Pros and cons of a home office
While some people can work from home, others absolutely cannot.
Setting up your business so you work from home is both a matter of choice and circumstance, but it’s also important to know the time to move to another premises.
Mark Iriks, managing director of ‘easigroup’ says he personally would find it hard working from home.
“I need to be around other people. I need to be motivating people and I need to be motivated by people, so it’s not something that will ever happen for me in my lifetime,” he says.
“But for our working culture, I think it will become a bigger thing in the future.”
Dirk Richards, managing director of Fieldrich Metallurgical Consultancy, works with mining companies around the world.
With the advent of the cloud, communication and other technologies and the way his business operates, he says there is no reason for him to be at an office every day.
Richards operates both from home and from the premises of clients.
“The difficult part of working from home is you do miss out on incidental networking opportunities that you would get in a workplace, and sometimes it’s hard to bounce ideas off someone when you are not face-to-face,” he says.
“But the benefits are that I get a lot more work done because there are less distractions, I can choose my hours and I have more time with my children because I don’t get stuck in traffic driving to and from work.”
He says that working from home you can:
- spend less time travelling
- get more work done with less people to distract you
- be more flexible in the times you work including longer hours to get projects finished, or split hours if needed
- don’t need to dress up every day
- be more available to family
- claim a portion of your home as a tax deduction.
- save money on transport/travelling.
While there are undoubtedly many benefits, Richards says working from home can be difficult at times. Here are some things you need to consider:
- Good internet connection: “You literally can’t do anything without it,” he says. He also advises making sure you have a backup connection through your phone’s data plan. Good telecommunications and IT are vital if working from home.
- The size of your business: Will your home be impacted by other people coming to your home? What are the council requirements? Will your business be impacted by your ability to employ and house staff?
- Trust in your people: If your employees are working from their home you need to choose people you know will do so efficiently.
- Storage space: What will you need to keep on your premises and do you have room?
- Alternate modes of networking: As you will likely miss out on incidental conversations that could lead to more work opportunities, you need to have good social skills on the phone and use your content, marketing and social media avenues well.
- Avoiding distractions: Your home is full of them so your ability to self-motivate, stay focused and not procrastinate will be a key to a successful home office. Give clear boundaries to anyone else that may be at home about when they can and can’t interrupt you. If you’re children are home during the school holidays and after school, Richards recommends noise cancelling earphones and some music or sounds to helps you stay in the zone.
- Separate work from personal: Do you have a space in your home so you can “quarantine” your work so that it doesn’t seep into your family’s everyday life?
Iriks and Richards both agree that it’s important to keep an eye on how working from home affects your personal life. If it’s having a negative impact then you need to find another premises.
As you get bigger, interact with more staff and business colleagues and need to meet and greet or be available for staff, it’s not viable to base your business at home.
Often it can depend on your current circumstances and what stage of your life you are at as to how successful it will be.
“I’ve got a good friend who lives quite close to me,” Iriks says.
“She runs a marketing business, she rents the home, and she runs four to five staff from there and it works for her. She’s been doing it for years. She recently had a baby and says working from home is the best thing she’s ever done.”