Having a home office and working from home can be a blessing and a curse. Here are 10 tips that’ll help you enjoy working in your own space.
1. Figure out tax repercussions
Having a home office for your own business can be great, but there are some steps you should take to make sure you are reporting the space appropriately for taxes.
To write off home-office costs, you must use the area for work only and on a regular basis. You should be able to write off 100 percent of costs associated exclusively with your home office — everything from buying a work computer to office supplies.
In general, if the square footage of your home office equals 10 percent of your home’s, you can claim 10 percent of your mortgage/rent, insurance and utility bills as well.
2. Create a daily work schedule
When working from home, it’s more important than ever to maintain work/life balance.
If you work for one company, try to set well-defined work hours to avoid phone calls and emails without boundaries on your personal time. If you are a well organized self-starter with time management skills, you’ll be better off.
3. Keep your visibility high
If climbing the corporate ladder is important to you, you may want to reconsider working from home. People who work from home are often saddled with an unfair label that they can’t really manage others while working from home. Even getting promoted can get tied up in an out-of-sight, out-of-mind worldview.
To help ward that off, make an effort to show-up on a regular basis for meetings and other office gatherings.
4. Be an extrovert
While there are plenty of benefits to working in quiet solitude, working remotely can keep you from building relationships and meeting new people.
Co-workers can also be envious of your freedom, so make the effort to get out of the house and get in an out-of-the-office lunch or coffee with them to avoid the hard feelings.
5. Network electronically
One of the ways to keep up your connections is to network electronically. Look into judicious use of social media – particularly those outlets that can relate to your profession, such as LinkedIn. Comment on posts and contribute your own to display your expertise and get that connected feeling.
6. Get dressed (or not)
It’s pretty standard work-from-home law to get dressed as if you’re going to the office. But if you’re going to be more comfortable and can stay focused on work while in jeans and a T-shirt – that’s one of the benefits of working at home.
Do keep in mind, though, that if you are going to be meeting or videoconferencing with co-workers or clients, you should dress appropriately.
7. Be prepared to be your own IT department
If you run into a technical glitch with your computer, you may very well be left to your own devices.
If you’re an employee, try to butter up someone in the IT department, who you can reach out to in a pinch. If not, invest in some training – possibly an inexpensive class at a community college or know the quickest route to the Apple store in your neighborhood.
8. Become familiar with web-based applications
Know the cloud, love the cloud – it’s your friend. Getting a monthly unlimited subscription to Dropbox has been one of my better investments – my files are always where I can get at them, no matter where I happen to be. And if you need to give presentations, you should get conversant with Web-based meeting programs like GoToMeeting, Skype, Cisco WebEx, Join.me, TeamViewer or Google+ Hangouts.
9. Don’t forget about insurance
It’s probably a good idea to get an insurance rider in case the Fedex man trips. Most home-business owners have little or no coverage from their homeowner’s policy. What’s more, if you file a homeowner’s (or renter’s) claim for losses that stemmed from an undisclosed home-based business, your insurer may not cover it.
Each state sets its own rules about the insurance coverage that can be offered to home-based businesses.
10. Set up your computer so you don’t waste time online…
…by doing things like reading top ten lists. Wait — what?
Seriously, though, surfing all your favorite sites is a great way to make your productivity go down the tubes during the workday.
Try setting up two user accounts – one for work, which allows the apps and sites you need to get work done, and another for personal use. If you continue to have issues, try getting a laptop for personal use and put it somewhere inconvenient during the day.