Do you have an office or are you running your business from your home?

Many practices today are investing in an office, and there are good reasons to do so.  I moved into my office in September 2016 but now three years later, when the lease came up, I decided to let the office go for a number of reasons. 

Firstly, as a business, we weren’t using it!  The office was set up as a hub for the team to use but we have a flexible working style with people working from both home and at clients’ premises.  With changes in team and clients, it was also now in the wrong place which meant the time taken to travel to and fro outweighed the benefit of being in the office.   So I had to ask the question, “What exactly is the value to my practice of having an office?!” 

That is the fundamental question that needs to be asked before you sign on the dotted lease line!

For some practices, getting an office is the next step but it isn’t necessarily right for all.  What value does having the office bring to your business and could that investment and monthly cost be spent better elsewhere?

I have invested in IT; my team can work remotely anywhere, which to my business is vital.  Every practice works differently and understanding what is key to your success is the first question when considering taking on an office.  Will it build your business or just be an unnecessary overhead?  And remember, you will probably be tied into at least a three-year contract, if not more.  You also need to consider the whole cost, it’s not just the rental but also service costs, insurance, broadband, phone and kitting the office out; there can be many hidden costs.

However, there is no doubt that taking on an office can really add value to your practice.  Office units in business centres offer wonderful opportunities to network with other businesses.  In the time I had in my office I built relationships with both accountants and new clients.  As you grow you need to bring your team together and an office will enable this; it will also provide a central hub and much-needed storage space for client documents.  And finally, it does provide a presence for your business; some practices have taken premises on high streets which clearly puts you in the public eye.

One of the questions I’ve had to ask of my practice is without an office how do I bring my team together and also keep a profile in my local community?  We have been fortunate enough to link with a new business centre that offers hot-desking and meeting rooms.  This has given us the ability to have a flexible cost-efficient option that meets our business needs.  And the key attraction is the ability to connect with local businesses in our area.

So, to office or not – basically, the question you really need to ask is “What value will it add to my practice?”  Every practice is different and getting an office is not necessarily the next step but for some, it will be a step well taken.