Is a Home Office Right for You?

home office
Home office: Is it right for you?

Today’s economy can limit the ability of business owners to expand at a desirable rate. With many business owners against the ropes, one of the most efficient ways to save on costs is to operate out of one’s home office. There are a variety of pros and cons to working from a home office to consider prior to taking the plunge into moving from a storefront to a home office or vice versa.

The Benefits of a Home Office

Independence — When managing a small business from home, you don’t have to worry about the interruptions that come from an office environment. Customers can’t barge in on you, workers can’t demand your time, and you’re in charge of your area. Working in an office is an open invite to interruption. Working from home eliminates a lot of this traffic that an office would provide and allows for more peace and quiet for one to work uninterrupted.

Flexible Scheduling — In many instances, those that work from a brick-and-mortar store are expected to be there during specific hours each day. However, with family life comes daily interruption, and there may be times when a crying baby takes precedent over a work-in-progress. If life does not allow a person an eight-to-five work schedule, and the work is completed in the wee hours of the morning, so long as it is done by deadline, so be it.

Tax Write-offs — Although somewhat selfish, there are fiscal benefits to having a home office. There are a number of things a person can write off by having a home office. The square footage of their home office can be considered a write-off when looking at monthly utility bills. This includes water, sewer, gas and electric. Not only that, but Internet, cable and phone bills can also be deducted when running an office out of your own home. All of these things add up and save money over the course of each year.

The Cons of a Home Office

Distractions — Just because a person is at home does not guarantee they will not be interrupted. Often, you can have just as many distractions (if not more) at home as you can in any other location. In most cases those interrupting them are family, and it is much harder to tell a child that daddy is busy than it is to quickly deal with a customer or other distractions you would meet otherwise.

Relaxed atmospheres are less productive — The thought of getting up around noon after a good night’s sleep and working in one’s pajamas is very enticing. However; there are temptations created when working in such a relaxed atmosphere that would otherwise not be an issue. A “quick 15-minute break on the couch” can easily turn into an hour-long nap. A “quick trip” to get gas could turn into an afternoon of running errands. There is a great deal of discipline required to avoid these types of distractions and many people do not have said discipline to overcome these temptations.

Indeed there are both benefits to and detractors from keeping a home office. Before making the decision to have a home office, you need to be sure that you will be able to be productive in a home setting. If you can, then having a home office may prove to be both fiscally and socially beneficial to your current lifestyle and could help your small business become more profitable.

Photo credit: Home office by Sean MacEntee/flickr

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