Self-employment is at an all-time high. There are estimated to be over 4 million self-employed people currently working in the UK, and figures are growing each year.
For many of these businesses, the home office is a key part of life as your own boss, enabling owners to avoid rent costs, business rates, and the daily commute to a place of work.
While this makes financial sense, there remains a somewhat negative perception of people working from home. Comments about ‘working in pyjamas’ are not uncommon and not having an office can lead some to unfairly judge the business as ‘just a hobby’.
So, how do you take positive steps to portray a professional image and be taken seriously when working from home?
When you first decide to become a business, one of the main decisions to make is what type of company you are going to become. Many times, people will choose to become a sole trader where effectively, you become the business. But to improve your professional image, it is worth considering using a company formations expert, such as Your Company Formations, to set yourself up as a limited company instead.
Having that official company identity set up in a legal and correct way according to British law adds instant credibility to your new business endeavour.
Most of the time, you will set up a dedicated bank account for your new business and it is also advisable to set up a business account with the business name on it. Not only does that make it correct for HMRC, it also portrays a better image when you exchange bank information with another company or customer. You will be taken more seriously as a business owner.
You should also check that your home insurance properly covers you to work from home. Most policies will be okay if you only do ‘clerical work’ at home and don’t meet any customers or have business meetings in the property. If you do more than this, you might need to look at more specialist insurance to ensure you are covered should any visitor has an accident or sustains an injury while on your premises.
If you rent the property you live in, you might also want to check with your landlord if there are any regulations around what you can and can’t-do with regards to running a business from home.
The home office
When you first set up your business, it is tempting to lounge across your bed to work on your laptop in your favourite lounge-wear (pyjamas) and just enjoy this new and relaxing approach to your work. And while this is okay for a short time until the novelty wears off, it is important to establish a proper home office space and set up a regular working routine for a number of reasons.
It doesn’t matter if your home office is the spare bedroom, the dining room or the garden room. It should be recognisable as an office – a desk is the most common option though some people are moving towards less conventional workspaces.
Creating a home workspace, especially if it is imaginatively decorated, can be a great way to promote your business on social media. Most importantly, a good workspace will have a positive impact on your mindset.
This mindset is crucial. One of the hardest parts of working from home is defining the boundaries and changing how you see your surroundings. Having ‘office hours’ during which times you are available to answer client emails and chat is important and during those office hours, you should be mostly working at your desk.