ask yourself the following questions.
Do I have the capability of having a remote office? Think about your business. Do you often have meetings or welcome clients or customers into your location? Do you have staff that works from an office? Was everyone able to work remotely when the pandemic hit or did you or others still need to come into the office to use equipment, perform vital tasks, or for other reasons? Obviously, there are some types of businesses that cannot go 100% remote. If yours can, you can move on to the next questions.
Am I an introvert or an extrovert? You are who you hang with, and the pandemic may have caused you to hang with a lot fewer people than you were pre-COVID. This should help you determine not only the quality of people in your life, but also your true nature. Some people thrived during the quarantine because they are natural introverts and loved the alone time or extra time with their close-knit circle. On the other hand, extroverts likely went a little nuts because they couldn’t be out and about and expressing their gregarious nature. If you’re an extrovert, that doesn’t necessarily exclude you from officing primarily at home. You’ll just have to create other outlets for interaction such as joining networking or community service groups or regularly meeting with mentors or colleagues. If you’re an introvert, you’re uniquely suited to working from home.
What is my home situation like? Some home situations are more conducive to productivity than others. If you don’t have young children at home, have a room that can serve as your office, and don’t have a lot of distractions that occur at your house, a home office might work perfectly. If you’re home situation isn’t a good environment in which to be productive, you can still consider working remotely from a coffee shop or other location and don’t necessarily need to have an actual office.
Do I enjoy travel and would I like to do it more? One of the great things about not having a physical office is that you can travel much more and not have to worry because you can work from wherever you are. Some enjoy travel more than others, and some are in a stage of life where travel is a priority (and is plausible.) Others are more homebodies or have kids in school, aging parents they’re caring for, or other factors that make frequent travel difficult or even impossible. If travel is high on your list, a remote office will fit right in with your plans.
Do I have a large clientele who feels secure by meeting in my physical office? You’ve probably noticed that some of your clients have really enjoyed meeting via Zoom or conference call in the last few months while others…not so much. This is likely due to both the industry you’re in and the types of clients you serve. If your clients are proficient in technology and don’t need your physical presence to make them feel secure, you can likely get away with not having an actual office. On the other hand, if your business has suffered because you haven’t been able to welcome clients into your office, you may have to consider keeping your physical space or come up with a solution to meet with clients in a meeting space you rent or reserve.
Now is the ideal time to decide if you really need a physical office space or not. Asking yourself the right questions and always remaining flexible is the key to making the decision that’s best for you. Want to learn more about how to pivot your business to ensure success? Take our Finance for Entrepreneurs course to get a broader understanding of the language of money.