You started your own business. You started it because you had a passion for what you were doing and a belief that you would be more successful on your own than working for someone else. But that was a few years ago. Or maybe it was only a couple of months. Either way, your passion, your excitement and your energy is slowly waning, and the warm weather is only making it worse. How do you get it back?
Well, if you’ve been working from home this entire time, it may be time to get out. At least a few times a week.
One common gripe among small business owners is the difficulty associated with running their business from a home office. Yes, the flexibility and the convenience are great, but working from home can also be isolating if you’re not used to it or you’re someone who has grown accustomed to that office water cooler. If you’re running a home office and you the warmer weather is making you feel a little stifled, below are four reasons why you may want to cowork – either from your local coffee shop or at a more formal coworking space.
1. Boost Productivity: No, it’s not in your head. Studies show that people really are more productive when they work in a coffee shop–because coffeehouses provide three main things:
- Just enough distractions
- No “work hours” pressure
- Work doesn’t seem like work when you’re out of the office
That first one has always been the most important to me. When you’re working in a public place, there’s the (needed) pressure of looking like you’re actually doing something. At home you can watch TV or spend time on Facebook. But when you’re surrounded by other productive people, you become more productive as well.
2. Get New Ideas: A funny thing happens when you force yourself out of your home – you expose yourself to new ideas. You meet new people, you see new things, you have new experiences. All of this will affect your view of the market, your company and how you relate to other people. Many times when my writing is feeling a bit stale or I’m not sure how to handle a particular problem, I’ll skip out of the office for a day and go work someplace new. Changing your environment is a good way to free up your mental bottleneck and start seeing things in a new light. If you’re in a rut, break free.
3. Build a Social Network: When you’re a one-person shop or even a three- or four-person shop, it can be hard to build the social ties you need to effectively grow your business. It’s even harder if you’re not the kind of person who is naturally good at making connections or saying hello (like me). Working in a coworking space, whether formal or informal, can make this process easier by naturally putting you around people who can help you when needed. You meet people who can introduce you to new systems, new tools, new methodologies and new contacts. You build your network by placing yourself around qualified people and learning how others work.
4. Find Balance: Some small business owners do a great job at setting realistic hours and expectations for themselves. However, some of us aren’t so good at this. We end up working on our SMB for 12 hours straight, seven days a week, and we come to think this is a “normal” routine. It’s not. And it’s not healthy – to you or to your startup. No wonder you’re feeling stuck. Getting out and working in a coworking environment can give you the physical separation between work and home that so many of us lack–to the detriment of our health, our personal relationships and, yes, even the success of our businesses.
Those are four big benefits to forcing yourself out of your home and into the real world. How do you recharge your batteries? Have you found a home in coffeehouses and coworking spaces, or is your home office still your preferred place to be?
I find working in a coffee shop stifles any creativity that I have when it comes to business. For me, the best place for work is from my home office where everything is set up the way I like it – my own choice of music, peace and quiet when I need it, breaks when I want them. Working from home actually gives me more opportunities to get out and meet different kinds of people at different places. If I were to choose another environment to work in, I’d probably take my netbook over to the lake and work there or somewhere else that’s peaceful but I do envy those who have no problem working in coffee shops!
This is GREAT advice! I’ve often wondered if it was just my imagination when I feel like I am more productive in a coffee shop… and I love the excuse to drink more lattes! I, for one, am more easily distracted at home than in a public place.
I’ve found that getting out is like pushing the reset button. I just write down the most pressing items I need to accomplish on a sticky note, put it on my laptop and move. When I arrive and open my laptop I have a to-do list to keep me focused.
One neat tip that stayed with me from a networking website is “Never Dine Alone” – that forces a bit more contact. Have Starbucks seen your post yet?
Great points! I absolutely loved all the points you’ve highlighted especially the fact that working from a public place boost your productivity levels a great deal. That just shows the human element of being a social animal and shows how important socializing is. Really enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for sharing!
Good points! Whenever I run out of ideas or even when I’m bored, I would go and work at a coffee shop. The smell of good coffee as well as seeing other people who are being busy and productive would really get the ‘creative juice’ flowing.
Lisa, you are sooo right. I go to coffee houses when I have to think strategically. It’s very convenient to work out of your home, but the isolation can be a deterent to thinking clearly. Coffee houses is the American small business owner’s best friend.
Really good article. Just getting out of your home helps you get into a different frame of mind which is always good for productivity and helps keep the energy up.
Business lounges in business centers are often a good option too because you are surrounded by like minded people who may also prove to be good business contacts.
Gah. Try as I might, I can’t do the coffee shop thing. As a writer, I need complete quiet to focus. Maybe if I just needed to check emails. I’m pretty content at home so I’m reluctant to rock my own boat.
Great post, as usual, Lisa!
We at Deskwanted.com have done a major study on the topic of productivity and coworking.
Our Global Coworking Survey found that 76% of individuals who attend a coworking space felt they had become more motivated and productive. 40% said their income had increased, and another 52% said income had remained neutral. But they also reported other benefits – 61% said they could now relax more easily at home, 57% said they now work more often in teams, and 88% said they enjoyed better interactions with other people. These results were based on a worldwide survey of over 650 coworkers.
So there’s some more proof for you!
Not only was Lisa’s article spot on in terms of why it’s so important to get out of the home office, but the comments following it were entirely encouraging.
…even the comments from the folks who weren’t so enamored by the idea of working from a coffee shop. That’s okay. Work space preference is very personal – it’s a wonder I lasted as long as I did working in downtown office spaces.
Thanks to Lisa for a great article.
Chief Executive Cofficer
I think as with anything in business and in life, all in moderation. Working in a coffee shop one or two days a week can spark creativity and keep a home office worker from feeling isolated, but it isn’t something you have to do every day.
Working full-time outside of a home office doesn’t make sense and defeats the purpose of being able to set your own hours and avoid a commute. If you commit to certain work hours, stop yourself from handling personal tasks during the day and set up regular get-togethers with other business professionals (even via Skype), you don’t have to run out to a coffee shop to be productive.
Co-working sites are another good alternative but not necessarily on a full-time basis.
Absolutely love this and very true. I love coffee shops I DO get more done…it took me a few years to figure that out. Recently I was not able to get out to them as often and have been feeling less productive…but a change is a comin’ and I look forward to it. I think those who are new to working from home REALLY need to listen to your excellent advice.
This isn’t just true for business. I find that I’m much more productive with academic work when I get out of my university or home office and go to the local coffee shop. There is just something about the environment there that results in productivity. I’ve always found this interesting because I can’t focus in the office if it’s loud. I think the whirl of the espresso machine is just perfect white noise.
Thanks for this post!