Picture this – you’ve just rolled up to your favourite Chinese Takeaway, desperately in need of Prawn Toast, and as you reach the doorway your heart sinks… ‘Closed for Refurbishment’. It’s a little disappointing, but it’s understandable; so many businesses with physical premises (rather than virtual ‘work from anywhere’ businesses) have to close their doors for a few days every couple of years for a super-clean or complete refurbishment, and we understand why; if we want them to continue to be comfortable and welcoming spaces to visit, or if we want their staff to be using the latest equipment so that they can carry out their jobs as efficiently as possible, they need a little time to do this.
The idea of being ‘Closed for Refurbishment’ is an interesting one. It’s not like a business owner is away on holiday (though this is perfectly reasonable too!), or simply can’t be bothered to open up. As customers, we understand that a business owner is investing in their business if they are re-vamping their premises, and despite any minor inconvenience that this might cause us, we have to agree that it is a sensible business move. For the vast majority of freelancers that I know, shutting down shop for a few days for a physical refurbishment of their working environment is unlikely to be accepted as a legitimate reason for restricting their billable hours for a couple of days! But why is this the case?
Everybody knows the feeling of working consistently long hours in an unappealing working environment… you can’t find anything, you might be physically uncomfortable in the space, and it’s hard to feel motivated and inspired when your surroundings are cold/damp/unfinished/messy. From this perspective, taking a couple of days out for a physical refurbishment or deep clean and tidy could be a justifiable business expense, as if your productivity and motivation increase significantly post-refurbishment, then the ‘loss’ of a couple of days of billable hours could be absorbed by the increased income you are able to generate in your swanky new office, where everything is simple to find and use!
However, it doesn’t just have to be a physical refurbishment that demands a short-term business closure… what about if you were to invest in some new hardware or software to streamline your business processes? If it takes your PC 90 minutes to warm up, and it is constantly crashing or causing problems, imagine how much time you could save with some new technology? Even if your computer or laptop is working perfectly well, there are a huge range of productivity tools out there that promise to free up whole days’ worth of working time every week or month (for example, marketing and sales automation software, if that is an area that you currently spend a lot of time working in)… so if you were able to take a couple of days out of the office to set up the software, familiarise yourself with it and integrate it with your own business processes, in the long term it is highly likely that you would be able to recover the ‘lost earnings’ with income from your newly improved and super efficient business!
Whether or not you need to shut down for a physical refurbishment of your working space, or a revamp of the technology and tools you use to run your business, closing down for a few days and giving your customers plenty of notice of that closure should still be an option for remote freelance workers. Yes, your customers might not benefit directly from a comfortable new office chair and desk, filing system or shiny new bit of tech, but they will indirectly benefit from your increased efficiency, productivity and motivation.
What could you ‘refurbish’ in your business?