Why freelancers should consider a rented office
The allure of being able to ditch the office attire and escape the rush hour ‘rat-race’ is what often attracts us to freelancing in the first place.
But ironically, many freelancers after a while can feel isolated and less productive without a defined structure to their day, and that’s where a rented workspace can come in, writes Philip Brennan, managing director of BusinessComparison.
Having a routine is important; it gives us the boundaries we need to function and provides much-needed security in an industry where work might be transient and unpredictable.
How productive are you when you work from home?
Most of us can confess to spending a little too much time, when we work from home, checking Instagram, WhatsApp-ing and pottering around the house! While some people excel at the self-discipline required to knock out a solid eight hour working day while working at home, a large proportion of us struggle to stay focussed.
When you work a regular nine-to-five, your routine often stays the same – get up; get dressed, leave the house, have lunch at the same time, leave the office at the same time. But in the absence of this routine, even the most skilled and reliable freelancers can come unstuck, unsure what task to focus on next. That’s when procrastination can kick in; which is why even housework can suddenly look appealing! A cluttered space is indeed a cluttered mind, right?!
Many home-based freelancers also find that their friends and family don’t perceive them to be really working – asking them to run errands, take in parcels or calling them up during the working day. After all, you are “only working from home”. This can lead to frustration and less efficient outputs, equalling less billable work.
Should you consider a rented office space?
The additional cost of an office space might very well offset itself from the additional revenues earned as a result of a more structured and productive working day.
It is worth considering whether you would be more productive, business-like and happier as a freelancer in a rented office space. And what about the financials? Might it be worth calculating the probable uplift in billable work against the rental fees incurred? Why not take a commercial view on whether it stacks up for you? What’s not in doubt is that the upside to no longer having relatives sneer at you when you say “I’m working then” can be invaluable!
Can you claim your office space as a freelancer as a business expense?
As a freelancer, you are possibly claiming for a home office using Simplified Expenses ( the government’s guidance to SE is available here) which is a flat-rate of £26 per month for full-time home office usage, deducted from your revenue on your Self-Assessment tax return.
But if you take on a rented office space, you can deduct the legitimate costs associated with that office space – including rent, utilities, stationary, office supplies and even cleaning! You should note that you will not be able to claim for mileage from your residential address to your office, or subsistence (lunch/refreshments) while at your office.
For tailored, in-depth tax advice which you can rely on you should consult an accountant. But it’s worth bearing in mind that when travelling to visit clients, you would usually calculate your starting point from your new office -- and not from your home address. Other than that, normal HMRC expenses rules apply when visiting clients and undertaking meetings outside of the ‘normal’ working day away from your office.
You won’t be the only beneficiary of an external business hub
And it will vary from freelancer to freelancer, but those very same clients might also benefit from your new rented office space. Given the choice, most clients would pick sitting face-to-face with you seated a desk ready to do business, over swigging tea in your front room next to the tele! A rented office space also reduces the interferences you can’t control, many of which can happen at home – a nosy neighbour, their lawn mower and similarly unwanted noises – even your other half returning home early!
There are other things you probably want to know about taking on a rented office as a self-employed freelancer. BusinessComparison have created a comprehensive guide to answer all your queries, making the business of renting your first office for your freelance enterprise a lot more practical – and potentially profitable – than you might think!