As home Internet speeds have increased exponentially over the last few years, so has the possibility for people to run their businesseswork from home rather than going into the office. Home working and e-commuting allows for more flexibility and for a new small business owner means no extra premises costs.
There is no surprise that increasingly people are looking to work from home offices and laptops to help them juggle busy family lives with a more on-demand businessworking culture. Working from home does require discipline however and with this in mind we’ve brought together our top five tips for the ‘pyjama worker’ out there.
Dress for success
It flies in the face of the title of this article but one of the best ways to remain productive when working from home is to dress as if you were going into work. It’s all too easy to romanticise sitting at a home laptop in a dressing gown while getting on with work but it is harder to be productive in clothes that you subconsciously link with relaxing.
By dressing in work attire and sitting at a defined work area within your home, you will feel on that subconscious level that you are at work and you will be more inclined to get on with your day. It also means that should you need to unexpectedly leave for a business meeting – or even worse a surprise client should suddenly you’re immediately ready for the situation.
Check your tax situation
If you are specifically employed to work at or from homerun your business from home, and have no alternative but to do so you may be able to get some tax relief on some of your household expenses. This could include as examples increased electricity or gas costs or the cost of business telephone calls. You can’t get relief on expenses you’d have to pay anyway like your mortgage or your council tax – and your expenses have to be for a definable business-only purposes such as telephone calls to clients rather than line rental or internet access.
From 6 April 2012, HMRC advise for payments of under £4 a week (or under £18 a month) you do not need to provide any records of household expenses you are claiming relief for. For payments above that you will need to show supporting evidence to back your claim. For further advice on what you can claim for and how, you can read the HMRC page online.
Protect yourself from hidden costs
It’s advisable to check if your contents insurance covers equipment you use to work from home – and if it doesn’t, protect yourself and your business by insuring what isn’t covered. It’s never nice to be in the situation of having been burgled but it would be infinitely worse if you couldn’t replace what was stolen and your business was affected because you hadn’t taken the time to check your insurance cover.
Hiscox offers specialist office contents insurance covers business equipment whether in a regular or home office environment along with portable equipment insurance for items like laptops, phones and ancillary equipment such as projectors away from the office.
When working from home it’s essential to remain in a professional mode – even when things go wrong. Being in a home environment it’s easy to become distracted by things going on around you and the temptation to do non-work related things because there is no one watching you is high.
A good idea is to create a new browser profile for working at home which is set up specifically for work. It’s possible in Firefox to create a profile that for example doesn’t have your passwords saved into it so you don’t jump into social media when you don’t need to, or which has specific bookmarks related to your work needs.
Schedule tasks and breaks as you would in the anoffice and have a plan in place for when things go wrong – for example an alternative place to work should your Internet stop working. Prioritise your jobs so you don’t feel overloaded and so you remain on top of what is required for each day.
Things to be aware of when you have business visitors in the home
Sometimes it’s unavoidable that you will have to have meetings at home with clients, customers or other members of public. Equally, it’s almost certain that you may have to visit people in other places of work in a business capability. In both scenarios there is a potential that you could have a claim laid against you for personal injury or damage to equipment.
If you are in a business that could put you in that situation, you should seriously consider having public liability insurance to protect you. Public liability insurance would also cover your legal fees that arise out of claims you have to defend.
Hiscox offers public liability cover specifically tailored to small businesses that can be bought as a standalone policy or together with other products such as employers’ liability insurance.
Hiscox insures more than 130,000 small businesses and has won ‘Best Small Business Insurer’ in the Start Your Business Awards for the last five years in a row. To speak to them about any of the products listed in this article – or about any for any other help with insurance for your small business, call 0845 512 0746.