An increasing amount of people are now working from home. But, what do you need to get the best out of your working hours, and how do you create an environment that is the most productive?
Below, I have set out some of the things you will need to see the maximum impact and the best momentum when working from home. I highlight some online tools and services that will help you create an ideal business set up at home.
Some people will work from the kitchen table when working from home means doing it once or twice a week. Doing this isn’t great for productivity if you’re working full-time at home, and it becomes less productive with the current social distancing measures and all the family staying in. If you work from the kitchen table, it will be hard to make client calls and have meetings.
So, make your home business-ready by having your own space in a spare room or office. Ensure this room has a door on the entrance that you can close to keep things quiet. It’s also sensible to have an agreement with the rest of the family that when the door is closed, you can’t be disturbed.
This helps to separate your work life from your home life by creating boundaries.
Lots of people have their business tools in the cloud to allow them to complete work and access all parts of their business wherever they are. That means you need to have a reliable internet connection at home. If you can, choose a business broadband connection. It is a little more expensive than a general consumer broadband package, but the connection is usually more stable and reliable. This will be important for video calls and online meetings/conferences.
Your website is your online presence/sales page to show people who you are and why they should buy from you. For that, you will need a reliable web hosting company to host the site and keep it live on the internet for people to see. There is a range of hosting companies and services, including Siteground and Bluehost for WordPress websites, and Squarespace and Wix for easy “build your own” websites.
Gone are the days of using Outlook on your desktop computer in the office. Lots of services such as Microsoft 365 are the way to go: having Outlook email in the cloud and being able to access it on any device. Alternatively, G Suite from Google (the business set up for Gmail) can be used to manage everything on the go, and its spam protection program is one of the best in the world.
Knowing when you have a call with a prospect or client is vital. That’s where an online calendar comes in. Accessed anywhere and from any device, you’ll be prepared and know what is happening in your schedule. Two great calendars are Google’s calendar (through G Suite) and Outlook’s calendar you get through Microsoft 365.
As well as being able to access your calendar on any device, both of these integrate with meeting scheduling apps like Calendly and Schedule Once, making your life a whole lot easier.
The Use of Social Media
Having a website is like having your main house. Your own home. But with the help of social media, you can effectively extend your services to the public, to your clients, and to your future clients. More than half of the world’s population is now online, swiping, tapping on their social media apps. Moreover, converting your personal Instagram account into an Instagram business account is just as easy as one, two, three and you can see how your connection expands significantly in just a week or so.
You want to make the right first impression with a potential client. That means having a professional business proposal template that looks the part, has all of the information displayed in a visually-appealing way, and gives the right impression.
Choosing a template, a piece of software, or a whole platform to create business proposals from is a must. You want a potential client to put their trust in you, your business, and the products or services you are providing – creating a proposal that looks elegant and professional. Be ready to blow away the competition and grow your client base while working from home. But never forget to send follow-up emails. Be assertive enough.
Syncing with the Whole Team
Whether conducting a weekly team meeting, or delivering services over the video, or having one-to-one video calls with clients to go through a proposal, you’ll want the best tool for the job. If you use Microsoft 365, then Microsoft Teams can work well, and lots of government departments across Ireland and the UK use this setup.
Also, Zoom is a good alternative, although it does have some security issues if it hasn’t been set up correctly. And Skype is still a popular app, even though the connection quality on occasion can be less than ideal. You’ll be surprised to know how many joint operating systems are available online, that can surely help you run your business smoothly.
You will want to keep track of all your incomings and outgoings for the business. Using accounting software like QuickBooks or Xero can seem a little daunting at first. Still, lots of these types of software integrate well with different banks, payment platforms, and other pieces of software used in your business. It is worth speaking to your accountant for the best solution and one they are familiar with.
Many home business insurance policies will include professional indemnity insurance. This protects you from clients or customers should they make a claim against you for negligence.
If you are competing in the tendering process for government contracts, then you usually need a policy that covers you for at least €5 million. Some popular companies to buy this policy from in Ireland are the Aviva group and Allianz.
A Relaxing Environment
It is worth making your work environment a pleasure to work in. If you’ve chosen to have a dedicated office space at home, then having a comfy chair is a must. Sitting down for six to eight hours on a chair that isn’t designed for that length of time might cause you some discomfort in the long-term.
So, decide to purchase a high-quality one.
Also, plants, photo frames, and other items help breathe life into your workspace and can have a positive impact on your mental health.
Setting up your business at home can be done efficiently and doesn’t need to be complicated. A handful of tools will help you with some of the heavy liftings and make things easier. After all, working from home has other challenges that we all overcome in different ways.