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An Introduction to Working from Home

You're your own boss, you're free from the shackles of corporate working life, but is it really the dream lifestyle we all imagine? BusinessesForSale.com takes a look at the pros and cons of working from home

It's an idea that has crossed everyone's mind at some point and seems to be entering the public consciousness more and more: leaving the rat race and working from home.

Home based business have become a huge part of the Australian business landscape with nearly 1 million people working from the comfort of their own homes. 

No more tiring and expensive commuting, less stress and more time with your family. But what is the reality of working from home - is it as fantastic as people imagine?

There are several things to think about before you decide against separate premises and work from home. Although it conjures images of a cosier, laidback existence the reality is that there are drawbacks to weigh up against the obvious benefits.

Benefits 

Working from home, you can fit work around your family instead of the other way round, which contributes to an altogether better quality of life. Operating your business from home also reduces your running costs dramatically - a massive plus for cash-strapped start-ups.

Stuart McKeown, co-founder of business growth platform Gleam, talks about the benefits and pitfalls in his blog, stating: "it’s not until you experience it that you begin to understand that it may or may not be for you".

"The first thing you’ll notice is how much freedom you have, even the simple things like not dreading going to work on a Monday morning or just catching up with someone for coffee when you feel like it."

He also believes working from home has vastly increased his productivity levels

"Working from home has vastly increased my productivity, I find myself able to focus on tasks and get them done much faster". 

"This also means that I need to do a lot more planning, so I don’t find myself without anything to do."

Pros 

• Flexibility - more time can be spent with your family,

• Greatly reduces running costs: fewer overheads ,

• No commuting - saves, time, money (and sanity),

• Technology means you can maintain constant communication with any employees you may have,

• You can make your office your own,

• You can wear whatever you like, 

• No office politics or external distractions which can result in increased productivity.

Cons (and cabin fever)

Working from home offers flexibility but it also requires self-discipline and organisation. You'll need to be able to avoid procrastination, manage your time well and be able to adapt.

And as Stuart puts it "it isn't all roses and buttercups... almost every upside has a downside".

Is your home actually a suitable place to conduct your professional life and to run a start-up business? Will you be able to keep your working life and personal life apart while they're coexisting within the same four walls?

"Having a clear separation of your personal and work life means that when you finally get home you really appreciate it, whereas working and living in the same place, day and could induce cabin fever."

"It can also lead to becoming overworked. With the blurred lines between working and not working - you don't have the cutoff point of leaving and office". 

It's worth considering how your family will react. It is one thing to be disciplined yourself but you will also need the support of those around you - with the dog and the kids vying for your attention, sometimes you have to set ground rules.

Crucially, isolation is a big drawback of working from home . You will probably be alone a lot of the time and won't have as many social networking opportunities as you have in an office, where you can share ideas face-to-face with colleagues and build up bonds around the water cooler. You can keep in constant contact with any people you employ by conventional phone calls, conference calls and through email, but certain nuances of face-to-face communication cannot be replicated (as Stuart puts it "you miss the office banter").

• Too much time in one place can lead to cabin fever,

• It's difficult to separate family life and work life, 

• Requires more discipline and focus (it's tempting to spend the day on Facebook, after all who's going to tell you not to)

• Disconnected, to an extent, from your employees, 

• Blurred boundaries between work time and non-work time,

• Perhaps an unsuitable place to meet clients,

It's also worth bearing in mind that there may be red tape to avoid. You may need to revise your insurance policy to cover business equipment in the home, for example. If you live in rented accommodation, you might need permission from your landlord or council before you are allowed to operate a business from home.



Melanie Luff

About the author

Mel wrote for all titles in the Dynamis stable including BusinessesForSale.com, FranchiseSales.com and PropertySales.com as well as other global industry publications.

@Be_TheBoss

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