What makes a company official and reputable? For many years, part of the equation included an expensive office with a fancy lobby. But these days, an office is not a business essential like it was in the past. Thanks to the power of the web, remote workers can keep a company running from far-flung destinations. In fact, business has come so far that many businesses don’t need an office at all. Let’s take a look at some common scenarios where a company could do just fine, if not better, without a central office.
Your customers don’t visit you at work.
In the show Better Call Saul, struggling lawyer Jimmy works out of a tiny office in the back of a nail salon. The office doubles as his home during a particularly tight financial period.
Of course, Jimmy can’t have clients over to visit this office. He goes and visits clients in other locations. I have met with clients at coffee shops, pubs, and conference rooms myself, but I’ve never had a need to bring a client over to the office for a meeting.
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If your business does not require customers to visit you at work, you don’t need a dedicated office in an office building or strip mall. You can work wherever you are most productive. That could be at home, it could be a library, it could be a warehouse, but it doesn’t have to be an office.
You are an online solo entrepreneur.
While my friend, freelancer Jason Steele, swears by his rented office space in suburban Denver, I do the same job out of my home. As a solo entrepreneur, I don’t have employees or team members to provide a workspace for, so I don’t have to spend the money on an office for them.
As a solo business owner with an online-focused business, I can literally work anywhere in the world with fast internet. In the last 18 months, I’ve worked in California, Colorado, New York, Oregon, Washington, Alabama, Nevada, Texas, Illinois, Arkansas, Florida, Canada, England, and France. There is no need to tie yourself down to one location when you can work online!
It is important to note that I work most often in my home office, where I have an external keyboard, mouse, and two big computer displays. I can work more efficiently at home with all of my fancy gear, but I can quickly unplug and take my laptop anywhere I need or want to work.
You are a technology or service business.
Entrepreneur Jesse Mecham is a smart guy. He believes everyone needs a budget and founded a software company, You Need a Budget (affectionately referred to as YNAB), to help people manage their budgets.
Jesse lives in Utah and regularly sees two members of the team in person at a small office – he told Mr. Money Moustache in an interview that his wife kicked him out of the house during work hours. But the rest of his team is completely remote. With about 57 workers spread around the globe, there is no need for a large central office. 32% of the team is on the West Coast, 24% in middle America, 27% on the East Coast, 15% outside the United States, and 1% living as digital nomads, Jesse has proven that you don’t need a physical location to succeed with a growing team.
A remote workforce has plenty of benefits.
Some bosses want to see their employees butts in their chairs five days per week, but the latest business trends show that remote workers may be more productive than traditional cubicle-based office workers.
Plus, no office means no rent, no utilities, no coffee maker and water cooler, no office phones, and many other financial savings. According to a report from startup incubator Y-Combinator, the median price for a startup office with ten employees is around $6,100 per month. Those thousands of dollars could be enough to hire another full-time employee, grow your brand through strategic marketing, or just stay in your pocket as profit. There are both practical and financial benefits to skipping an office!
Whatever you do, don’t automatically assume your business falls into a “one size fits all” model that requires an office. Maybe you’ll need an office someday, but don’t need one yet. Maybe you have one today, but realized you don’t need it anymore. Maybe you can follow in the steps of YNAB and build a company without ever declaring an office your official headquarters. You may find skipping the office leads to more success and financial savings. That’s a big win if I’ve ever seen one!
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