How to work from home
Wondering how you can make money from home? Startups has rounded up hints and tips from experts on how to effectively work from home.
Homework was an unappealing concept at school. But now, working from home is an ever-growing alternative to the generic nine-to-five office routine. After all, why go to work when you can just as easily make money from home?
Working from home has many advantages, but it can be challenging too. Staying focussed can be difficult, and people who work from home can often feel isolated or lonely.
For lots of small business owners, home is where the office is. So how do these start-ups maximise their productivity?
We spoke to a number of entrepreneurs to understand how they make it work. Read on for their unique home-working hacks and insider advice on running a business from home.
In this article, we’ll cover:
Home-working hacks from the experts:
1. Optimise space, maximise productivity
Sara Teiger, self employed PR consultant and founder of Sara Teiger PR, advises that you “move your work space around every few days.”
Teiger alternates between her office, spare room and kitchen table, finding that a change in scenery gives her a “different perspective on work” helping to move on from any ‘blocks’.
Moving work zones is a really great way to optimise your available work space. And remember, the outside world still exists, so go and explore it from time to time. Cafés, libraries, and even your garden make great alternative work spots if you start to get cabin fever.
2. Get dressed
Sounds so simple, but just like changing scenery gives fresh perspective, getting your body ready for work gets you in the right mind-zone too.
This nugget of advice came from Nicki Kinton of Confident Cashflow. Kinton recommends getting dressed for work because it “creates a shift in your mentality. I find I'm far more productive than if I'm in my jeans/casuals. Tried to work in my PJs once, I got absolutely nothing done, wrong mindset.”
3. Stay connected
Ensure collaboration with colleagues and clients is as easy as possible.
Alex Tebbs works for VIA and recommends cloud tech to aid cross-location or remote working. He uses Skype for Business and other unified communication solutions, as well as cloud-based document platforms like Google Docs.
There are lots of apps out there that can stop you from feeling isolated when working away from the office. Apps are great because they can be used on the go, keeping you connected wherever you are.
Popular apps for business:
Slack – the WhatsApp of the business world. Slack is a team messaging service that’s quick, easy and fun to use, providing an efficient alternative to emails.
Trello – great for project management. Everyone gets complete visibility of the team’s tasks on a shared interface. It also smoothly integrates with Slack, so staying up to date without face-to-face meetings has never been easier.
4. Failing to plan is planning to fail
A good plan will keep you focussed, helping you to complete manageable goals. This sense of achievement is a key motivator. But planning can go beyond the day-to-day – don’t be scared to think big.
As Sophie Phillipson, co-founder of HelloGrads says:
“It's amazing, at times, how much more attractive housework seems to work. Don't underestimate the importance of a plan. Make a roadmap for yourself. What would you like to achieve this year? Break this goal down into projects and create daily to-do lists that move you closer to that goal.”
5. Consider coworking
It’s easy to feel cut off when working from home, and for most, this is the biggest drawback. International women’s activation coach Rachel Bradbury loves working from home, but admits that it can be lonesome at times.
Bradbury is a fan of coworking spaces, having recently discovered AndCo (a coworking platform that transforms restaurants and cafés into hot-desking spaces during the day). For Bradbury, “their venues give me a quiet, convenient place to work, but also the opportunity to meet other freelancers and explore the city.”
For more information on coworking, check-out this useful guide.
6. Enjoy the freedom
You’ve set yourself up for working in your home, now it’s time to fully revel in the perks. For Antonia Taylor, founder of Antonia Taylor PR, this means enjoying the home comforts:
“I light a candle on my desk when I start my day – it sounds silly but it feels like a privilege to be working with clients I love and can make a difference to, so I like to honour that.”
Making your home-working space comfortable and personal is really relaxing, and will ease you through those stressful days in the ‘office’.
Running a business from home:
We appreciate that there’s a big difference between working from home a few days a week, and actually running a business from your spare room.
We caught up with Michael Foote, who has been working from home for three years running Quote Goat, and has some really good advice if you’re looking to start up your own home-based business.
Why did you decide to run your business from home?
“The decision to run Quote Goat from home was initially down to cost-saving during our launch period. I saw first-hand in a previous business how important it is to look after every pound during the early stages of a company, and not having the overhead of office space is an easy way to achieve this – particularly during the first year of launching when limited budgets could be much better spent elsewhere.
What's the biggest challenge in working from home?
“The biggest challenge is working on your own, as there’s a lot to be said for being part of an office atmosphere. I’m fortunate now that I have a team to work with. When I launched the business I was on my own, and I made sure to socialise as much as possible around working hours. A lack of colleagues is a complaint that I hear most often from other home-working start-ups.
How big is your team and how do you all stay in touch?
“From the outset, one of my aims for Quote Goat has been to use outsourcing to staff the business. At present, our team of six consists of myself, a PR consultant, two content writers and two search engine specialists. I primarily stay in touch with everyone via phone and email, although we do have screen sharing meetings where necessary.
Do you have any good advice on how to start a new business from home?
“If you have an idea for a business and are currently employed, I would suggest doing as much of the initial work as possible whilst staying in your current job. Starting a business can take significantly longer than anticipated; having a reliable income stream reduces financial stress, and potentially allows for more capital to be invested if required.”
Quick, quirky tips you might not have thought of:
How to make working from home, work for you. By six proficient home-workers…
- Rose Minshall –
“Listen to white noise.”
Block out the sounds of your housemates and the outside world to really lock-in to your work.
- Chloë Hellier –
“Talk to the dog…”
Talking things through with someone else really helps to organise thoughts. Pets are great listeners – in fact, many prefer them to human colleagues.
- Adán Shennan –
“Stick to regular mealtimes.”
Don’t linger near the fridge for too long and always take that hour for lunch, letting yourself reset for a productive afternoon.
- Anastasiia Trynkina –
“Grab a fun, calorific drink from your favourite coffee shop.”
Think triple cream, salted caramel, spiced toffee apple sugar overload… Great if you need a quick-fix energy boost and want to talk to another human being, rather than the dog.
- Polly Jacobs –
“Hot-desk, at home.”
Finding strange places to work can release some new creative energy. Kitchen counters and bedroom floors are some less conventional spots.
- Shannon Sinclair –
“Have an intense pre-work workout.”
Get that excess energy out and release endorphins that will help you engage in deep thinking.
Five free apps that’ll keep you focussed:
Do your friends assume that working from home actually means “let’s chat online for three hours”? Or maybe you’re struggling to bring your swipe habit to a standstill? Perhaps it's time to set some boundaries.
There are some great apps available to shut-off social media, helping you to get on with the job now, and laugh at memes later.
|AppBlock||Android||Use this as a temporary blocker for distracting apps, and to schedule ‘user’ times that work for you.|
|Flipd||iOS and Android||Completely lock certain apps on your phone for a set period of time.||Moment||iOS||Track your phone/tablet usage and use the stats to curb your procrastinative habits.|
|SelfControl||MacOS||Block access to websites/mail servers and create a blacklist of sites, setting how much time to allow yourself on them.|
|Cold Turkey||Browser extension for MacOS/Windows||Free for basic package. Features a ‘writer’ mode to focus you on one task.|
Now you can look forward to setting up your own successful business from the comfort of your living room.
Don’t forget to have a natter with your pooch, go for a refreshing walk at lunch time, and find your favourite patch of floor if you’re sick of working at your desk. Good luck!