One in 16 workers in the UK work from home. This is a huge step up from even just a few years ago, and shows how the way we work is changing.
Many of these individuals are freelancers and sole traders, running their small business from their home premises.
However, the home working environment brings both benefits and pitfalls. How do you maximise on the advantages as well as boosting productivity, whilst minimising the challenges?
Here are the six steps you need to creating a professional home office.
When you work from home, it’s easy for the lines between business and your personal life to become a murky no man’s land. Therefore, from the outset you need to distinctly separate home-life and work-life within the framework of your home workspace.
Whilst it is easy to see why this is necessary if you have clients visiting your home, it’s also essential for other reasons. You will find that you feel (and therefore are) more productive if you have a separate office space.
Find a spot somewhere in your home where this is possible – perhaps a spare room, a garden cabin, a converted garage or even a desk in your entrance hall.
As you choose the spot, consider privacy and reducing distractions. If the rest of the household will be home when you’re working this is particularly important. You want to be able to ‘switch on’ to work but also ‘switch off’ too.
Even the most creative, free-thinking workers will need to implement organisational tactics if they want to successfully work from home. Think creatively with your space to reduce clutter and organise your work documents.
Remember, if you need to buy new furniture, such as a filing cabinet for business use, you can claim this as an expense on your self-assessment tax return.
If you’re used to the infrastructure of a large office then working from home can be a shock to the system. You’re going to need to invest in the equipment you need. This will include technology such as laptops and printers, as well as services such as broadband.
Don’t forget to invest in key items such as a comfortable ergonomic desk chair and appropriate lighting, again these can be entered on to your self-assessment tax return.
Home offices can grow in a haphazard piecemeal way. However, injecting some design concepts in to your home office will ensure that you remain on task and productive in your workspace. Use colour to define the space as ‘work’, which is distinct from the relaxation and functional areas of your home. Neutral shades are a good option if you’re unsure which colours to choose.
Even if you’re not going to have clients visiting your home workspace, you should still consider creating a professional setting. This is because by creating a professional workplace, even within the home, you set the tone for your working life. This in turn impacts on productivity and success.
The insurance you need when setting up a home office will depend on the nature of your business and whether you will be receiving clients, or the public, on site. Give your home insurance providers a call and explain the nature of your business. They will be able to advise whether you need additional insurance, such as indemnity or public liability insurance, or whether you simply need amendments made to your usual home insurance policy.
Do you run a business from home? What are your top tips for creating a perfect home office? Leave a comment in the section below.