Working from a home office sounds incredibly appealing the first time you hear about it. There are no stressful commutes, annoying officemates, pollution, and a boss that probes everything you do. You can work at your own time and at your own pace. Plus, you get to spend more time with your family.
However, remote employees or online business owners know that it’s not as easy as everyone thinks. It may have a lot of advantages, but it also comes with plenty of challenges. To help you overcome all these, here are five of the top tips you should know to manage and maintain your very own home office:
Comply With the IRS
If you’re a freelancer, self-employed, or business owner working from a home office, then you should be able to deduct the costs as a legitimate business expense. To claim your home office deduction, you have to make sure you comply with the IRS.
First off, you need to pick a space in your house that will serve as your designated workspace. This means you shouldn’t work from the kitchen table or the living room for the majority of your business activities. Furthermore, your home space must not contain inappropriate items that wouldn’t normally be found in an office.
You can also get deductions from areas you use for storing inventory. In 2015, the prescribed deduction rate is $5 per square foot of the area used as office space. This is capped to a maximum of 300 square feet and must be dedicated to business activities.
Manage Your Expenses
Remember that managing your own home office also means you’ll be solely responsible for any associated expenses – from supplies to utility bills. Receiving tax deductions is a good thing, but you should also take into account other expenses that can affect your income while operating at a home office.
A lot of individuals who work at a home office are still paying mortgage. For a home business, planning ahead can be tricky especially if you chose adjustable-rate loans that are based off of benchmarks. This is why you should go for fixed rate home loans that will allow you to determine the specific monthly amount you should pay through the length of your mortgage.
Childproof Your Home Office
Childproofing your home office shouldn’t be hard, but a lot of people tend to overlook its importance. Remember that children can be extremely disruptive to your productivity. There are also objects in your office that you wouldn’t want your kids to touch, such as electronic equipment or your filing cabinet. The first rule is to keep these items in high surfaces and cover them when not in use. In addition to protecting them from accidental spills and dirt, covering items like keyboards will discourage children from messing with them.
Wanting to be near your children all the time is perfectly understandable, but you also need to establish household rules that forbid them from your home office. At the very least, you should password-protect your office computer to protect your precious files. If you’re looking out for very young children, then you can set a playroom nearby but not within your designated workspace.
Organise Your Home Office
Organisation in a home office is extremely important, especially for remote employees who are expected to work independently. As a rule of thumb, you should always avoid bringing items that are inessential to your work to your home office space. This will greatly reduce the accumulation of clutter.
To further boost your productivity, you should also see to it that your home office is free from distractions. Keep in mind that the IRS requires a home office to be free of personal-use furniture such as a television or a couch. It may be present in some offices, but it can ruin the exclusivity of your office for professional use. Additionally, these things can be detrimental to your productivity.
Maintaining a home office can be tiresome and filled with challenges. Despite this, a lot of people still consider it as a privilege. You can control your time, set your own rules, and organise your own workspace as you see fit. You should consider yourself lucky, but only if you’re willing to put in the extra work in maintaining and managing your own space.