Guidance on Working from Home

Having a home based business has many advantages -  there's no soul sucking commute to and from work, waking up hours are flexible and it allows us to work when we are at our most productive or creative.  Also, it is tax deductible.  It can, however, also present a unique set of challenges.  Given the proximity of distractions including our beds, fridge and tv, even our primary work tool i.e. our computers, it requires a great deal of discipline and focus to actually get any work done. Below are three articles that provide some guidance on how to successfully maintain a home office:

 

How to Set Up a Home Office

This article from Inc.com goes through the steps of starting a home office and looks at:

  • Designing the home office.  It is recommended that, when possible, the home office should be a separate room, or at least a designated space.  (The couch and coffee table are probably not ideal workspaces.)
  • Getting the right tools and services for your home office.  It is important to consider their ergonomic soundness.  Another recommendation is that IT services should be sourced locally, since it is easier to get immediate attention, when facing an urgent technology breakdown (fatal errors can be very scary.  Make regular backups.)
  • Having a backup plan, of places to work from, in case things at home go to "hell in a handbag"

Creating a work life balance

Creating a work life balance is one of the more challenging aspects of running a home office.  This article discusses the importance of establishing unconscious cues that make it seem like you are at work (getting your brain out of relax mode):

  • Getting dressed (no matter how comfortable those pajamas seem)
  • Creating a work space
  • Setting office hours and avoid doing chores
  • Going outside to smell the roses (and other assorted refreshing activities)

 Business-Use-Of-Home Expenses

One of the major advantages of working from home is that you can write off a portion of the expenses that relate to your home office including rent or mortgage interest, utilities etc.   This guide from Canadian Finance provides details on what expenses can be written off and how to calculate them.  It is important to keep and organize all bills and receipts, thereby making the accounting and potential future verification easier.

By maintaining a dedicated space,  gettting the right tools and services and by establishing certain rules and boundaries, having a home office can be a very satisfying way to work.   And since we are our own boss it is ok to occasionally break the rules, and stay in our pajamas.

About the author: Ronika Khanna is a montreal accountant who helps small businesses achieve their financial goals.  Please sign up to receive articles pertaining to small business, accounting, tax and other occasional non business topics of interest.  You can also follow her on Facebook or Twitter.