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Working out what you want

This section will help you think through what type of office or working space you need.

If you are taking on an office for the first time you might want to consider the pros and cons of renting an office.

This section will also explain:

Why have an office?

If you don’t already have an office, the chances are you are working from home. If you are working 3 days a week or more, moving to an office could help you to balance your work and home life better and to feel less isolated. It also gives you a more professional image and can make it much easier for other staff and volunteers to work. But it will increase your costs.

If you don’t have an office, you may either be:

  • meeting intermittently at one, or more, locations (ie. a monthly management committee meeting and undertaking management tasks from various home locations)
  • working from a room in someone’s home (maybe yours!)  

Pros and cons of moving into an office

Pros

  • if the organisation is currently run out of someone’s house, an office will create a clear division for them between ‘Home’ and ‘Office’
  • it creates a more professional image for visitors and funders
  • clear office address & phone number
  • easier access (24 hours even, depending on the office, and could be easier to reach on public transport etc.) – allowing people to work at any time. This is especially important if you have volunteers/staff who need access at different hours
  • easier to hold meetings of larger numbers of people
  • potential for expansion
  • depending on location, it might give greater opportunity for interaction with other organisations, providing the chance for sharing of resources and ideas, and reducing isolation

Cons

  • cost! Not only the cost of office space itself but:
    • travel to the office – especially if the main worker(s) had previously been working from their own homes
    • equipment – you will no longer be able to share a home computer, stationery or office equipment and phone and data line(s)
    • insurance – you will need to consider contents insurance on your office equipment, and, if you have not got this already, Employers Liability Insurance for volunteers/staff using the space
  • liability. Depending on the type of contract you have, you may incur a liability for rent over a long period of time. You may also incur further charges you were not expecting (service charges, maintenance charges, etc.)

At what point should you consider a first office?

  • If your organisation employs a full time/part time worker 

It is important for workers to feel they can separate work from home. If you are starting up the organisation yourself, you may want to start within your own home but move to an office once it starts to take up more of your time.

  • If your organisation employs more than one worker

If you have several workers or volunteers, they may need access to shared resources such as a computer, filing system or office equipment. They may also work varying hours, making working from someone’s house unsuitable (they wouldn’t want to be opening their house at all hours!).

  • If your organisation is planning to expand

Even if you do not employ staff at the moment, you may find that in order to expand your work and resources (including staff resources), you need an office base. From here you can create funding applications, utilise greater volunteer resources and spend more time on the work of the organisation.