“Working from a home office can be great, but it can also test your sanity, at times.”
So you are pretty sure you have all your ducks in a row, and you feel ready to push out of your home and into a separate space. Though having a professional, dedicated space is usually better for business, it is not the only way to do business. Consider this move carefully. There are certainly advantages to securing a conventional, brick-and-mortar office. You can comfortably entertain and meet with clients in-house; your wife, husband, kids, and roommates are not there to take away from your focus; and you will not be distracted with household projects while at work. At the same time, office expenses can really cut into the budget. If you are a new business with high growth potential, you could end up signing a lease on a space that you outgrow in a matter of months. Chances are, you do not need the space right now, and if you ever do, you will have a much better idea of what is needed after a few months or years of experience. The goal of this article is only to remind you that this decision should not be taken lightly and that working from home can be a great experience. Here are some good tips on how to make your home office work for you.
1. Punch In and Punch Out
First and foremost, conduct yourself while you are working from home in exactly the same way that you would if you were commuting to your office every day. You will find that working in your boxers makes you somewhat less productive; so, get dressed, walk to your office, and get it done. Working by yourself in this setting requires a great deal of self-discipline, but it is absolutely necessary to keep a regular schedule, if you are to stay on task. Start your day routinely, and end it routinely. Having a cutoff time is important to keeping your work life from bleeding into your personal life.
2. Don’t Isolate Yourself
It is possible to have a 100 percent remote team and be very successful, but the key is to not get too comfortable working remotely. Keep it real, and arrange at least one time per week to meet face-to-face with your founders or team members. Whether these meetings last all day, or a few hours, seeing each other’s faces goes a long way toward boosting morale for you and your team. If you are unable to physically meet—Skype.
3. Go Mobile
Working from a home office can be great, but it can also test your sanity, at times. Just because you built an office in your basement, does not mean that you have to get stuck there, day in and day out. Change the venue every once in a while—a couple times a week, even. Grab your briefcase and your laptop, and hit the road. If the weather is nice, try a park nearby; a coffee shop works really well; you may even brave the library. The point is that if you get claustrophobic or just stir-crazy, your work suffers. Get out and move around as much as you need to, so you can keep your head clear and centered.
4. Define Your Workspace
Working in this setting can be difficult at times, especially when your family or roommates are always around while you are trying to work. If you have not already had the conversation, it is a good idea to make it clear to your housemates that your workspace is just that—a space for work. That is not to say that you cannot benefit from an in-house support system, when you need it, but routine distractions from the very same people is something you should avoid as much as possible. Beyond that, as this is exclusively a work space, feel free to organize and decorate it as such. Just like holding a regular schedule, creating an atmosphere that lends itself to responsible, concentrated work will help you keep your head in the right place.
5. Keep ‘Em Separated
Last, but not least, your business needs a separate phone system. The goal of Talkroute is to implement just such a system for small businesses because it is vital to give your callers the most painless experience possible. Cute as it may seem, your customers and partners will be underwhelmed when your 4-year-old daughter answers every time they call you. Having a dedicated phone line for your office is essential to projecting professionalism to those who are forming an opinion of your company.
Too many new business owners stepped out a little too early, being overzealous and eager to slap their name on a new building. Don’t be a casualty. What good is leasing the perfect facility if your company tanks 3 months later because you ran out of money? Jay Goltz from the New York Times warned in an applicable business article that one of the most common reasons why a business fails is the “lack of a cash cushion”. He goes on to explain that without this extra padding under the mattress, so to speak, a sudden event could drain what working capital your company has. Setting up shop in your home is not the worst thing in the world; in fact, it may be the most favorable option for a small business. Working from home as a solo entrepreneur, or with a team of remote employees, can be an awesome experience.
Are you a mom with a home business? Here’s some expert advice from women who are sympathetic to moms who are also CEOs:
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1. Jay Goltz, “Top 10 Reasons Small Businesses Fail,” New York Times, January 5, 2011, http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/05/top-10-reasons-small-businesses-fail/?_r=1