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When Your Home Is Also Your Office

The ever-growing rush hour commute in some cities are forcing more and more employees to consider spending those precious hours with their family. According to some studies, working at home could save you 10 years! That is what they estimate the average worker spends in their lifetime commuting to and from work! No wonder the home is looking better and better as a work environment.

But is it? The answer depends.

1. Are You the Type?
Starting a home office is the same as starting any business. You have to be sure you can make it work and run the business effectively. Even telecommuting presents challenges to people who are accustomed to a traditional office environment. Some have trouble with self-discipline while others find the isolation to be too difficult. Before you hang out your own shingle beside your front door, you have to ask yourself if you have what it takes to run a business surrounded by the various distractions of home and family. You also have to take a close look at yourself to see if you will actually be able to get the work done without someone to prod you. Are you the entrepreneur type?

2. Your Family
How open are they to respecting your new office space? Will you be able to find the quiet you need? Will your computer double as the game center in the evenings? If you have a family, you have to consider the effects a home office will have on them and on your normal family life.

3. Separation of Work and Home
This is a hard one for many, especially those workaholics out there. You have to consider how you are going to separate your time and your emotions from one part of the home (the office part) to another. It's easy to let them merge and lose touch with your time and work time. Be prepared. Set office hours, or at least firm deadlines to keep you on track. Then set aside time for family only. If you want to avoid the trap of constant work, mark certain days or evenings sacred and don't work on them except in extreme situations. Protect yourself. You are the only one who can.

The Good News

The good news is that there are many benefits to setting up a home office:

  • Independence
  • No commute
  • More time with family
  • Convenience
  • Low overhead and risk
  • Better quality of life

The other good news is that with so many workers seeking a home office refuge, it helps increase your home's value and resale potential. The key is creating a professional space within your home. You also will want to consider the comfort and function of the space before remodeling. A comfortable, ergonomic home office is a more productive one.

Get Zoned

Of course, before you do anything, call your local zoning office to make sure your area is zoned for home offices. Most jurisdictions require permits and licenses to run a business in a residential area. Be sure to follow the laws and regulations for your county before remodeling any space. (Note: Telecommuters are not subject to the same requirements as home-based businesses. If you are remodeling a home office for telecommuting purposes, you should have no problems doing so. Talk to your remodeler to make sure.)

Source: Based on information from the Small Business Administration.

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