The landscape of business has changed. More of us are working from home and reaping the innumerable benefits: no more long and tiring commutes into work; and no more loud coworkers or office politics. Working from home has been proven to increase productivity and employee retention, while decreasing the number of sick days taken. But working from home can also have some serious drawbacks, one of the worst of which is the lack of having a structured workspace.
Home offices were once seen as a luxury, reserved for those who owned large homes and had more space than they knew what to do with it, but the changing shape of business has made the home office the economic and smart choice.
In this post, we’ll take a look at the benefits of the home office and why it’s well worth the investment.
Striking the Balance: Separating Business and Pleasure
What’s the biggest challenge of working from home? For many, it’s striking a balance between their home life and work life. Working in an office provides a clear separation. From 9-5, Monday through Friday, you work in designated office space, while evenings and weekends are spent at home — a designated chill-out space. But when you work from home, the boundaries can easily blur. One of two things will happen. You might allow work to slowly seep into your home life and, before you know it, you’ll find yourself working 80-hour weeks, unable to switch off. The house becomes your office and you can’t escape the mountain of tasks you need to do, so you keep on working until you burn out. Alternatively, you may be unable to motivate yourself: you’re at home, after all, and your home is your space to relax and unwind. You lounge around working in bed and on your sofa, but productivity takes a hit and profits drop. Both are troubling outcomes and unsustainable for any business. As humans, we need to achieve a healthy balance between home and work in order to thrive and develop.
A home office provides a tangible spatial separation between business and pleasure. It’s a physical distinction that keeps the two spheres of your life apart. Just as you would when you physically leave your house to go to work, when you enter the office, you’re in your workspace. Once you leave, your work is done. It may seem simple, but it’s exactly the kind of action our brain needs to signal when we should be getting hyped up to work and when we need to let it go.
Close the Door to Temptation: Motivation
Motivation can take a hit when you work from home. You might have pets that need walking, children who need feeding and household chores that need completing — with so many distractions, keeping focused can be a challenge. Achieving self-discipline is difficult at the best of times, but it can prove even harder for those of us working from home.
As we’ve touched on, the key to mastering productivity and motivation at home is in our space. Clearly delineated spaces for work are important to both physically and mentally shut out the noise. A closed door not only helps you stay motivated and focused, but it also signals to any family members or housemates who are eager for your time that your working time is sacred — just because you work from home, doesn’t mean that you can be constantly available to those around you. This doesn’t mean slamming doors and living like a hermit, but rather sealing off your working space to create a productive zone — one that will help you get into your work character.
Cut the Commute: Convenience
UK workers spend over a year of their lives commuting to work. Packed in on unreliable transport and stuck in traffic jams, the standard commute drains valuable time and energy, and it takes its toll. Not only does commuting to work cost us time, but it also costs us hard-earned money — commuting into London can drain your pocket of roughly £305 per month. More worryingly, it also has adverse effects on our psychological and physical health. Research from Sheffield university confirms that commuting has implications for our overall wellbeing and contributes to a variety of mental and physical illnesses.
Working from a home office is the most convenient alternative. We’ll let you do the maths, but imagine if the only commute you had to do each day was the few steps from your living room to your office — that amounts to some serious savings. This convenience is more beneficial to those of us who work with clients in different time zones — a common scenario in today’s globalised world of business. When half your day is lost to travel, adjusting your schedule to fit in with clients’ availability can be difficult. That 3am conference call ends up being a complex amalgamation of ubers and buses. When you work from home, you can be more flexible with your working hours. A 3am start may still be a struggle, but, now, all it takes is a quick trip downstairs from your bedroom to your office, and you don’t even have to get dressed to go out.
Getting Bang for Your Buck: Tax Deductions
Most people aren’t aware that one of the greatest benefits of investing in a home office is the opportunity to deduct expenses from your tax payments. To qualify, you need to have a clear separation between your office and household. This doesn’t mean building a whole new wing in your house; a simple conversion or renovation can go a long way to providing a clear barrier between the two. The guidelines are somewhat stringent, but you should be able to deduct a portion of utilities and maintenance, and even deprecate the part of the house used for your home office.
To ensure that you’re eligible for tax deductions, get your work done by a professional. Be sure to speak to a trusted tradesman in your area who specialises in conversions and renovations. Make sure that they understand all of your needs and requirements, such as a strong wifi connection, access points to easily plug in your laptop or PC and separate phone lines, etc. A beautifully-designed and built extension is only worth its salt if it is functional, practical and beneficial for your business.
Improve Your Home’s Value: Increase House Price
Renting a commercial office space can be expensive. Add bills and maintenance expenses into the mix and the cost skyrockets. Working from home removes the majority of these expenses and leaves you spending less on office space, technology and supplies, so that you can reinvest your profit into growing, rather than maintaining, your business. Not only that, but the existence of a home office tends to increase the value of your home, should the time come when you want to move on.
Today, with a record number of people working from home, the home office is fast becoming an essential. Just like a kitchen, bathroom and bedroom space, home buyers are looking for homes that have designated working spaces and they’re willing to pay for it.
Investing in a home office can yield great returns that extend beyond the profit of your business. But, remember, converting a den into a home office or building an extension is a job for the professionals. Always seek out local tradesmen who can guide you through the process and help you get the most out of your new space.
Author bio: Patrick Smith works with HaMuch, the tradespeople comparison website with a difference. HaMuch allows individuals to search for tradespeople in their local area and quickly and easily compare prices.