Vana Koutsomitis

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How to set up your startup workplace for productivity and success.

My biggest piece of advice is this: try not to work from home.

When I first started my company, I did not consider renting an office or workspace. My assumption was that I would work from home. It seemed like the perfect setup; I wouldn’t have to waste time on commuting and I could focus all my energy on my startup. Within a month, however, I realized the downsides of working from home.

Initially, working from home made me work longer hours because I would work from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to sleep. But this was neither sustainable nor productive. Although I was working more hours, I was not utilizing my time efficiently. The time I spent on my personal tasks began to blend in with my work time. Before I knew it, I found myself working in pajamas and doing my household chores during my lunch break.

Working from home also made me feel lonely. I began spending the entire day at home alone and did not interact much with people. This was a stark contrast to working in an office, where you interact with colleagues throughout the day.

Early on, I made the decision to rent a desk from a friend of mine who had a startup of his own. I paid a small fixed fee per month to utilize the desk and I could come and go as I pleased. This is something I highly recommend, if you have the financial resources to do so. Setting aside a small allocation for workspace can be enormously beneficial for your productivity, efficiency and mental health.

If you are able to spare a bit of money each month, you can consider the following options:
Co-working spaces are a good option.
Co-working spaces allow you to work among a group of likeminded individuals in an office environment. Surrounding yourself with this startup energy is beneficial because it propels you forward and can motivate you to get the most out of your workday.

Another added benefit of working in a shared space is the new connections you can create. Expanding your network will help you get integrated into your local startup scene. Other entrepreneurs can help you by giving you tips and advice and they can also introduce you to relevant partners, employees or investors.

Or you can rent a desk from an existing startup.
This is the route that I chose from the beginning and it has worked well for me so far. It is a more intimate option than the co-working space, where you often have hundreds of people within the same building. Additionally, it is a more stable option when it comes to having a desk of your own. In a co-working space, you will rotate desks each day, depending on when you come and go. If you rent from an existing startup, you will probably be allocated a desk that you can keep on a daily basis. This makes it easier to leave your belongings in the office, which is very convenient.

If you are tight on cash, work from a coffee shop.
Working from a coffee shop is my least favorite option, as it can often be loud and distracting, but it is definitely preferable to working from home. Spending your days in a caffeinated, buzzing environment is beneficial because it is energizing and allows you to separate your work time from your personal time. Additionally, it will expose you to people, which will ensure that you don’t feel lonely and isolated the way I did when I first started working on my startup.

Creating structure is crucial for maximizing your productivity as an entrepreneur. After a few years of working on my own, I have perfected my workplace setup, so it really works for me. The structure and routine that I have created sets me up for success. Although I don’t work in a large office or have a “start time” every morning, I create an office environment and set a schedule that I stick to.

Overall, I think choosing the right place to work is crucial to succeeding as an early stage startup. Stay tuned next week for my blog post about how to structure your daily routine!

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