Do you really want an office?

You have a company and now you want an office……do you really? Why do you need an office? As a place to park yourself during the day? As a place to park colleagues? To meet customers? To hold meetings? To make telephone calls? To send emails?

I have had a few conversations about this lately and the views vary widely. My completely unrepresentative survey brings up some interesting reasons for an office.

As an entrepreneur building a business you are likely to be out ‘on the road’ a lot, so no office needed for that. So are your colleagues, so they do not need one. Customers you meet at their premises, or in restaurants, coffee shops, pubs, etc. Meetings? You mean like your local council does all day? I doubt it. Telephone calls and emails? They can be done anywhere. So why the office?

Ego features very high. We have a tradition of offices and therefore you are more important if you have an office, preferably complete with PA. Nice carpets and a sofa gives the status of a Merc any day. Probably tells your customers you are charging too much also, but who cares – see banks.

There are of course real reasons to have an office. It is a place to meet colleagues, and keep files, but even so, do you really need a desk for everyone? Do you even need one yourself? One thing I have never heard in my many years in business – “the success of our business is thanks to us finding the right office on day one”.

One company I came across has 2 employees and is struggling find its feet. They have a brilliant product, they are both brilliant people, but running a business is proving challenging. So they have decided to bring someone in with some experience to give it direction. The number one criteria: find an office in a particular town.

The result will be a high cost for the company (the chosen town is not cheap), and many hours of commuting for the few employees. Why?

With the technology we have today the need for an office has reduced dramatically. Let me look at my own life. I spend two days a week in a traditional office. It is lovely, sometimes very important to be there, and sometimes very distracting from the task on hand. I spend 3 hours a week getting there and back.

Every other week I spend a day in London. I meet various people, I drop in on others (who are invariably out), have lunch with people, etc. If I need to lose myself for a few hours I either go to a coffee shop (good coffee, dubious facilities), or I use Regus (bad coffee, excellent facilities). I spend 4 hours travelling to get to and from London – I love it and the fact I do not have to join all those sad b……s on a daily basis makes me feel even better.

When I am on the road I have my mobile which sends me emails, Tweets, tells me where I am, where I want to go, has my diary, my address book, music, videos, pictures of the family and in emergency I believe I could make a call with it.

The rest of the time I work from home or travel to clients, contacts, or friends wherever they may be. I talk with colleagues on Skype, VOIP or if desperate on a telephone or we meet at times and places of mutual convenience.

At home I can do all the things I would do in an office except for two things: have meetings and stand around chatting.

And looking at commuting statistics for the UK I save an average of 1.5 hours each and every day I do not got to that office and that is not even taxable – yet!

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