Thursday, September 3, 2015

Behind the scenes: Top 10 pro's & con's // having a home office

When starting Little Smilemakers Studio I knew one thing: to make a living as a creative artist I had to keep my expenses as low as possible. So I started working from my home office instead of renting an expensive office downtown. I thought: "If the cash-flow will get steady, I can look around for another place to work outside of my own home" Almost 4 years later I am typing this post on my dinner table with classical music playing in the background and a washing machine reminding me to hang my wet clothes.

Sometimes I wonder why not rent a place and keep my work a little more distant from home. But at the same time working at home makes me more creative, gives me more freedom and of course, I travel quite a lot, so why pay rent for a workspace that is empty four months a year? So yes, four years later I am still working from my home and I love it, wouldn't change it for the world. But then again I am single, don't have kids, so I have the place all by myself.

I always advise young start-ups to not spend money on rent if possible. Cut costs as much as you can. Start small. First and foremost you will have to earn a steady income to provide a living for yourself and maybe also for your family. I do not have the responsability for a kid, or have to be a girlfriend when my spouse is home, have food on the table at some certain time... Does it work for everyone? I am not sure, but I have made a little top 10 of things I love and things I do not love about working from my home. Here are my personal pro's & con's having a home office:

1 // It is cheap
Face it, starting your own business can be a huge struggle. Make end meet is hard being creative so cutting costs starting out is a must. I started working from my own dinner table simply because i could not afford a decent place somewhere else. After three years I turned one of the rooms into a proper office. Not worrying about paying the rent, that is a great luxury.

2 // Never stuck in morning traffic
The best thing about working from your own home office must be the fact that you have so many extra hours to spend on whatever you want to do. You won't have to worry about being stuck in traffic every morning and every night. You don't need to spend any money on a car or gas, cutting costs is a big must if you start your own business.

3 // The Healthy lunch
I remember working in a 9 to 5 business structure where my lunch time got planned by projects and deadlines. I had a very unhealthy diet since I did not have time to eat a proper lunch, sometimes I forgot all about it or the pile of work forced me to skip lunch all together. I love that I can make whatever I want, my kitchen and fridge are only a few steps away. I eat more frequently and a lot more healthy since I run my home studio because I have time to prepare something decent. It takes a little longer but it is also a nice break from work too.

4 // It is all yours
I thought about sharing a creative space but the thing I got attached to during the years i am working from my home is the fact that everything feels like me. To feel comfortable is so important for my creative process. Putting me in a clean cubicle or office space where I can not decorate my walls, add a personal touch or rearrange furniture will kill my creative flow. I need to be surrounded by good energy and my studio if filled with things I love. Inspiring artwork, little personal memorabilia, reminders of loved ones and travels.

5 // Flexibility
Oh I love the freedom. I can pack my laptop and work anywhere. Lot's of lunchrooms and coffee places have free wifi and working from a free spot like that will change your perspective a little and triggers creativity. I can do errands during the day and don't have to get into shops on rush hours. I can go to the beach on a hot summer day and work nights if I want to. Freedom is very dear to me. I love it.

6 // The daily mess
There are always things to do at home. Clean dishes, scrub the floor. A home can be a place of distraction. My home is always clean and tidy. If not, when I have a deadline and finish up work I find myself in the kitchen, cleaning. A messy home is a messy head so I can only focus when there is no random stuff laying around the house. These house chores can be a real distraction!

7 // Smelly food & meetings
Before meeting a client i made this amazing salmon, broccoli pie. Not a very good idea when you invite professional people over to have a chat.

8 // You never leave work
That is probably the hardest thing about working from your own home. Your work will never leave the building. It is there, so I work late hours and during winter nights I can be stuck at my desk round the clock. Closing the door to my home office doesn't seem to do the trick. Separating work and quality time can be hard. I love my work so it always draws me back in.

9 // My house is always clean and organized
I can not work in a mess. It will distract me from my deadlines and it really bothers me up until the point that I will do my dishes before finishing my deadlines. So my home is always tidy and clean. I can do my laundry while working and take little breaks to vacuum or clean the windows. Even though is is a distraction is a bad way, it is also quite healthy to stand up from your desk and move around a little.

10 // Unlimited Space
I have a studio in a separate room so I don't have to work on my dinner table. But I do have enough space to expand to my living room when I have meetings or I can use a few friends to pick their brain about a project or concept I am working on. I can use my entire house when needed or limit myself to one room. Usually I shift my work into different rooms. My home office is used for serious labour: Designing, e-mailing clients. And my living room I use for writing my blog, painting, drawing and doing research.