Long before Marissa Mayer upset the Yahoo cart (and the well-articulated response to that overturned cart in The New York Times), I’ve had to weigh out the pros and cons of what it means to have a work life when you don’t have an office. In the solopreneur world, it isn’t one way or the other, but rather a blend of both. And that blend is something bigger companies can learn from. The best part is that we set the policy and we can change it!
The Blended Approach
This is an approach that Prerna Gupta talks about in her Times article — three days in the office (for collaboration and serendipity) and two days at home (where one can often be more productive). For solopreneurs, I’d flip it around to three days at home and maybe two days in the client’s office. It is important to be face-to-face for building a relationship and creating a wider net of relationships. People like seeing people. It instills trust. Use that office time to your best advantage.
The Homebody Approach
Like Gupta, I continue to believe that being at home (or in your own office, if you have one) is the best place for raw productivity. No one comes by your cube or pulls you into an ad hoc meeting. You can be nose-in-the-laptop with Zen-like focus. The other issue here is quiet space to think. Creative and strategic thinking requires room to breathe. Often, that type of thinking is exactly what you get paid for because clients can’t do it as easily sitting in their offices.
The Workplace Approach
Of course, there are will always be roles that will require you to park yourself in a client’s office. If you are contracting into an existing team or responsible for ongoing management, being out of the office causes more stress than it relieves. Whenever this occurs, my advice is to be sure your contract allows for a more elastic workday. You will need time to go grab a coffee or lunch to network, probably because you need to contact another client. You need space for your business, even when you are working on someone else’s!
The Value of Where You Work
One thing to consider when negotiating where you will work is how your preference is reflected in your pricing. You must incentivize for the appropriate outcome. If you feel strongly about working from home, simply charge more for the time you are requested to be in the office. But be flexible about this! Clients have their own rhythm and reasoning and each situation is unique. In the end, what is best for our clients is best for us!
And just to prove that many of the most successful minds find home to be the best office – here are 9 who agree.