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Summary:

A few of my local clients like to meet in person every so often. We usually go to a local coffee house — we’re able to take laptops along, if we need to double check something online and we can get coffee while we talk. But […]

A few of my local clients like to meet in person every so often. We usually go to a local coffee house — we’re able to take laptops along, if we need to double check something online and we can get coffee while we talk. But sometimes a coffee shop isn’t convenient or a client wants to meet for longer than is really fair to sit in a coffee shop. I’m in exactly that situation: I’ve got a client who I need to work with in person for a couple of hours. She doesn’t have an office outside of her home and neither do I. We’re going to meet at my house.

It’s not the easiest decision in the world for a lot of web workers. Whether you’re talking about clients or co-workers, letting them into your house can seem like a bad idea. It’s not as simple as inviting a friend over.

Do You Have a Professional Space?

One of the deciding factors on whether you should let a client into your home is whether you have a professional area in which you can work. There’s a big difference in having a meeting in your home office, where you can both sit comfortably and shut the door, and having a meeting at the kitchen table, with family wandering in and out.

Professionalism goes beyond distractions, as well. I don’t hide the fact that I work from home, but I want my clients to know that when I tell them I’m working, they don’t think I’m catching a cat nap, watching television or doing the laundry. That means that being able to show them a clean office with minimal distractions is a matter of building their confidence in my work.

Can You Work With Your Client/Co-worker At Your Home?

Just because you can get all your work done in your home doesn’t always mean that you can conduct a meeting there. Something as simple as being able to squeeze a spare chair in your office can make a huge difference in whether you’ll be able to accomplish what you hope to with your meeting. Other little details, like whether your client/co-worker can get online, can be worth considering.

Distractions can be an important factor. Coffee shops can have a few of their own with the number of people who walk by, but a home can present special challenges. Even if you don’t need to worry about family or pets, simple things like phone calls can be harder to ignore at home.

Are You Personally Comfortable With the Idea?

There are plenty of people who aren’t comfortable with the idea of bringing their work home with them — even if they work from home. It’s a personal preference to keep meetings outside of the place where you live and it’s perfectly reasonable to say no. There are alternatives out there, even in situations when a coffee shop won’t work: some buildings will rent out conference rooms on an hourly basis or you may have a coworking space near you.

There is something to be said for your clients not knowing where you live, especially if you work with most of them online — it’s the reason that some web workers choose to use a P.O. box as their mailing address. There are both privacy and security issues involved. Don’t let yourself feel pressured into letting someone into your home that you don’t feel comfortable having there, even if you work with that person.

Do You Want Your Client to Come to Your Home?

If you come to the conclusion that meeting with a client or a co-worker at your home makes sense, go for it. You may want to do a little prep to make sure that your home office is ready to welcome someone other than you — personally, I’m cleaning up and even dragging the vacuum into my office for the first time in forever. Have a chat with family or roommates to make sure that distractions will be kept to a minimum.

Do you stage meetings in your home office?

Image by Flickr user Fabio Bruna

By Thursday Bram

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  1. what about those “co working” offices, the kind that will rent space by the hour

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  2. I think that it exist some office places that you can rent by the hour, specially for meeting clients and stuff like that, instead of using your home.

    Have you already tried those?

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  3. Co-working spaces are most common in large cities (there are a few here in the Seattle area), but people in rural setting would be hard pressed to find the same. Libraries, churches or community centers often have conference rooms that can be rented (with notice) and most have WiFi.

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  4. I personally think that the decision is different for client vs. co-worker. I wouldn’t mind have co-workers over to get to know them better. Clients– it really depends the type of business and how well you know them.

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  5. My local library has two closed meeting rooms available to anyone who asks. They are pretty decent for the price: FREE. Conference tables and free wi-fi.

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  6. Co-working spaces can be great… but they aren’t always the most convenient options, as Heather says. I live close to two big cities (Baltimore and DC), that both have great co-working spaces — but they’re still quite a drive.

    There are some offices buildings that offer conference rooms for an hourly rate — it’s a matter of calling around and finding one.

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  7. For me it’s literally a non-issue: my professional indemnity insurance does not allow it. After all, if a client tripped on the proverbial icy step while coming into my house for a meeting, they could sue me. You may wish to check your own insurance for the fine print on that matter.

    Aside from that, in the UK, using your home office as meeting space rather than simple desk space may expose you to liability for paying business rates, as your home office may be viewed as commercial premises. That raises the possibility of having a rates assessor come to your home to assess the commercial value of 1/6th or whatever of your property, charge you for that, then delete that from your council tax rates. Best to avoid that whole mess altogether and go to a coffeehouse!

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