More and more people are choosing to work from home, currently there are approximately 1.5 million home workers in the UK. Whether you are considering conducting your own small business from home or whether you would be spending some time at the official place of work whilst balancing your home life and family commitments there are several things to consider.
Home working does not suit everyone, some people can feel isolated and miss the camaraderie and support of work colleagues, some simply admit to not being very disciplined about knuckling down to the job in hand when distractions such as the television and the kettle are beckoning so close at hand! Spending some time in the office and some time working from home can be the ideal solution, a few days spent in the office may help you appreciate the peace and quiet to tackle things which need you to concentrate on which you can achieve with a dedicated home office. With technology improving all the time, broadband and wireless internet connections, communication between the office and home has allowed many people to work from home just a few days of the week to fit in with family commitments and to cut down on long and stressful commuting problems. Of course if you are running your own business you may have no options, office space can be hard to find, expensive to rent, insure, maintain and make secure. Maybe you have a room within your house which you think may fulfil the purpose, at least initially. This is obviously the cheapest and easiest option but there can be downfalls to this as well. When trying to balance family life with work commitments it can be difficult to lay down the ground rules to children and other family members if you are trying to work off the dining room table with the television blaring in the background and the thud of the bass beat of the latest music download coming through the floorboards of your teenager's bedroom above! An upstairs bedroom can be converted into your office space but if you have house guests it can be a bit of an imposition to have to tidy all that paperwork and rediscover the spare bed lurking somewhere underneath all those Tax Returns paperwork!
Here are a few pointers which may help you manage your time and efficiency when working from home:
- Don't cut yourself off from work colleagues - sometimes you will need the support and motivation of work colleagues who understand the problems, the goals and what you are trying to achieve better than your family and friends who don't have the insider points of view.
- Arrange regular times or days when you go to the official workplace, regular contact will make sure you are kept abreast of current issues and will remind colleagues that you exist
- Make sure you can stay in touch via e-mail, fax and telephone - don't allow yourself to be forgotten when you are out of the office loop
- If you are contracting or freelancing - remember to make personal visits from time to time to customers, clients etc - face to face contact is always more meaningful and memorable than other forms of communication
- Make sure than other family members appreciate that whilst you may be at home all day, you are actually working and therefore household chores will not be done until the official working day is over (and they need to pull their weight!) and you are not available for solving trivial sibling disputes, making dinner or running a taxi service until you leave your office!
- Don't feel guilty about arranging childcare, just because you are at home, you are still working and if that work had to be carried out somewhere other than home you wouldn't think twice about the need for childcare. Don't try to juggle family life and work any differently than if you were working out of an official workplace.
- It is easy to work just a little bit longer when there are no defined times and you could risk losing out precious personal and family time if you are not strict about work
- Conversely, treat your home working as seriously as you would going out to work and don't allow yourself to be distracted by daytime television on a regular basis, set yourself a routine which you can happily live with and then stick to it for the most part but allow yourself some occasional flexibility - after all that is one of the biggest benefits of working from home.
- It might be worth checking with your employer (if you have one) whether they will help with some of the business related expenses that you incur working from home including the set up of your own home office, they may be prepared to let you have office furniture and equipment.
- Aim for a dedicated and definable workspace, don't clear the dining table each time you need to eat! Have a door that can be closed and close it when you need to be left in peace.
- Consider having a separate telephone line installed and turn on the answering machine when the official working day is over for business calls and do the same with personal calls during your working day. Make a definition between work and personal time.
It may be at this stage that you start considering having some dedicated home office space. Many people feel that by having a designated office makes them more disciplined, when they enter their office they go into work mode and family members find it easier to accept that when Mum or Dad disappears into their office they must be left in peace until they re-emerge (other than to keep you supplied with tea and biscuits at regular intervals!). There are more and more purpose built stand alone buildings now being manufactured to meet the increasing demands for home working and it need not be as expensive as you might initially imagine. Some of the considerations you may need to take into account:-
- How large a space do I really need, will it need to comfortably house 1 person or more?
- Do I need just desk space or will I need some storage area as well?
- Do I need a meeting area, a space for a coffee table and a couple of chairs?
- Will I be using it in all weathers and therefore need double glazing and insulation?
- Can I get electrics into it easily?
- Do I need planning permission?
- Do I need to investigate a change of use from the local council from domestic property to part business?
- Where shall I site my home office?
- Am I happy to adapt a log cabin, summerhouse or workshop or shall I buy a purpose built office which I can just move into?
- What is my budget?
- What are my timescales?
Armed with the answers to the above questions and any other which pertain to you and your business you will than be able to make more informed choices from the wealth of possible home and garden offices that are available. Taylors Garden Buildings have numerous garden buildings which are either dedicated purpose built home offices designed to be installed and are ready for you to move into and work from within just a few weeks of placing the order, others are log cabins, summerhouses or workshop style buildings which lend themselves to being adapted to suit your individual needs, both aesthetically and from a practicality point of view. Our customer service team are very knowledgeable about the products available and having dealt with numerous enquiries, sales and after sales service over the years they are armed with plenty of useful and pertinent information.
We have recently taken on board this trend in working from home and have sourced an excellent range of dedicated, purpose built home offices from Henley Offices. We are very pleased to have become official Agents for Henley Offices and have just had the Henley Homespace Orwell garden office installed here at our show site near Norwich. This range of home offices come fully insulated and the price includes installation which is carried out by a team of trained Henley Office installers who can complete the job usually in just one day. There are various options such as various external colours, window and door blinds, carpet (in some models carpet comes as standard) and even a desk and storage system in a choice of two finishes. These home offices have a 5 year manufacturer's guarantee but in reality they have been designed to have a much longer life than this - approximately 20 years! These garden offices can also be taken down and re-assembled by the Henley Offices team of installers if you are moving house and want to take your office with you! Our display model office is fully fitted with carpet, venetian window and door blinds and a multi desk storage system and we have samples of alternative colours etc available for inspection too!