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The Challenges of a Home Office

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

In recent years home offices have become more accepted by the business community. Whereas they used to carry the stigma of being second—rate, home offices are now the option selected by many entrepreneurs, consultants, sales representatives, and small business owners . This is due in part to technological advancements that now allow you to perform well and compete globally from within the confines of a home office.

For many, the home office is their primary headquarters. Others split their time between their home office and a centralized office, working 2-3 days per week from each location.
Home offices provide convenience without the added expense of renting or buying another facility. Plus, there can be tax benefits associated with operating out of a home office. `There are, however, some challenges that also come with a home office.

1. Your work tends to spread out. 
Every user of a home office knows the danger of an "office explosion"leaving shrapnel throughout the house. If you’re not careful, you’ll soon discover your important documents in the bedroom, your paper cutter in the kitchen, and your stapler in the bathroom. Eventually, your basement and hallways may become overrun by old computers, printers, and other devices that have outlived their usefulness.

To prevent this, home office users must vigorously protect their space. Spend five minutes at the end of everyday to make sure what belongs in the office is returned to the office. Then dispose of anything that is broken or obsolete.

2.  Interruptions from family members
 Imagine yourself on the verge of the one idea that will shoot your business to the top .... just as your daughter enters to find her Barbie doll. Your train of thought is broken and you lose the idea. Granted, most interruptions like this are minor inconveniences and actually create opportunities to bond with your family. But they do add up and can cause lost productivity.

The owner of a home office must learn to regulate these interruptions if the home office is going to work. Consider locking the door while you work or making the office “off limits" for other family members

3.  Hosting important meetings

Whenever your work requires that you meet with clients, you must determine where the meeting will take place. Your home office might suffice if it is well designed and accessible. But if your home office is tucked away in the corner of the basement and is cluttered with boxes and stacks of paper, you’d best make other arrangements.

If your home office is used in conjunction with a centralized office—or if your business is a franchise or affiliate of a larger business with its own building—asolution is likely already available to you. On the other hand, if your home office is your only office, perhaps you could offer to meet in the client’s office, at a local coffee shop, or in the boardroom of a nearby business.

4. Distractions in the home
 Many home office users fight against the distractions presented by home surroundings. The television, favorite hobbies, and household chores can easily begin to consume your time and attention.

Highly disciplined workers may not face this problem, but those with less discipline must learn to manage these distractions. Set boundaries for yourself that prevent endless hours wasted on these time consumers. When you take a break (as you should do periodically), set a timer to alert you when you should return to work.
5. Not feeling like you are really at work. 
WIthout the rituals associated with actually “going to the office," many home office users find it difficult to get in the work mindset. As a result, they may suffer from a lack of readiness not begin to work until mid—morning.
Even though you are working out of your home, you can create your own rituals. For example, do not go to work in your pajamas. Get up, take a shower, and get dressed as if you were going to an off—site office. Some even exit the house and re-enter through another door. For them, this serves as a mental signal that they are on the clock.

6. Lack of social interaction
 People restricted to a home office may begin to go a little "stir crazy." This restlessness is caused by a feeling of being trapped in the home with no social outlets or changes of scenery.

To combat this, set up lunch appointments with clients, friends, or other small office/home office (SOHO) users. After an hour away from the home, you will be refreshed and ready to return to work. Alternatively, pack up your laptop or tablet and head to the park, the library, or even the food court at the mall. The variety can spark your create juices and enable you to be more productive. You could also join a local small business organization in the community and take advantage of networking opportunities.

7. Expectations from family
 The fact that you are working out of your home can lead to unintentional expectations and conflicts Since you are home, you might be expected to taxi your child to piano lessons or soccer practice. You might become the de facto chef, preparing supper before the rest of the family arrives home. If there are guests coming to visit that evening, it may be left to you to clean the house during the day.

Your family—yourself included—must recognize that you are not at home; you are at work. Sure, you can handle the occasional home-related interruption and you should share in the household duties. But you need to establish clear boundaries that prevent these expectations from overwhelming you. Otherwise, you’ll never get anything done.

With some forethought and precautions taken, a home office can be a great success Instead of succumbing to the challenges, you can overcome them and reap the benefits of establishing an office in your home.



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