How much does it really cost to work from home vs at a cafe vs from a coworking/ shared space? How many productive hours can you get working from these spaces? We’re breaking it all down with wellness coach and entrepreneur, Sarah Brosnahan.
You’ve done it! A while back you escaped the clutches of corporate and became your own boss. However, along with the freedom of being an entrepreneur, you now find yourself faced with a problem that you’ve never really had to think about: where do you get your best work done?
It’s a great way to start out but the limitations are clear. Many entrepreneurs early on opt to work from home because why not? It’s cheap, comfortable, and you can literally work in your jammies!
After leaving her role as the marketing manager of Huckleberry last year, Sarah started developing her wellness coaching programme and marketing business from the comfort of her home in Muriwai. Living away from the city and working from home meant she didn’t have to drive out to get to work or bear the extra cost of parking, petrol and eating out.
For some people like Sarah, home is also a great space to focus and get into the zone - especially if you’ve got a structured day planned out. “On a good day, I could roll out of bed and work for up to 16 hours,” said the charismatic wellness coach.
While it can seem like an ideal situation, it’s important to note that there are drawbacks to the home-office lifestyle; loneliness being the biggest one. As an extrovert, Sarah began to feel isolated at home and missed being around people regularly. She began craving the simple things - a bit of banter over a coffee or a good laugh.
She also found a lack of support when it came to bouncing around ideas for her business. “I realised that it was important to have a sounding board (that excluded friends and family), because it was really easy to get stuck in my own bubble sometimes.”
Networking opportunities don’t exactly come easy to people working from home either. You start to go a bit stir-crazy when you’re home all week and your only interaction is the delivery person or worse, your cat. Sure, you could build connections through social media or attending events, but imagine the leverage you’d have by building genuine relationships that go beyond the surface level stuff you get from the oh so familiar (and painful) ‘business networking’.
Over time, Sarah’s productivity started waning. Whether it was being prone to little distractions (hello, pile of overdue laundry!) or the lack of motivation, there were days when it was impossible to get any work done. “The other day I was puppy-sitting and I only got about 2 hours of work done. I can’t imagine what it’s like for people with kids or pets.”
Forget being responsible for another living being, imagine being given extra household tasks just because you’re ‘at home all day’! Unfortunately, one of the most annoying things about working from home is that other people might expect you to handle non-work-related responsibilities simply because your schedule is more flexible than theirs. “I’ve had to set some clear boundaries so people knew that I wasn’t just sitting around all day, but I was working and trying to build my business,” said Sarah.
A common office away from home that most people consider is the corner cafe. The dreamy ambiance, light jazz music and smell of coffee is enough to get your creative juices flowing and ready to take on the world.
Having worked at cafes most of her corporate life, Sarah was no stranger to operating from one of these neighbourhood spots. In fact, it’s still one of her favourite places to go to when needs some inspiration. “There’s something about the cafe environment that is just so creative and really helps with my idea generation.”
Sarah also found something much more desired than a good cuppa at cafes - humans! She discovered that she could build her network by meeting other people who toured and worked from the same cafe joints that she did. “The right cafe can make you feel really comfortable and is even a great place to meet clients.”
That being said, it’s not as cheap as it sounds. Working from a cafe could easily cost an average of $30 for a meal and a couple of coffees, depending on how long you’re there for. For a decent gal like Sarah, that’s just 3 hours a day. “I wouldn’t stay at a cafe for more than 3 hours, otherwise I’d feel like I’m overstaying my welcome. The cafes around Auckland also have limited opening hours, which is difficult to handle when you’ve got a big project that you need to spend lots of time on.”
Sometimes, even if you’ve found a great cafe with long opening hours, you might face Wifi problems. Some cafes don’t have good Wifi connectivity while others might have time or data limitations on their usage. Either way, there’s a high chance that you might have to use your own mobile data and that’s just more money spent, right?
Privacy and safety were also drawbacks that Sarah faced when it came to working from cafes. “If I had to take a call, I’d have to go outside because the cafe was too noisy or too quiet. And if I had to use the washroom, I would have to ask someone to look after my laptop.” If it’s a familiar cafe, you might not mind leaving it behind but the thought of leaving your most valuable device that holds your life’s work at a random place can be scary for some.
If you’ve finally had enough with the isolation at home or the lack of productivity at a cafe, you might want to give coworking a go. Sarah decided to try coworking after her experience during her travels to Bali.
“To me, coworking spaces are the best of both worlds. There are quiet spaces where I can focus and conduct calls and meetings. But there’s also a creative buzz with the community that really inspires me.”
Sarah’s spot on. It’s the best of both worlds with another cool world on top. Coworking spaces are set up to be comfortable and make you feel at home. At the same time, you also get stable WiFi, private meeting rooms and dedicated desks with power points (yeah, we know the struggle.)
However, the space and facilities are nothing compared to the people you can connect with. Or as Sarah puts it, “being around like-minded people who get it”. Entrepreneurship is a crazy, scary, challenging, exciting place to be in and it helps to have people who are living the same experience. Whether it’s a solution to your professional problems or a friendly shoulder to lean on, the community you meet at a coworking space will be one you can count on.
One of the biggest benefits of coworking (the secret one that rarely gets mentioned) is the easy and rapid expansion of your business through referrals and collaborations made through your new community.
Most coworking spaces are also situated in central locations around the city. While that might be a longer commute if you live on the outskirts, it’s a great place to meet clients. You’d be able to come into the city, catch up with work and run some errands around town while you’re at it!
Of course compared to working from home or at a cafe, coworking spaces can seem expensive. Although, the cost per day comes up to the same or even less than working at a cafe. Plus you’ll have other benefits like access to events, community activities and all the offered amenities.
Sure, you could save lots of money by working at home or working at certain cafes - but is it worth skimping if you’re going to be lonely and unproductive?
Here’s a formula that we like to use when calculating the true cost of working from a shared space:
True Cost =
Cost of membership + Cost of food & commute +
Productive work hours + Cost of your sanity
When it comes down to it, all these factors should be considered when you look into a workspace. Aside from monetary costs, it’s also important to look at how much your time and sanity is worth. Because let’s face it, running a business with 0 support is enough to drive anyone crazy.
Everyone has a different work style and it’s worth trying each of these options to see which space best suits your own needs. For some people, the value of meeting people outweighs the cost while others are most productive working from home all day.
But hey, don’t take our word for it. If you’d like to network with some awesome people, work in a conducive environment, and partake in fun community activities, come check out our space!