The desire to escape the rat race is escalating. For many of us home working is not only a matter of personal fulfilment but also necessity. For working mothers, people with disabilities and self-employed persons unable to afford rented premises, it can be a compelling option. Cutting commuting not only reduces expenses but may become an ecological imperative for reducing carbon emissions. With broadband and online working increasingly viable, the temptation to set up at home is huge. There are, however, many factors to take into account before you make the transition and a suitably designed and equipped workspace is an important one.
In theory, a spare room, outhouse, even a caravan or garage, can serve as a home office. Some people manage with a dining room, a corner of the living room or even the kitchen table. Whether your chosen workspace is adequate will inevitably depend on the specifics of your home business. It’s essential to ask yourself whether the space will really work – for you, your clients and, if applicable, your family.
- Is there privacy for your clients or will other people be party to potentially confidential business conversations and documents?
- Can you store confidential business records (computerised or paper) and your office or related equipment securely?
- If you expect work-related visitors, are you offering appropriately professional-looking premises?
- Will the space allow you to get on with your work relatively undisturbed by kids, pets and other intruders?
- In small spaces, can you endure confinement without suffering cabin fever?
- Will you be unfairly usurping spaces needed by your family?
- Small things that are easy to overlook include matters like having enough power points to run computers and other equipment.
- Will you have to lock up and make a trek every time you need to make tea or use the bathroom? You’ll be saving time on commuting but time management in all its facets remains an important skill for home workers.
- Do you have adequate storage space? Will you need more in the future?
- Are you ignoring ergonomics? Poor design, makeshift furnishings, poor lighting and insufficient ventilation are just some of the inadequate workplace features that can be health hazards.
- Have you checked local regulations on noise and parking? If your home business creates any noise, or attracts vehicles that block neighbours’ driveways, you might have a problem. For some home businesses, consultation with neighbours can be a wise preliminary move. If you anticipate future problems, try to get agreements in writing.
- Have you investigated whether your home workplace will affect your insurance arrangements? Do you need additional insurance?
Only you can factor in all the potential obstacles that your home business may encounter and it’s well worth spending time covering all bases before you begin working from home. Costly errors are easy to make and lack of foresight can turn your home working dream into a nightmare. Alternatively, good planning can give you your ideal job and working environment.