Home-based business owners share their advice for more efficient, more effective flexible working.
Nearly a quarter of a million people in the UK now work from home, according to a study by the TUC. Attracted by the flexibility and motivated by autonomy, more and more workers are choosing to move away from the traditional office – with many setting up their own businesses to do so.
Here, homeworkers from across the UK share their tips for more productive, more efficient home working:
I run my business from home and have coached many others on doing the same effectively! Here are my top tips:
– Have clear boundaries. Separate work time from personal time. Create a separate work corner that you don’t go into otherwise, or, if that’s not possible, pack your workspace away once the working day is done (e.g. put away your laptop, notebook, pen).
– Have a starting ritual and a closing ritual. Do something at the start of every working day that marks the beginning so you know it’s work time now. Do some kind of ritual every evening too so you know when it’s time to switch off and start relaxing.
– Keep moving throughout the day. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t move. You should do some stretching or standing every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds to keep the circulation going in your body.
– Clear your workspace so it’s tidy. It helps you to focus and makes you less likely to multitask. It also gives a better impression when doing video calls with clients or business partners.
Spice Kitchen is an artisan producer of spices and teas and it was setup by us, Sanjay and Shashi Aggarwal, around my mums kitchen table in 2013.
Essential to running a home based business has been separating off a dedicated area for the business and for daily household life. We got creative about storage and converted the garage and a back room into warehousing and a special spice blending and packing area.
Doing this has meant we have kept our costs down and also as a retirement project we wanted to avoid getting a unit so that we could avoid the hassle of travelling there regularly. My mum is a night owl also so it’s great she has access to all the raw ingredients in the comfort of her own house.
When you work from home, it’s easy to get distracted. So it’s even more important that you take your work seriously, and structure your time.
I set a big goal for each week, then break it into a list of tasks for every day, ensuring that I’m realistic with time. I also always leave at least 30 minutes of time each day free as contingency, as you’ll always get an unexpected email that needs answering, or a knock at the door to deal with.
And finally, I make sure friends and family know when I’m working so they don’t drop by or call for a chat!
Working from home has a lot of benefits. But as a business owner, registering a business at your home address can cause issues – not least lack of security, reduced privacy and opening yourself up to junk mail!
My tip for entrepreneurs basing their business at home is to use a virtual office address with which to register your business with HMRC and where you can receive all of your mail. This can also help with the perception of your business; when you choose an address in London, for example, you can position yourself as a business in the capital city, with all the prestige that comes with it.
Working from home can provide huge flexibility and relief from the daily commute, but it doesn’t come naturally for everyone.
My tops tips to stay productive are to dedicate a separate work space if you can, to try and keep the lines between work and family life clear, and to get out of the house.
Working from home doesn’t mean you have to be sat at your desk all day, everyday, talking to no one. I personally attend networking meetings as I love meeting new people. They can also provide a great support network and a real source of knowledge.
Taking a break from the desk can enable you return refreshed, re-energised and more productive.
The best advice I was given was to treat it like a job: to have a desk and office hours and to even dress the part if possible.
When I first went freelance I got a bit giddy with all the freedom and wasn’t very productive because I was too busy organising lunch “meetings” and doing what I wanted!
Now I still have that freedom so that I can take days off if I want to, but on the whole I have set hours and I try to be strict with myself about sitting at my desk during that time.
My advice for working at home is this: Plan your day preferably the previous evening and stick with it.
Alternate between completing easy and challenging tasks, ie., one easy then one challenging. Avoid distractions and keep time spent on social media, unless it is work related, to a minimum. Take time out to think about your achievements and acknowledge them. This will make you feel good and keep you moving forward; you might do this while taking a 20-30 minute walk.
Try new approaches and learn new skills to add a bit of spice to your day, and be sure to interact with uplifting people when you feel your energy dropping.