By Gary Lovatt - Lead Member FSB Recruitment Ltd
There’s no doubt setting up a new business is a daunting yet exciting experience, especially when it comes to deciding where to set up your operations. Home working can be a great choice for those who are just setting up a new venture and believe it or not, there are now more than 4.2 million people who work from home in the UK.
Working from your dining room table or spare bedroom may not seem like the most professional set up but, realistically it may be the smartest option financially. With the right considerations and functionalities in place you will be able to create a productive work environment to run your business from.
So how do you go about setting up your dream home office?
Creating the right work space
Think long and hard about the actual space in which you are going to spend your time working in. It may sound obvious, but to aid productivity levels it’s important to have a specified space that is designated as your ‘work zone’. This will empower you to create boundaries between your work life and home life. Home working can give you the flexibility to work around your family life but you should make sure you don’t let your daily business priorities slip. Having a space to go into ‘work mode’ will help you stay focused.
There’s also a lot to be said about keeping a clear and organised work space. Storage is key and will allow you to stay organised and keep a productive mind-set. It will also help keep work items within your designated work space and stop them spilling out into the rest of your home. Like in any office, creating an environment that will inspire you, calm you and keep you focused on the task in hand will help you maintain a positive work ethic.
What IT equipment should I invest in?
Technology can be a mind field and especially when there’s no handy technician at your fingertips, it’ll take you a little while to get your head around everything you might need. It might be an idea to attend an IT course in person or online or even upskill yourself online, take the necessary precautions so that you’re fully prepared.
Start with the small things, in this day and age it is almost impossible to run a business without internet. Look into your provider to make sure your speed is compatible for both family and business use. A higher speed connection could help you to be more productive and hinder those awful technical issues that we all dread.
Once you’ve got that part sorted you’ll need to think about what software you’ll need, even though you might already have the basics there could be alternatives that you need to purchase. Take your time when doing this as it’s better to be fully set-up from the beginning so that it doesn’t limit your working capabilities. When choosing what you’ll need bear in mind what you’re currently using. Do you have a laptop or desktop and is it long overdue and upgrade? A laptop could be great for dashing out to meetings but depending on the industry you work in you might require a desktop, with who knows maybe even two screens.
Don’t forget your telephone system; this is something that can often be forgotten. You’ll more than likely already have a personal mobile but remember it’s important to maintain the separation between working and your personal life. A mobile could be best for you when you’re on the go but you may want to consider a separate land line telephone number too. However there is always the option of setting up a mobile divert so that you’ll be able to be reached at all times.
Along with a business phone, you might need to consider using a conference call service to keep in regular contact with clients, this is usually something that is provided within a working office. There are a lot of pay as you services available such as Powwownow that you can connect to from home or even on the go. Skype could also be a perfect solution here and it is well recognised worldwide, plus there is always the option for video calling to bring together that face to face connection.
Taking on employees
Now you’ve got all of your IT in place and your home set up is running smoothly, you could find that you’re in the position to recruit some extra support. You will need to consider if they will be joining you in the space room/office or if they’ll work from their own home. If the latter is the case, did you realise you are legally obligated to support your staff financially when it comes to heating and lighting bills? Also, if you provide them with any equipment to enable them to complete their daily tasks you are responsible – from a health and safety point of view - for any equipment you provide.
Ensure you are insured
Bringing work colleagues on board is a momentous position and achievement but make sure it’s done correctly. Even though you more than likely have home insurance, it might not cover all of your office equipment. Make sure you are covered against theft, loss and damage of all things relating to your business.
Running costs and expenses
Along with your insurance, you’ll need to be accountable for your day-to-day business activity. Think about internet supplier costs, your phone line and the little things like paper, ink, business cards etc. You should definitely open a business bank account to enable you to monitor all of your costs effectively.
Family and neighbours
So this is it, you’re ready to go and your new venture has just begun. Your family and neighbours will be just as excited as you are. But now they’ll be seeing a lot more of you at home, it is important that they understand you are at work. More importantly you’ll need to stay disciplined because even though skipping an hour or two of your working day is ‘doable’ you need to retain your profit and continue to grow your business.
You’ll also need to perfect the art of not putting off those difficult tasks; it can always seem like a good idea at the time but just stay focussed. Even though there’s ironing to do and you really should hoover the living room, remember you’re at work so maintain that mentality.
Working from home could be the ideal solution from a lifestyle and financial point of view. Take all of the positives and negatives into consideration when deciding if you should join the 4.2million people in the UK who have already become a home worker. Above all think about the most important thing, what will work best for your business and of course help to increase your important bottom line.