Work From Home
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The virtual office has gained a lot of attention over the years as it becomes increasingly easier to work remotely, but for some businesses it brings a unique benefit. It has become possible to host start-up businesses within your office space. While this may at first seem a little odd, there are some extremely unique benefits that you can gain by opening your spaces to a start-up and to helping them establish a virtual office. Naturally, this is a very symbiotic relationship because the start-up gains as much from the experience as you.
How Start-Ups Benefit
The benefits to start-ups are relatively easy to guess. By being able to share space with an established business, start-ups are able to find better spaces for employees. Most office complexes are made for larger businesses, making it more difficult for start-ups to get the right kind of space for their needs. If you have extra space, you can give them an opportunity that they are not likely to find anywhere else.
The employees stand to benefit a consider amount from the virtual office. They will be able to interact with your employees, providing an amount of stability generally lacking in start-ups. They can gain encouragement and mentoring that they are not likely to find within their own organization, if for no other reason than because they are far fewer in number.
How You Benefit
The energy and ideas of start-ups are contagious. They have a new way of looking at things and in expressing ideas, which will help rejuvenate your workers and your own approach to the work. Start-ups also move far more rapidly than older, larger companies because their primary goal is getting established. This sense of purpose and urgency are great for your employees to witness as well as it will inspire them to take a similar approach.
The close interaction with a start-up will generate a better understanding of other businesses. It is one thing to see how your customers and other businesses work from the outside, but working in close proximity to a start-up creates a whole new appreciation for how others operate. It is too easy to get stuck in a rut or to fall into routines that work in some cases. Having a start-up working in your office space will generate goodwill, and you will be able to help each other in different areas, like new hire references and positive opinions being expressed to others based on the relationship.
Things to Consider
If you are seriously considering creating a virtual office with a start-up, you do need to take a few things into account. For example, you should both sign a nondisclosure agreement to make sure trade secrets are respected and upheld should they be discussed between your company and the start-up. You should also agree to not solicit each other as they generally creates more tension, as well as establishing base rules for working in the same space.
Increasingly, the idea of a virtual office and employees working from home is becoming commonplace among technology-minded businesses, especially with startups. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Read Write Web, 64.2% of self-employed or freelancing workers were working from home in 2010, with 25.8% part-time employees working from home. Now in 2012, “work from home” while working for a new business venture is becoming as normal as lunch breaks and vacation time.
But, why exactly is this trend of working from home starting to become so popular? And why with startups?
Several startups have humble beginnings in garages, apartments, and even at Starbucks. This brings about a different type of “company culture” at the beginning, and continues to be a normal way for new businesses to begin. Not only is it just an unspoken rule and part of the business culture, but it is also a great way to save money when funding comes and goes so quickly. And as all entrepreneurs know, cash flow is king.
An Inc. Magazine article followed the startup Dimagi when they moved from chilly Cambridge, Massachusetts, all the way to sunny So Paulo in Brazil for the winter months in a rented apartment. They had a location in Cambridge, South America, and even employees working in India and South Africa. Despite being spread across many different time zones, employees were still able to communicate through email and social networks while their work was updated via cloud computing. So its definitely doable.
Less Financial Obligations
Because of little to no responsibility for rent of a full office, and all of the staff that comes with it, Dimagi (and fellow startups that do the same) are able to expand into new markets directly as well gathering new experiences worry-free.This also enables entrepreneurs to channel funds into much needed places, such as business development, marketing, and seeking out new talent.
Productivity and Comfort
Working while in the comfort from your own home, or a co-worker’s, has been proven to produce better work according to The Huffington Post. As stated, “76 [percent] of telecommuters not only say they’re more willing to work overtime, but they’re more loyal employees because of telecommuting.”
Telecommuting, working from home, the office of “home,” is only going to continue to be a popular method for employees of all stripes to get work done. Startups embrace this culture because the world we live in today is more mobile and more connected, so by being more flexible there are ultimately more chances to grow.