It’s something that most people dream about at some time in their lives – quitting that 9-5 job and setting up on their own so there’ll be no more getting involved in office politics or deciding whose turn it is to make the tea. Plus, if you can also be based at home, it will mean no more commuting or even having to iron a shirt to wear for work each day.
Thus far, seems perfect: but it’s not as simple as that. There are a number of benefits to being able to work from home but these need to be weighed up against the disadvantages too.
The first benefit we’ve already covered – the sheer effort of getting up and to the office each day is no longer an issue because within a few steps from the breakfast table you can be at your desk and ready to work. What’s more the work you do when you get there is far more likely to be productive than work done in an office environment, according to Harvard Business Review’s research.
Then there’s the question of costs. With office space in London, costing as much as £52.50 per square foot per month obviously using a home office is going to represent a huge saving in overheads. It’s also relatively cheap to equip it with a desk and a chair as well as using domestic broadband and phonelines instead of paying the higher prices charged for commercial contracts. Obviously, a number of essential overheads remain no matter where a company is situated, and therefore you need the right business insurance. Depending on the kind of organisation you are, you may also need to inform your local council and become eligible for business rates in addition to the council tax you already play.
For many, especially those with school-age children or younger, it’s the flexibility of having a home-based business that is especially useful. This can even go a long way towards saving on childcare costs – it also avoids having to arrange time off with the boss if you need to stay at home and look after an ill child.
What about the drawbacks? For most people the two main ones are generally a blurring between work and home life and, ironically, isolation from the office environment.
In the case of the first, it can be very hard to set strict hours that you’re going to work and the temptation can be to spend time in the evenings and weekends tying up the loose ends that you didn’t have a chance to sort out in the day. Equally, it’s easy to let domestic tasks like laundry and cleaning distract you from working.
Secondly, if you’re used to always having co-workers around you it can be a lonely experience to suddenly find you’ve only yourself for company.
Obviously, it’s also only suited to certain types of businesses appropriate for remote working, as opposed to ones where many clients visit or which need to store large amounts of stock. Ultimately, it really comes down to personal preference and the kind of person you are as to whether running a business from home is best for you.