Once you’ve made the case with your employer to work from home—either part-time or full-time—or are self-employed and thus decided that working from home makes good business sense, you need to consider your communication and connectivity options carefully.
One expense that is almost unavoidable is the business phone line. It is possible to make those business calls on your home phone line, but if you make any volume of calls or expect “important incoming business calls” you should seriously reconsider this option.
If you have children, roommates or just a chatty spouse a single phone line just won’t do the trick. Additionally, having a single line for all your home and home office needs won’t satisfy Uncle Sam at tax time, so unless you itemize calls you can’t really consider the phone line a “biz line” if you gab with friends and relatives all weekend long.
For my own home and home office situation I’ve opted instead to go with a single line—and this phone line truly is for business. I use my mobile phone for all personal calls instead, and actually have both mobile business and mobile personal phones—hopefully those brain cancer fears are just fears.
Today, there are plenty of options for the home office user to stay connected. Many of these options will let you cut a few corners in the process. Here are a few solutions for home office business phone lines:
*Mobile business phone – One good solution is to have a mobile phone that is your business line. With a mobile business line you can be contacted pretty much anywhere you go, and more importantly you only have to check voice mail on one line. The downside is that the bills can add up if you get a lot of calls so consider a plan that offers more daytime minutes.
*VoIP – Voice over IP is a must if you talk a lot. Skype offers free outgoing calls in the United States and it is very simple to do Skype-to-Skype calls to your contacts. For international calls, I’ve found that it is hard to beat the price and quality of Skype as well. You can even get a Skype phone number for incoming calls at a reasonable cost. And to further save money, look into VoIP options for your mobile phone. You can make international calls on your mobile handset at rates that are much cheaper than traditional cellular phone prices.
*Digital phone services – Everybody is getting into the digital phone service it seems, and for home office users now is the time to see what deals you can get with having Internet, cable TV and phone service as a bundle. The savings can add up nicely and the only tricky part is separating and itemizing the phone and possibly Internet services on the taxes from the cable TV.
*Traditional landline – Obviously Ma Bell and the other old-fashioned phone companies don’t want to be left behind. Thus you should check and see what plans are being offered, including those that include a second phone line. In some cases these may be reasonable and within your budget.