Making the jump to an office

After working from a home office for 11+ years, I got kicked out.

My son (then 7 months old) needed a room of his own, so I had to give up my cozy home office. It had been a goal of mine to rent an office, so I was happy to make the jump.

It was a bit overwhelming at first: where to look, what to look for—not to mention packing and moving everything. I started out by making a list of goals for the new office: walking distance from home, square footage equal to my home office, affordable rent, proximity to at least one coffee shop.

Since I knew I wanted to be close to home, I pounded the pavement, looking for “For Lease” signs. After a few months of searching, I was lucky enough to find an office that met all my goals—with high ceilings and exposed brick, to boot.

Here are a few tips for starting the office search.

Things to consider:

  • Location: Choose a location that is convenient for both you and your clients. If you have kids and/or dogs, a location that is walking distance from home may be best. I have both and love the fact that I can easily go home at lunchtime to see my little boy and take pooch for a walk.
  • Cost: examine your overall budget to see how much you can afford each month. Make sure to add potential extras such as utilities and internet/phone access.
  • Space: Carefully consider how much space you need. I decided on a smaller space, knowing it would be affordable—and keep me from accumulating too much design ephemera!
  • Shared space/co-working space: If you crave human interaction, this may be your best bet. Co-working spaces have become popular. Also, many larger creative firms are willing to rent you a desk or room (and you can share creative supplies, i.e. Pantone books, paper swatchbooks, etc).

How to find office space:

  • Leasing agent: many cities have agents that specialize in a type of property or neighborhood. This can be useful if you are short on time.
  • Walk the neighborhood: I found my office on a walk with my dog. Look for “For Lease” signs around your neighborhood and give them a call.
  • Ask around: send a shoutout to your friends and colleagues. You never know who might have a lead.

So, you’ve found the perfect space. Now, it’s time to ask questions:

  1. Are utilities included?
  2. Is there an existing phone/internet hook-up in the office?
  3. Is the building/office accessible 24 hours or during specific hours?
  4. What type of security is available in the building?
  5. Is there parking (if applicable)?
  6. What other types of businesses occupy space in the building? (good to know for future networking or partnerships)
  7. What are the terms of the lease?

Now that I’m settled in, I love my new office. Though having to “get ready for work” again every day took some getting used to, it’s nice to have a place where I can focus strictly on work—but still take a long lunch in the park with my son. I can also schedule client meetings or collaborative work sessions at my office instead of the local coffee shop (don’t worry, they are still getting my business!)

Have you made, or are you looking to make the jump from a home office to an outside office? Share your experiences and tips.

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