If properly implemented, giving up the office can work like a dream, but you need to be disciplined, organised and have access to the right technical equipment.

Some of the benefits:

  • Low-cost way of launching a business
  • No nightmare journeys on commuter trains or gridlocks on motorways
  • Flexibility of working methods and hours
  • Increased productivity levels without typical office interruptions and “chat gaps”
  • Low operating costs
  • The ability to accommodate family demands
  • The chance to stroll in the garden for a 10-minute break
  • Having your own office helps show the tax authorities that you are ‘in business on your own account’.

Home working doesn’t suit everyone. For some people, the drawbacks outweigh the benefits:

  • Feeling isolated and bored
  • The chance of increased pressure and longer hours
  • Clashes between business and family demands
  • Not being able to switch off
  • Poorer rewards if the working from home holds back development of the business
  • Interruptions from family, neighbours and friends who do not respect work regime.

10 top tips from experienced home workers

  • Treat your working time as seriously as if you were working at an office
  • Make sure those you share your home with see it that way too
  • Aim for a definable, permanent workspace – not the kitchen table
  • The right furniture and equipment are essential investments - get a good chair, especially if you work long hours at a computer
  • Installing a separate telephone line lets you make a clear distinction between your work and home life - when you finish working, let business calls go to voicemail
  • VOIP telephony like Skype or Vonage can deliver considerable savings - calls between Skype users are free, and calling traditional landlines or mobiles from Skype is relatively cost-effective
  • Remember to get specific insurance cover for your business equipment
  • Make time to socialise, network and meet new people, particularly if you live alone
  • If you are freelancing, arrange the occasional meeting with those you work with - personal contact is so much more memorable than email or phone conversations
  • Timetable breaks - include sessions away from work to eat, exercise and socialise

Paying business rates on home offices

There are new rules in place since 2003, which means that you don’t normally have to pay business rates on a home office provided that:

  • You only use the kind of equipment you might find in any domestic study
  • You have not made structural alterations
  • You don’t employ people from the premises
  • You don’t have frequent business visitors on site.

Each case will be considered on its merits, and the Valuation Office Agency, which is responsible for assessing the ratings, will consider the extent and frequency of business use in each individual case.

Further advice from Freelancing Matters Magazine:

Useful resources

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