It’s a dream that many of us have and more and more of us are achieving. Working from home, whether as your own boss, or working for your current employer is becoming a more popular situation as many employees and employers are realising that it has benefits including less stress, improved productivity, and if enough people are working from home – an impact in the overheads of the business.
People imagine that working from home means that you have more freedom, that you can get up and work whenever you like, go and sit in the garden if the weather is nice, watch TV whenever you want to, play games on facebook and generally lounge around. If you are one of those people then you are in for a shock if you do ever work from home. Below are some of the points you may want to consider.
Benefits of you working from home – for you:-
Working for yourself
- In theory get up whenever you want and work the hours you want, however the chance are you will have clients who probably expect to get hold of you during the working day (which here in the UK is still really seen as 9am to 5 or 5:30pm).
- Sitting in the garden is a nice idea but is rarely practical. Again, your first priority is to your clients – Will they be able to reach you by phone, or email? If as so many of us do in this day and age, you need to use a computer for your line of business, is there a wifi connection you can use to connect to pick up emails, do any research on the web etc? Of course if there is (or you do not need a connection or PC) then it’s more than possible to sit in a garden chair and work but you should bear in mind that it may be less than ideal position and could impact your health if you can’t use your computer safely.
- Watching TV sounds great. But while you are watching TV you are likely to become distracted by whatever you are watching and if you are distracted, you can’t be working to your full potential and you will still have the issue of your clients wanting to contact you.
- Playing games online is fun, whether its facebook, World of Warcraft (WoW) or one of the myriad of other games, no-one denies that, but it is just like the TV – if you are playing one of the games then you are not working to your full potential. Sending the odd email out between levels is hardly the same as a full day’s work and if you don’t work you don’t earn the money, and if you don’t earn money then how will you pay your bills?
Working for your employer
- If you are working for your employer, you will probably be expected to work the same hours as your office based colleagues who may need to reach you by phone, IM or email in addition to any clients who may need to reach you.
- The same drawbacks apply to sitting in the garden, if you have the facilities then all well and good, but don’t rub it in to your office based workmates who are stuck in an office looking at the sunshine through the window.
- There are very few bosses that would be happy for you to be watching TV or playing games on their time (unless of course you are lucky enough to be a games tester) and they may ask you to prove what you are doing with your time. So be sure to keep accurate records and not spend your days in ways that they would be unhappy with.
Benefits of working from home – for your employer:-
Although there may seem to be a “loss of control” when you allow your employees to work from home, there are benefits too. These include
- If you have less people in the office it may mean you are able to downsize, or even get rid of your office completely – meaning a sizeable reduction in overheads.
- Studies have shown that people tend to be more productive when they aren’t constantly being distracted by office chatter and gossip.
- Lower rates of days off – as many people who call in sick when they have to go into work, may not if they work from home as often it is the prospect of the journey to the office that puts them off.
- Lower staff turnover – as people can arrange to work hours that are more suitable to them which will also result in lower recruitment costs for your company.
- It may be possible to open for longer if you have staff that are willing to work later, which will improve customer satisfaction levels
As well as the points mentioned above, there are other things to consider if you are working from home. These range from the equipment that you are using (who does it belong to and who licenses the software for example – a lot of software can only be used at home if it is not being used in the office at the same time). Who is responsible for insuring the equipment should you need to make a claim on your home insurance after a flood / fire / break-in?
Then there are things like where will you actually work? The dining room table sounds attractive but this then means that you can’t use the table without putting everything away. It’s a better idea to have a home office, somewhere that is set aside for work and is set up with all the equipment that you may need. New housing developments often contain a study area or room that is intended to be suitable as a home office – this is a big improvement on houses built a few years ago when you had to lose a bedroom, convert a garage or put an outbuilding into the garden if you wanted a dedicated office space. Employers also then have the option of participating in the “rent a room” scheme which allows you to have a certain amount of money – tax-free – in your wages.