When Working from Home is Not Working: Considering an Offsite Workspace

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My home office isn't just a desk, chair, and computer. Somehow, it's also become a studio, audio and video equipment storage locker, client meeting room, and crash pad. Honestly, I feel lucky to have the space at all. But lately it has started to feel limiting and making home life stressful. It raises the question: when should creatives consider an offsite workspace?

In my home city of Minneapolis, there are plenty of great studios looking to share and rent space, as well as provide storage lockers for large and heavy equipment. However, it all comes down to cost. A friend of mine who is also a business pro gave me these five great pieces of advice:

1. Assign a value to the workspace at home. 
The basic formula works like this: add up the rent or mortgage, plus any utilities and additional miscellaneous costs like cable, phone line, etc., then divide the sum by the square footage of the home. This number is cost your per square foot. Then, multiply the square footage of your current office space by the cost per square foot. This is the "rent" for a home workspace.

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2. Determine a budget based on the aforementioned value and estimated additional space.
The problem with my current arrangement is the lack of space. But now I have a number of what I should realistically be looking to pay per square foot. I estimated I will need another 50 square feet of storage space, so I multiplied 50 x my current cost per square foot and arrived at a number I can stomach.

3. Consider tax savings in current vs. new situation.
The square footage I'm currently using for my studio is tax deductible, but after talking with my accountant, the flat fee I'd pay to a shared studio would likely result in a better cost/benefit for me. I would never try to figure out the tax savings on my own, so I recommend consultation with a certified tax professional for each individual situation.

4. Estimate non-rent expenses.
Any new space I rent may require me to drive or take the bus. Additional transportation costs could quickly offset any other savings. The same goes for any parking costs at the building.

5. Try a temporary solution first.
Many annual lease studio rentals are far less expensive when compared to month-to-month arrangements. But since this is the first time I'm considering a rental, a one month test will be helpful before making a more permanent commitment.

(Photo Credits: Elizabeth Giorgi)

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Liz is a writer and filmmaker from Minneapolis. She was nominated for a Webby and won an Emmy for Science of Watchmen, a documentary short about the physics in the comic book movie. She’s a tech obsessive, verified nerd and total Anglophile.

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