Working at home isn't always easy.
For some, it’s the interruptions from well-meaning family members who just want to “check in” or “ask one quick question.” For others, it’s the deadly combination of too many temptations and too little supervision. For many, it’s simply the feeling of isolation that comes with the lack of daily human interaction.
Whatever the reason, despite your best intentions, working at home is not working for you. Renting expensive, full-time office space defeats the purpose of minimizing business expenses by working at home, so here are five low-cost alternatives.
1. The at-home office.
Start by seeking work boundaries at home. Annex a basement room or build an office suite over or inside your garage if zoning permits. Often the problem is lack of separation and privacy. Even a 30-second commute from the family space to a separate office is enough to make you feel like you are now in work mode.
2. The coffee shop office.
Find a favorite freelancer-friendly coffee shop with plenty of space, power outlets and of course, free Wi-Fi. Typically, coffee shops will ask that you vacate your "coffice" during their peak periods or join their lunch crowd in renting your spot with the purchase of a sandwich special or an elaborate, caffeinated beverage.
3. The public office.
Check out the public library or your local Chamber of Commerce as both often offer quiet places to work. Your local Chamber may even offer additional business services as a way of attracting more small businesses to their network.
4. The virtual office.
Look into renting office space in a local business center. Business centers usually offer a range of virtual office arrangements, from virtual mailboxes to drop-in office space and boardroom rentals to full-time single office leases.
5. The shared office.
Join a co-working community. If collaboration is what is missing, consider co-working where members get access to a desk, office facilities and a community of like-minded people. Niche co-working communities are popping up everywhere, including some that even have childcare options for work-at-home parents.
However you make working at home work for you, it’s important to be clear about your work style and productivity needs, and create a system that addresses both. For example, compulsive extroverts who thrive on collaboration need to either find a way to virtually collaborate, get out of the home office on a regular basis or find a co-working community.
A version of this article was originally published on August 17, 2012.