By Lee Newell, online marketing assistant at ESE Projects
Modern working practices are changing rapidly. Gone are the days when people could expect a job for life, and many skilled creative freelancers are finding that they’re working regularly for a number of different companies. Whilst working from home is one option for these people, a large amount prefer to work in an office space as they often find this helps them keep a professional attitude and also allows them to clearly delineate between their work and home environments. How could you supplement your business by renting out some of your space to such freelancers, what are the benefits of doing so?
At the moment it seems like the price of everything is slowly increasing. This can include the rental cost of your premises, which is one of the largest overheads many small businesses face. By renting out some of the desks in the office to contractors and freelancers it is possible for them to assist with this business cost. To get an idea of the going rate you can always call round other adverts for shared space and find out what people are charging for different facilities, allowing you to be competitive. You don’t have to be the cheapest out there to attract interest – as people often associate this with a lack of standards, but price your space somewhere in the middle of the market.
Create a good space
If you are looking to rent out a desk in your office to a freelancer and you’re looking to charge them a good amount for the space, then make sure it is up to standard. Install a good desk, a quality office chair that is adjustable, so that it can fit any size of body, and make sure that all the office peripherals are up to scratch, such as the fax machine and photocopier. Don’t expect freelancers to be comfortable in a situation where there’s an us and them type mentality – give them access to all the facilities in the office, such as the coffee maker, and ask them to contribute in the same manner as everyone else. This way you will create a positive environment that freelancers will enjoy – ensuring that they rent off you for a long period of time.
Find the right people
Working at close proximity to others in an office is quite a personal thing. Some of us spend more time with our co-workers than we do with our very best pals and partners. It is therefore incredibly important to make sure that any freelancers or contractors who are looking at renting space in your office are a good fit with your culture. If you like to play music on the radio, or if you frequently like to have a break to laugh out loud with your business partners, then this might not go down too well with a contractor. The best thing to do is to have a trial period where both parties can cancel the arrangement with no liability – so if the situation doesn’t work, then everyone can walk away with no bad feelings.
It can really benefit your business if you can find a freelancer to rent a desk in your office who has skills that complement your own. If you run a graphic design agency then it could be incredibly useful to have a developer working with you who could give you a little advice on how to put together online presentations from a technical standpoint. It is also possible that you could pass business leads between one another and help each other’s work-flow grow. You may even want to offer your office space to freelancers with whom your work regularly as this can be a very good situation for both, allowing you to discuss projects face to face rather than having to rely on Skype, phone calls and emails to really understand the parameters and demands of the work.
One space – many workers
As most freelancers and contractors don’t require anything more than a computer on which to do their work, it is possible that many different types of worker can share a different desk. You are unlikely to find freelancers who will only want a desk in an office for one day a week, but it can work well with contractors. You can arrange for a different contractor to come in regularly on the same day every week, which can greatly help your business. For instance, you can ask your accountant to come in – and they can always take a moment to discuss money saving matters with you – or your social media expert, who may drop a few hints about how to get the most out of your Facebook page. Some of the best ideas happen when people come together on a spur of the moment conversation, by bringing workers into your office space you’re increasing the chances of making this happen.
Terms and conditions
Whilst it might seem like a good idea to offer an exchange of skills for space, such arrangements never usually work out. Even if you think that you’re regularly going to need the skills of a freelancer in your office then always make sure that they pay regular money for their rent and you pay them an hourly rate of cash for their work. The reason for this is that exchange based business relationships can quickly become complicated. You may feel that your freelancer needs to be working every minute of the day when you’re exchanging hours for rent, and may become resentful when they step outside for a half hour coffee break and a business telephone conversation – and they may feel that you’re asking too much of them. Keep everything above board and professional, especially if you’re looking to cement a long term relationship.
One final note…
Finally try to keep everything above board with anyone who rents office space from your business. If you are thinking of moving to different premises, let them know at the earliest opportunity so that they can find alternative arrangements if needs be – or maybe they can help you find more people to work with if you’re looking at renting out more space. Remember in any shared arrangement there has to a fair amount of compromise, and you cannot expect someone who is paying you money to always defer to your better judgement. Instead listen to their concerns and wherever possible try to come up with a solution that takes everyone’s views into consideration.
Lee Newell is an online marketing assistant at the office design, supply and install experts – ESE Projects. When Lee is not busy blogging, he enjoys cycling and regularly participates in charity bike rides.