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Space to Grow

Choosing the right location to work from is about more than where you can get a refill on your coffee. The right spot may very well determine how productive and successful you are at your work.

Michele Chiappetta
January 28, 2019

You’ll see them in bookstores, coffee shops, and libraries — lone individuals, hunched over a laptop, sipping coffee, and typing away. Think they’re hobby novelists? Unemployed hipsters? Truth is, the reality is likely to be much different: They’re probably working on their business.

With increasing opportunities for Americans to work remotely or for themselves, many people don’t have to work in the stuffy, stodgy business buildings depicted in The Office or Office Space. But choosing the right location to work from is about more than where you can get a refill on your coffee. The right spot may very well determine how productive and successful you are at your work.

Consider carefully where you’ll work, so you can rock your business like the boss that you are.

Evaluate your options wisely
When it comes to deciding where you will get down to business, take the smart approach and do your research. Make a list of what you need most in your work area so you can evaluate how well a space fits your needs.

Ask yourself: Do you want a quiet work space, or do you prefer people around you? Do you need a dedicated desk, or can you just sit down anywhere and get to it? Does that free refill on coffee — or similar amenities — mean a lot to you? What kind of budget do you have for office space?

Once you have your list in hand, test out different spaces and see what serves you best. There’s a reason some people do well in a home office (as I do), while others do better at a coffee shop or coworking space.

Not sure where to begin? Here’s a list of places popular with small-business owners and remote workers in and around Green Country.

Shared work spaces
Coworking spaces provide the best of both worlds — flexibility, affordability, shared equipment, opportunities to network, and more. Most of these shared spaces give you a variety of options, from a daily drop-in rate to a monthly membership to a dedicated desk, depending on what you need.

Though I haven’t tried this option, I know several people who love it. Among them is Roxanne R. Roark, owner of R3 Social Media, who mainly offices out of The Bridge in midtown Tulsa.

“The beauty of it being a coworking space, and one of the reasons I enjoy it so much, is you have a variety of people working on their own things, but that could complement each other without fear of competition,” says Roark. “I get meeting space when I need it. I can brainstorm with other creative minds. I can work in peace without having a busy coffee shop or event space in the background. No matter what I’m working on, I know I can come to my desk at The Bridge and have some solid work time that I really can’t get anywhere else I’ve tried.”

At-home office
The dream of working from home is especially appealing when it’s cold or rainy outside, and we wish we could stay home in sweatpants instead of pulling on a business suit and driving to an office building. But the reality of working from home can be more complicated.

“Home can be distracting,” Roark notes. And it’s true. There are many distractions in your home that can pull you away from working — spouses, pets, laundry, and so on. To help create the discipline of working from home successfully, assign a specific space to serve only as your office. Furnish it so that it’s comfortable and inspiring.

Mica Olinghouse, owner of Millennial Media, says this approach works for her. “I find that I actually get more work done in this type of environment, as I have complete quiet and freedom in my own space,” she says. “I also have it decorated in my business brand colors, so even though it’s a home office, it has the feel of being a cozy corporate office as well. I have everything I need — an L-shaped desk, leather swivel desk chair, bookcase, stereo, desktop computer, file drawers and boxes, and a reading nook with an armchair, ottoman, and blanket.”

Office space in an office building
If you would benefit from having a dedicated office, you may want to consider an office suite or storefront space. Green Country abounds with such options, from strip malls and office buildings to converted homes and luxury duplexes zoned for commercial use.

Rented office space tends to appeal to businesses with several employees. But it’s also something that solo service providers invest in. I’ve talked to plenty of these solopreneurs, and here’s the lesson I’ve learned.

If you’re renting a business space, don’t sign a lease based solely on rental price. It’s crucial to be somewhere that is easy for existing clients to get to, new clients to find, and potential clients to spot from the street. A discounted rental far from the center of town may prevent you from making ends meet.

Coffee shops
Ah, the coffee shop — it’s iconic as a space for solo workers. The free Wi-Fi, caffeinated drinks, sweet treats, and presence of people all add up to an appealing option for many.

“When I do feel the need for a change in environment or connection with others, I still head to Barnes & Noble, which is my favorite coffee shop to work from,” says Olinghouse.

Other reasons many people love working from coffee shops and similar businesses include the accessibility, the ease of camping out for a few hours, and the opportunity for casual business meetings to happen over a warm drink. If you like background noise as you work, these spots provide it.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for what I should investigate over the next several months in terms of entrepreneurship in Tulsa. Feel free to message your ideas to Preview 918 on Facebook (which I can see anytime), or email me, or share ideas on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtags #lovethe918 or #tulsasmallbusiness.