There are plenty of advantages to working at home, from increased flexibility to zero commute time. And more and more people, whether they work for themselves or work for a company, are pursuing some sort of work-from-home arrangement. According to a Gallup poll, over 43 percent of Americans who are employed work remotely at least some of the time. Follow these tips to set up a work-from-home arrangement that works for you and offers financial protection, too.
Make a plan for your work-from-home financial needs
- Consider a tax professional for help. Especially for self-employed individuals, a tax pro can help establish good record-keeping routines and explain any home-based business tax deductions, expenses and financial considerations.
- Establish an expense-tracking system. If you’re employed by a company, you may have certain expenses they’ve agreed to reimburse you for. If you’re self-employed, it helps to understand what expenses you’ll incur and how you’ll monitor them. You may want to consider a home office deduction worksheet, a mobile app and a dedicated business credit card, too.
- Block off paperwork time. Include a weekly appointment on your calendar that you dedicate to invoicing, contracts and other clerical work, including timesheets if you are not self-employed.
- Protect yourself. If you have a home-based business, you may need liability coverage as well as protection for any assets (computers, etc.) that you use.
Create an appropriate work-from-home area
- Create a dedicated workspace. It’s difficult to work and to share space, such as the dining room table, with others in your household. And your job may require you to have a closed-off space to take phone calls or concentrate. If you have space, consider a small room (with a door); if not, at least carve out a nook for a desk devoted solely to your job needs.
- Invest in necessary equipment and software. Requirements for your job — printer, scanner, security updates — may differ depending on what you do and whether you’re self-employed or employed by a company.
Monitor your work-from-home productivity
- Establish a schedule. The risk of working from home is that there’s no one that serves as a check-in. No receptionist monitors your comings and goings and no co-workers are around to share meeting times and camaraderie. To counteract that, establish regular working hours so that you maintain a clear delineation between work and non-work time and align those hours with your co-workers.
- Give yourself a break when you need it. Perhaps one day a week you choose to work at a coffee shop or library. It’s a great way to break up what can be a monotonous schedule at home. (Just be sure that the internet access meets security protocols.)
Take care of your well-being
- Follow regular mealtimes, just as you would if you worked in a typical office.
- Apps can help remind you to get up from your desk and move, even if it’s just a walk around the block.
- Get out and see people. If you telecommute, set up (or join) office meetings, if possible, every once in a while. Establish a cadence of lunch meetings with clients, co-workers or potential clients.