For a small startup business, working in a home office can be a money saving solution — and even for medium-sized businesses, letting workers telecommute can actually increase productivity.
But while working from home sounds like a dream to a lot of people, others find that it is hard to keep working and stay productive. And for type-A workaholics, a work-at-home situation can make it just as hard to call it a day and stop working. It does take a careful balance to make working from home work!
The most important consideration is that a worker has somewhere to set up shop, and that the home-based worker can stay connected. The latter is much easier to accommodate in this day and age. Broadband Internet connectivity is available throughout most of the United States, and applications such as Skype can make calling clients and co-workers — and even conference calls — very affordable.
But the issue of a home office can be complicated. As a freelance writer I do most of my working in my home office. When my wife and I bought the apartment in 1999 we were priced out of two bedrooms and found a solution with a large one bedroom. We divided the large bedroom in half and created a small, but very functional home office. This has accommodated my needs very well, and even allowed both my wife and I to work together from home when she was self-employed.
Fortunately we did very well on our investment and are moving to a larger apartment. This new space will allow each of us to have a home office, but we still need to make a few adjustments. I will note that the issue of the home office deduction is one I’ll leave to the accountants. I know there are specific rules, and so this is a topic for another day.
Instead, I’m going to focus here on the issue of making the most of less space. Even with our new apartment we’ll still be tight on space and have to make a few compromises to make it work for us. We found a three-bedroom place, but in unlike our current apartment the bedrooms are actually on the small size. This is acceptable. Additionally, we have to make each of our offices a “mixed use” room. In my wife’s case she’ll have an office that will allow her to work on her side business that includes jewelry making. Thus all of her office is devoted to her business.
My office will be where I write, but will also house my collection of historical antiques. I write about this topic a lot, and even do a fair amount of buying and selling — thus it is also part of my business. Our business and our business hobbies each get contained in our respective offices. The alternative was a shared writing space and a shared business hobby room. The latter option seemed not to be ideal.
On the tech front this has presented a few challenges. If we had a shared writing room then our computers would be in the same room with the same printer, broadband hook up, etc. The solution we’ve devised as home-based workers is to have my office house the fax machine, while my wife’s office houses the printer and scanner. She requires the need to print and scan more than me, while I tend to need to fax more. We had considered housing the fax, printer and scanner in a closet, but since closet space is a premium in apartment buildings, we opted to split the devices.