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Entries Tagged as 'Home Office'

Things to Consider When Choosing Where to Locate an Office In Your Home

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The Telework Research Network estimates 20 to 30 million people in the United States work from home at least one day a week. That’s a lot of bedrooms and basements being transformed into home offices. If you’re one of the many self-employed or telecommuting workers searching for space in your home in which to set up an office, you need to analyze the space available to make sure it’s suitable for an office. While you may be able to commandeer a closet or take over one end of the dining room table and call it your home office, choosing a space that meets all your office needs can save you aggravation and even money.

If your home is your primary place of business, you may qualify for a home office deduction on your income tax return. This allows you to deduct a percentage of your utilities, homeowner’s insurance and other expenses as a business expense for tax purposes. The percentage you’re allowed to deduct is equal to the percentage of space in the home occupied by your office. The office must be a separate room or structure and must be used solely for the business. You should check with a tax professional to make sure you comply with all the rules for home office deductions. If you comply, the home office deduction can be an added benefit of having an office in your home.

Client Access

The location of your office may depend on whether or not you’ll be seeing clients in your home. “If you have clients that need to come to your office once in a while, you will want to make sure that you have a professional looking workspace and consider the rooms that they need to go through in order to get to your office,” says Diana Ennen, President, Virtual World Publishing and author of So You Want to Be a Work at Home Mom. “If you have small kids, making a client go through the play room might not be the best idea.” A room with a separate entrance would be ideal for seeing clients at home.

Ennen cautions against putting your office in a spare bedroom with a bed. “ On the off chance you've have someone come to your home for business that would be an uncomfortable situation,” she says. And having a bed in the room might interfere with productivity. “I think it would be calling you for naptime,” Ennen says.

(Blogger's Note: Here is where a Virtual office may be very useful. Virtual office programs will generally include a fixed numbers of hours you can use an office or conference room each month. It is a great alternative for the home based business person Find a Virtual office.)

Privacy

Even if clients never come to your home office, you need a quiet, private space to work. Michael Bechara, CPA, Managing Director of the Granite Consulting Group in New York, advises locating a home office some distance from the home phone and children’s playrooms. “It’s best to be on a separate floor of the home if possible,” Bechara says. “Even if you are in a separate room, if there are other people in the house on the same floor the voice will carry and there is the risk that someone will barge in to your office accidentally. A basement or attic office would be ideal.”
Bechara cautions against locating your office in an open area such as a balcony overlooking the main floor of the home. While these space may seem ideal since they’re separate from the main living quarters but allow you to keep an eye on everything that’s going on, they will likely end up being too noisy and full of distractions.
Bechara also vetoes locating a home office near children’s activities, due to the noise and distraction this can create. Yet some working parents like to have the office located where they can easily keep an eye on their children. For instance, Ennen has a television in her office so that on days when her kids are off school they can join her in her office.

Utilities

Where you locate your office may be dependent upon availability of a phone line, internet, fax line or even cable television, if you need these for your work. If these utilities aren’t already in place, such as in a basement, attic or garage conversion, you’ll need to add the cost of getting them to your office into the cost of setting up your work space.

Bechara recommends a separate phone line for your business. You don’t want to compete with your teenager for calls from clients, and you want to avoid having your children answer calls from customers.

You also need to make sure your proposed office space has enough outlets to accommodate all your office equipment. The State.gov website recommends bringing all your equipment into the room and plugging it in to make sure the power system can handle the load. If breakers trip you may need to contact an electrician to install new wiring and/or a separate breaker for your office.

Light

“You want a room with lots of light,” Ennen says. The Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics at Carnegie Mellon University surveyed 25 studies which showed that better lighting improved productivity in offices.
But it doesn’t take research scientists to know that a well-lit office is better than the alternative. As Bechara says, “Dark places aren’t very inspiring.”
Office light can be provides by windows, or fluorescent or incandescent lighting, but check to make sure lighting doesn’t cast shadows on the workspace, or create glare. Ennen warns against placing a computer next to a window, since glare from strong sunlight can make it impossible to work. Blinds and drapes can’t always block the glare.

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Flexible Workspace , Home Office , Office Space , Virtual Office Space

Virtual Office Demand Increasing

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Over the past year the office space industry, OfficeFinder included, has seen a significant increase in the number of businesses looking for  virtual office space. Estimates are anywhere from  30% to 50% more than during the same period last year. Much of it is believed to be related to the economy. In particular, both businesses looking to save money and unemployed professionals setting up their own low ovewrhead home based business. A virtual office allows a business the opportunity to cut costs while maintaining a profession business image at a prestigious business address. While no office space is actually rented, most programs do allow virtual office clients to rent office or conference rooms on an as needed basis for a discounted price. The price range for a virtual office is usually between $60 and $300 perr month depending on the services used and the market.

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Home Office , Office Rental , Office Space , Virtual Office Space

Great Home Office Layouts

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Great Home Office Layouts

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Home Office , Office Space

Getting to Big from your Home Office - Part 2

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In the first of this series we discussed the use of a virtual office to help a home office business look big. Virtual offices provide a professional point of contact through which your clients and business associates view your business.

In this article we will discuss a couple of other ideas that can help a small business look larger and help create a more professional presentation to outsiders. 

Get a Website

One of the greatest tools available to all business is that of having a website. In today’s environment it is very difficult to take any business seriously without a professional looking websites.  I know one of the first things I do when checking out a potential business associate or client is to go to their website.  If it looks good, has solid information about them, I am more confident that I am dealing with a substantive firm.  If it looks like it was put together using a template or is a one page wonder, I become skeptical and in many cases won’t go to the next step in developing a business relationship.

Small basic websites are cheap.  There is no excuse for not having a good one.  If you do not know where to go to get one developed, try elance.com to find a multitude of both local and offshore web developers. Even after finding a developer, you will still need to put some time into making sure the information you provide them about your company is accurate and complete, but it is worth the effort.

Your website should have at least 5 sections:

  • The home page with your unique selling proposition clearly stated with a call to action
  • An about us page to tell your story
  • A contact us page to tell visitors to contact you with a contact form
  • A product and services page describing your specific products and services and
  • A site map page so that your visitors can see your whole site in one place.

Of course, you can do more, but if you have at least these 5 sections and a professional design, your image will be that of a serious player in your marketplace.

A Big Phone System for a Small Business

Another great tool that small businesses can use is the use of a virtual phone system.  For under $20.00 per month you can turn your phone system into one that sounds and acts like a large office. These systems include:

A Local Telephone number in the city and country of your choice (subject to availability)
Auto Attendant

2 extensions (addition extension available at $9.99 / month)
Day-n-Night Greetings
Dial by Name Directory
Follow Me
Your own On-Hold Message
Call Routing
Call Screening
Live Call Transfer
Voice Mail
Voice messages delivered to your email
Fax Receiving
Fax messages delivered to your email
Send “Talking E-mails”

To find out more, check out the American Voice Mail site.

Just because you are a home based business doesn’t mean you are not serious about your business.  These tips help to show outsiders that that is the case.

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General , Home Office

Getting to Big from your Home Office - Part 1

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You have your own small business and you are home based. Are you concerned about your image? Do you tell your clients that you work from home? The typical answers are yes and no, respectively. If that sounds like you, what can you do to enhance your image while still being able to enjoy the ability to run your business from home?

Probably one of the easiest and least costly is to sign up for a virtual office. A virtual office is just what it sounds like, virtual.  You won’t really have a permanent office, but you can use the prestigious address of the provider as your own. You will also be able to have access, on an as needed basis, to conference rooms or even a day office on a pay as you go basis. Not only that, but you can also use their  administrative staff to do work for you and only have to pay for the time you use and not have to file any tax forms or provide any other employment related paperwork.

Virtual Offices offer an A La Carte Menu of services. You can get their staff to do your work, have them answer and forward your phone calls and they can collect and even forward your mail. The typical provider has all of the office equipment you could ever need and you can use it, once again, on an as need basis which will allow you to avoid big capital outlay to purchase yourself.

If you have a home based business and want to look big, a virtual office is your answer.

For more information on Home Officing, read The Home Office from Hell Cure.

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Executive Suites , General , Home Office , Office Space