Working from home is where the majority of freelancers start. Be it a desk in a spare room or the kitchen table, homeworking is a rent-free, expensable treat and many wouldn’t change it for the world.
However, at some point the small desk in the corner of your bedroom may prove insufficient, and it could be time to expand your home office, look into some coworking spaces or even lease a full-blown office of your own. But how do you know when it’s time to upgrade?
Your paperwork is taking over
Remember when everybody used to talk about “the paperless office”? Many of us realised quite a long time ago it’s never going to happen.
The main culprits are utility providers and HMRC, who insist on sending you physical post despite your perfectly good email address. If your paperwork has got so out of hand your keyboard is resting on a thick layer of mixed-up pages, it could be time to buy a bigger desk. Perhaps one with drawers.
Your home office is less office, more home
Is your personal life intruding into your workspace? Do you sometimes find boiled sweets sticking an invoice and last summer’s postcards together? Is your work computer filled with bookmarks of funny cat videos?
It could be time to address your work-life balance, and make sure the two are clearly separated.
Your first employee works on your sofa
Growing your business is a bold and admirable step for any freelancer, but the cost of taking on your first employee is not to be taken lightly.
If your enterprise is growing beyond a one-person operation and your new team cannot be appropriately accommodated, it’s definitely time to grow your premises too.
Only you understand your “filing system”
Look down. How much carpet can you see?
Is the floor of your home office mostly obscured by paperwork? Do stacks of research and things you’ll “definitely get round to reading” litter chairs, tables and your desk? If your workspace is a complete pigsty, but you “know exactly where everything is”, it’s probably time to expand.
You begin to fear the outside world
When you both work and live at home, adventures outside the house can be few and far between.
Especially if the weather is bad (that never happens in England, right?) days can pass without feeling the wind in your hair. If you’ve started collecting your toenail clippings in a jar and begun to hiss like a startled cat when direct sunlight catches you, it could be time to ditch the home office. Rejoin the world, go networking, meet some people.