Home based working has been increasing in popularity in recent years. Workers recognise the benefits of a more flexible approach to working, and employers are happy to make those allowances in favour of happier, more productive workforces.
At the same time, entrepreneurship is also on the rise. According to the FSB, in 2016, 76 per cent of all businesses in the UK were non-employing businesses – meaning they employed no one but the owner. Of an increase of 97,000 total businesses in the UK from 2015 to 2016, 85 per cent of those were one-man-bands – many of whom choose to work from home for reduced costs and added flexibility.
Here, homeworkers from across the UK share their tips for more productive, more efficient working outside of an office environment:
Sanjay Aggarwal, co-founder, Spice Kitchen
Spice Kitchen is an artisan producer of spices and teas and it was setup by us, Sanjay and Shashi Aggarwal, around my mums kitchen table in 2013.
Essential to running a home based business has been separating off a dedicated area for the business and for daily household life. We got creative about storage and converted the garage and a back room into warehousing and a special spice blending and packing area.
Doing this has meant we have kept our costs down and also as a retirement project we wanted to avoid getting a unit so that we could avoid the hassle of travelling there regularly. My mum is a night owl also so it’s great she has access to all the raw ingredients in the comfort of her own house.
Hana Dickinson, director, The Bridge Marketing
I run two businesses from my home – a marketing consultancy and a news website. I have a team of four who all live within 20 mins of my house. One prefers to work from my house the others work from their homes, just up the road. We hold meetings here or at a local café or restaurant. We’re very open about working from home and our clients are welcome to visit anytime.
I think the key is to have everything you need like printers, decent wifi, decent desk-space and a light airy area with enough space for everyone to be comfortable, in an area that is set aside for purely for work. Also to invest in systems that will keep you organised and allow you to collaborate and have access to a central drive from any location.
I have a three year old daughter, a dog and a husband who works away a lot. I need the flexibility to stay on top of all my responsibilities – work and family – and everyone on my team has the same level of freedom and flexibility. They all work their socks off and take their responsibilities seriously. It’s good to work with people who know that ultimately our clients need to be looked after well. It’s up to us to make sure we do that, in whatever way works best.
Sylvia Schwartz, manager, Company Address
Working from home has a lot of benefits. But as a business owner, registering a business at your home address can cause issues – not least lack of security, reduced privacy and opening yourself up to junk mail!
My tip for entrepreneurs basing their business at home is to use a virtual office address with which to register your business with HMRC and where you can receive all of your mail. This can also help with the perception of your business; when you choose an address in London, for example, you can position yourself as a business in the capital city, with all the prestige that comes with it.
Vicky Charles, founder, vickycharles.com
The best advice I was given was to treat it like a job: to have a desk and office hours and to even dress the part if possible.
When I first went freelance I got a bit giddy with all the freedom and wasn’t very productive because I was too busy organising lunch ‘meetings’ and doing what I wanted!
Now I still have that freedom so that I can take days off if I want to, but on the whole I have set hours and I try to be strict with myself about sitting at my desk during that time.
Alina Cincan, managing director, Inbox Translation
I would say that the key word for running a successful business from home is ‘separate’ – a separate office to keep distractions at bay and increase productivity, a separate phone (whether landline or mobile) to use solely for your business (this way for example, if a client calls, there is no chance your partner or child answers – it doesn’t look professional) and, of course, a separate credit/debit card. All these will certainly make running your home business a lot easier.