For many people working at home offers an ideal solution to career/childcare issues.
Parents can ensure they are always there when the kids get back from school. But the dividing line between work and leisure is a fine one. And it gets crossed often.
It's easy, in a home environment to forget that a professional looking office or workspace that is designed to work in is important. It's especially so if clients are likely to come to your home for consultations or to collect products.
The home work space needs to be protected from daily life overspill. Make sure yours looks like it is an official designated work space. While you might find it comfortable to work perched on the end of your kitchen table your visitors mightn't take kindly to finding they have been leaning their elbow in last night's bolognaise spillage.
There are ten key areas that cause issues:
6. Your Friends
Never try to combine a business meeting with a meet with a friend. Keep the two separate. It doesn't look good if your best pal is sitting with her feet up on your desk doing her nails while you're trying to talk with a client. Friends belong in the 'home' area of your house, not the workspace. Make time to see them outside of your work schedule.
7. Domestic Matters
Keep your ironing board, your laundry basket, your garden shears and your vacuum cleaner well out of the way of business visitors. If nothing else you don't want to give the impression that your head is full of anything but them and the reason for their visit. If it appears you are bogged down with domestic pressures you won't look like you've got the time to devote to them.
8. Your Personal Paperwork
Keep all personal paperwork out of the home office. Or if you must keep it there, keep it separate from business documents. Do your really want your clients to see that you have a chiropody appointment on Wednesday? It's distracting and too personal.
9. Loud Speaker Phone
Unless you have planned to have a call that includes you, your client and another party don't answer calls to your office on loud speaker. Chances are it will be your brother in a hysterical state – he's downloaded the photos of you dressed as Lady Gaga at his stag night. Everyone's entitled to a social life but this is not information you need to share with your customers.
10. Your Pyjamas
Just because you work from home try not to be tempted to go slobby. It's fine if you want to catch up with admin in your tracky bottoms and a t-shirt when you are sure no one is likely to visit. At all other times discipline yourself to dress appropriately for work. You might think it convenient to have your decorating clothes or even your bathing suit on while you work from home. And it is, but it won't put across the right impression to your visiting clients.
Footnote: Primarily we have looked at keeping the workspace appropriate for business visitors. But if you work from home and will be entertaining clients there you need to consider other areas too:
The front yard and approach - We are often judged on our physical appearance and the way we dress. We are also judged on the way our home looks. This is especially true if we use our home as our workplace.
The Front Yard/Driveway - Try to keep the front yard and driveway clear of obstacles if you are expecting visitors to the home office. Warn family that you don't want your customers to have to negotiate their way around a dismantled bicycle on arrival.
Hallway - Areas of your home that the visitor will need to use to access your home office should be kept free from family detritus. Designate a large basket with a lid for kicked off trainers and supply a coat rack so that those who are prone to discard jackets on the floor have somewhere to put them.
Restroom - If nature calls you need to have an appropriate rest room for your customers to use. Ideally this will be one that is near to your work space rather than the main family bathroom. Ensure there is always soap and towels and that the room is pleasant and clean.