Working from Home Can Be a Great Idea - Maybe
Your Home Office
Working from Home
Coworking May be a Good Alternative
Working from home, whether it's your house or apartment has tremendous appeal for some people. Every time you turn on the radio, you hear an ad pushing this or that work-from-home business. Working from home can have definite advantages, especially financial ones.
It can also be horrible.
Advantages of Working from Home
Working from home has one immediate advantage: low overhead expense. Not only do you forego rent or an additional mortgage payment, but you can legitimately write off part of your home expenses for business use on your tax return. Caution: the IRS gets very squirrely about home-office deductions. Be conservative, and be guided by your accountant. A rule to live by: never mess with the IRS.
There are other money-saving realities of working from home: save on gas; save on dry-cleaning ( business attire is required only if a client comes to visit); and you save on all of the expenses of maintaining an off-premises business, such as utilities, repairs, landscaping, snow removal, etc., because they are already factored into your home maintenance costs. Working from home also has distinct advantages, depending on your own needs. If you are a single parent, being there for your kids at the beginning or end of the school day is a gift for you and your kids. Waiting for the repairman—a reality of life. A broken refrigerator, washer, dryer, or a leaking roof all need attention, and your presence is required. You don’t need to take time off from the office because you are in your office. Some aspects of your personal life are also enhanced by working out of the house. You can hit the treadmill at mid-day, and who’s to notice?
It’s impossible to list all of the possible of types of businesses and professions that can be conducted from home because they are obvious—to you. Only you can decide if your home is the appropriate venue for your business or practice. Some businesses can start from home and migrate to a new location when circumstances, and budget, dictate. Whether the physical design of your home allows for appropriate meetings with clients is a key consideration. But, if your business is one that requires no specific location for meeting with people, you’re in luck. Very important: make sure to check your local zoning codes to make certain that your business is appropriate for running out of a residence. If you see virtually no clients at all, you don’t have a problem. But some professions that are client intensive are traditional occupations for a zoning blessing, even in a residential area, such as professional practices. This varies from state to state and from town to town, but the usual list of work from home businesses that are okay with the zoning folks include physicians, dentists, chiropractors, accountants, lawyers, and so on. And the list goes on. Check with your town hall. It’s easier to call them than to fight them.
Challenges of Working from Home
There are challenges, not necessarily disadvantages, because whether you can live and work with these details is entirely personal. Some writers, like the deservedly rich and famous novelist Nelson DeMille, found that working from his house (large as it is) didn’t suit him, so he goes to an office every day to do his writing. Different strokes for different folks.
Distractions are the biggest challenge of working where you live. There are always chores that scream at you to drop work and handle them. As you walk from one part of your home to another you pass by countless items that scream: “handle me!” But these numerous tasks that really are nothing more than distractions, and there is one best way to handle them: write them down and schedule a time to handle them.
Working from home does not—should not—mean that you get to sleep late and go to your home office in your pajamas. Time management is critical. Some prefer to get up, shower, and get dressed just as if they were heading out to an office, although without a tie. Some work-at-homers will even insist on wearing a dress shirt and tie, or a business suit for a woman. It is a reminder that you’re at work. Just as you plan your day at the office, you need to plan your day at your home office. Pick a time to show up in your home office, a time to go to lunch and, especially, a time to “go home.” Consider your home office a place to go and, just as important, a place to leave. Your family is, or should be, the most important thing in your life. Don’t burden them with your office work by staying late and neglecting them; but during working hours make sure they recognize that you are at work, not just in a different place in the house. If you’re just starting out and your house does not allow for a separate office, you will need to make a space in the house do “double-duty.” You need to do whatever works. Your double-duty space should be closed up or covered after your workday, or your workday will never end. Imagine sitting with your spouse and kids, watching TV or catching up on reading, and feeling guilty about not sitting at your desk working. If this happens to you, go out now and rent an office.
Working from home can be a great way to conduct a business, if appropriate to your circumstances. Just recognize that you need to have the right attitude, and institute the right practices to pull it off. Otherwise, you’ll just be a stay-at-home who gets a lot of laundry and other chores done, but very little business.
Coworking – A Modern Alternative to Working from Home
We are social animals, in varying degrees. Human beings, as a general rule, like to interact with other people. We like to chat, discuss ball scores, exchange ideas, and tell jokes. We like to say “good morning,” “good night,” and “have a nice weekend.” We are empowered by other people, and we, in turn, empower them. It is no wonder that one of the most rigorous forms of punishment is to put a prisoner in solitary confinement, depriving the person of interaction with other human beings. Some consider solitary confinement to be cruel and unusual punishment. When you work from home you miss the constant company of other people. Some work-at-homers run to the door when the UPS truck pulls up just to chat with the driver.
Small businesses, especially one person operations, can benefit from a new way of renting office space. Coworking means a desk, a possibly prestigious address, perhaps conference space, and most important, the opportunity to mingle with other small business and professional people. While there is more cost than working from home, the rents tend to be reasonable with no long term commitment, usually a month to month rental. The offerings for these spaces vary quite a bit, from just a desk, to the use of a conference room, high speed Internet hookup and WiFi. There may be a communal kitchen with coffee service. Some coworking locations even offer secretarial and reception capabilities.
Coworking facilities are usually found in densely populated areas. To see what offerings are out there, simply Google “coworking” and your town.If you fit the profile – a solo business person or professional, coworking may be an excellent solution for you.
Working from home can be a dream, but you need to set up some rules; and follow them.