What’s not to like about working from home? Less stress, no rent and a journey to the office that’s the envy of millions of stressed commuters. Working from home makes good business sense, not to mention the extra benefit of being able to dip in and out of work and family life flexibly with little juggling, and a better chance of achieving that ever elusive work-life balance. There are some pitfalls to consider though, so here’s a guide to give you a few tips to help you when running your business from home.
Working from home can be lonely and isolating, so you have to make an extra effort to stay connected with your peers. You can do this by becoming a member of a networking group, joining a peer support group, working with a mentor or coach, or if possible potentially going into an office or meeting up with employees one day a week just to keep in the loop and get a taste of the buzz of office life. This is especially important if you’re switching from a busy office environment full time, and can really ease the transition – otherwise the silence and isolation can take a toll, especially if you love the constant social interaction that being part of a business office team offers. There are online communities and forums you can join to stay connected, so take advantage of these so you have a support system in place when you need it. You’ll also end up building a network of people around you who might refer business to you in future. Don’t just hide behind the computer – get out and meet people.
If you’re starting your home business, or switching from an office environment, it can be easy to overlook some of the legalities that apply to you. For example, running a business from home will affect your capital gains tax when you do decide to sell your house, unless you use your office space for dual purposes. This means that if the room you use as an office doubles up as, say, a guest bedroom, you will still be entitled to the full capital gains relief applied to residential properties. If, however, the room is used exclusively for business purposes, that portion of the house will be taxable. This is even more important if you’re employing other people as part of your business who will also work from home – as your employees will be entitled to similar standards to those provided to office-based employees. Although most likely they’ll each set up their own office space, it’s your responsibility to check out the health and safety of their work environment and make sure it’s suitable – in particular a proper desk, chair, and IT equipment. You should also make sure you have adequate insurance so you won’t be out of pocket should something go wrong.