Is home working right for your business?
For many the prospect of home working seems like a dream – so what’s the reality?
The lure of ditching the commute and the suit, coupled with flexible working hours and no interruptions, can be powerful. No wonder then that 4.2 million people in Britain are based at home. But it’s not all plain sailing.
Five reasons for working from home
You’re the boss. You can organise your time to suit your mood.
You save money. It’s not just the travel that drains the wallet, but the coffee, lunches and snacks soon add up. For instance, if you buy a £2.50 coffee every working day, you’ll spend around £625 a year (to work out how long it would take you to earn this other unnecessary costs, try Money Saving Expert’s Demotivator tool).
You work harder. Commuting time can be spent more productively and there are fewer distractions, whether of the routine water-cooler moments or the ‘cake in the breakroom’ kind. A recent report in the Harvard Business Review said that home working increases productivity. And a study at Stanford University concluded that it led to a 13% performance increase.
You get a better work/life balance. You can fit childcare and other commitments around your work.
Yes, you spend money setting up an office at home, but if you’re freelance, you can also offset that, and a portion of relevant household bills, against tax.
Five reasons not to work from home
Loneliness. You may hanker for quiet time, but after eight hours without speaking to another human being, life can seem a little too peaceful.
Self-discipline required. You need to be strict about getting down to work. Your boss will notice if your productivity falls and, if you’re freelance, not working means not being paid.
You won’t have colleagues to distract you, but you may find household chores and unfinished DIY jobs can suddenly become enticing.
Out of sight means out of mind. If you’re not there to network, you might miss out on opportunities.
The office is always open. The tendency is to check emails outside normal office hours, and to work over the weekends.
Teamwork from home
Theoretically, many more people could work from home, especially as high-speed broadband coverage increases.
There are some solitary jobs, such as writing and programming, that easily transfer to the home. And there are others where it’s impossible – according to the BBC, “retailers, manufacturers and City traders are among those where most people have to be at the workplace”.
But many are somewhere in between. If interaction is essential to your job, technology may have the answer, allowing people to work at different times and places and communicate face to face virtually across the globe.
Web-based email is open to us all, but many companies use a virtual private network (VPN), which is more secure but more expensive.
Then there’s the cloud. In a nutshell, cloud computing provides the means through which everything is delivered to you as a service wherever and whenever you need via the internet through web-based tools and applications, rather than a direct connection to a server. Be aware, though, that a stable internet connection is necessary for cloud computing to be viable.
A portable office
If you work away from home, why not create your own Pop-Up-Office to work on the move and across various devices? It allows you to connect to 4G when you’re out and about. Plus, you can connect up to 10 other devices to the internet, with access to email and all your usual business applications.
There are many factors to weigh up before you make the transition to home working. Whether it’ll suit you depends both on your personality, your domestic circumstances and your role. It may mean saying goodbye to after-work drinks and office bonhomie, but it may also free you up mentally. If all goes well, you may find the daily grind suddenly becomes a little less… grinding.