Whether you’re starting a consulting business, launching as a solo financial analyst, or spinning up a law practice or real estate operation, the space you operate in can play a huge role in your success. You want it to convey professionalism, earn clients’ trust, and send subtle signals about your connections and level of expertise.
Here are five elements to look for in an office setting as you set out on your own, plus an analysis of how your primary workplace options – home office, coffee shop, traditional coworking space, and proworking space – stack up.
1: A Distraction-Free Work Environment
You can serve clients best when you’re able to do your best work. It’s particularly crucial to get that right when you're just starting out, as success in early projects can lead to ongoing engagements. To achieve that success, research shows that you need a distraction-free work environment.
What counts as a distraction? Background noise can take a toll on information work (math, verbal reasoning, typing), according to a 2006 study. And the worst kind of noise for performance and productivity, according to a study conducted in 2015, is intermittent and unpredictable.
A home office, then, is probably not ideal for those starting a consulting business – especially in an era of widespread work from home and school cancellations. Coffee shops and traditional coworking spaces, both hubs of activity and therefore sound, may be just as problematic.
The ideal location is one that offers a dependably quiet atmosphere where you can consistently dial in and focus on complex problems – which is exactly what a proworking space offers.
2: An Atmosphere that Impresses Clients (and Potential Clients)
Of course, doing excellent work for clients depends on winning them over in the first place. And while it’s true that your pitch and references will play a big role in who you sign, it’s also true that your professional workspace also contributes.
This is true for two reasons:
- Client first impressions: The place where you choose to work and greet clients signals your professionalism, priorities, and attention to detail. In a professional office space, conversations are more likely to be calm and uninterrupted, you’re guaranteed a comfortable place to meet, and you’re surrounded by other people doing serious work.
- Willingness of your network to refer you: No doubt you’ve spent years building a network of professional connections who will be key to your success as you strike out on your own. Establishing yourself in a professional office space can help your contacts feel more comfortable recommending your services to their network.
3: Private Meeting Spaces
In some industries, it’s okay to have conversations in large, open spaces surrounded by strangers.
In law, finance, real estate, accounting – and for certain sensitive projects in any industry – it isn’t.
But even when you’re not discussing highly sensitive topics with clients, there’s a benefit to being having those discussions without being interrupted by an espresso machine, package deliveries, children wandering in, or strangers wandering by – any of which might happen in a home office, coffee shop, or traditional coworking space.
Much better for highly professional client interactions is a space with dedicated meeting rooms that offer not only privacy but also seamless tech setups for demos, presentations, and video calls.
4: Physical and Digital Security and Safety
It’s not news that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work and think about public workplaces. One recent IBM survey found, for example, that 54 percent of workers would like remote working to be their primary work mode moving forward. Just as telling: 20 percent of public transit users said they would stop using it in the post-COVID world.
From these numbers, it’s safe to say that concerns about health and safety are motivating many people’s actions right now. Setting up shop in a professional office space with regular professional cleaning can help quell any worries your clients might have about sanitation and health.
Bonus points if the space also restricts physical access, which both limits the opportunities for germs to spread and helps create a more secure environment for IT.
Other safety and security features that protect a business and convey professionalism:
- A fully manned front desk
- Keycard-only building access
- Keycard-only access to individual offices
Read more about what a socially distant office looks like.
5: Reasonable Rent
Maybe the most difficult leap to take when starting a consulting business or other solo practice is signing a lease when you have a reasonable alternative available that’s free. In reality, though, pinching pennies on your professional space can end up hurting your bottom line if the space you choose to work from hurts your credibility with prospective clients and members of your network.
And a professional workspace doesn’t have to come with an astronomical price tag. In fact, a proworking space – that is, a shared office space designed for established professionals who value privacy, security, and calm – can be surprisingly affordable while offering all the amenities outlined here.
Proworking Office Spaces Let Solo Businesses Punch Above Their Weight
Investing in a professional office space – that is, a proworking space – can help consultants, freelancers, and newly established solo business owners create an instant aura of professionalism, which helps win the trust of potential clients and members of an existing professional network.
Because proworking spaces offer impressive and distraction-free environments, private spaces, and excellent security – for a reasonable price – they’re ideal for professionals transitioning to solo practice, launching a consulting career, or otherwise venturing out on their own.