A home-based business offers flexibility and convenience which is why more and more people prefer this setup. In fact, nearly one million people in Australia run a business from home (whether a fraction or all of the business operations happen at home). This makes home-based businesses a large part of the Australian business community.
Aside from flexibility and convenience, having a home-based business also allows people to save time (travel) and money (especially rent). This could result to increased productivity and more resources and opportunities for growth and expansion of the business.
However, with all the convenience and benefits home-based businesses have to offer, there are still challenges. After all, it’s still about running the business and keeping your productivity levels high and consistent. Also, how can you balance your work and family life? How do you make your workspace inspiring and personalised? Your work environment has a bigger impact than you realise. Take note that you’ll be spending almost all your time at home. This has its own unique challenges that you need to address early on especially as your business stabilises or grows.
Achieving a work-life balance
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges in having a home office and a home-based business is attaining a work-life balance. First, there’s no separation of environment between your work and personal life. Second, you’ll feel restless because the whole day seems to be dedicated to work. There will be emails and phone calls to answer all day.
Even if there’s a dedicated workspace, it’s really tempting to go to the home office every now and then. Often it’s just a few steps away from the kitchen or bedroom. Entrepreneurs are just passionate about getting things done and staying ahead of the competition. Although the business will experience growth, the business owner will experience burnout sooner or later. More importantly, the business owner’s personal or family life will suffer. There will be no “quality time” which is vital to our overall wellbeing and happiness.
How can a business owner with a home office achieve a work-life balance? Is it really possible?
The short answer is yes. It’s possible through proper planning and implementing advice from fellow business owners. This starts way before you have new office furniture and office equipment and technologies (e.g. phone, fax, internet).
The initial goal is to have a safe and comfortable work environment. Comfort and safety often have the biggest impacts on whether we can focus or not. From the chairs we use up to the ventilation, it’s important that we consider these things so we can stay productive whenever we work. Keep in mind that home offices make us spend 8 or more hours a day in a sitting position and in a relatively confined environment.
To create a safe and comfortable work environment, it’s always ideal to plan ahead. What will be your daily tasks in the home office? Will you be mostly working at day or night? Do you need traditional office shelves and/or custom furniture so you can maximise the space available and match your home interior?
Notice that it’s almost the same with setting up a business premise or renting a commercial space. You have to think about dozens of details. You’ll feel a mental itch if something’s out of place (e.g. desk should be moved 5 centimetres to the right).
Does this have anything to do with achieving work-life balance? At first it seems there’s no relationship at all. But the truth is the proper setup of your work environment may have a huge impact to your personal and work goals. For example, a messy and inconsistent workspace will also make your mind messy and inconsistent. This will affect your focus and productivity. That’s why many business owners and professionals invest extra time, money and effort in ensuring they have the perfect workspace. It’s hard to achieve work-life balance if you can’t get anything done at all due to a messy or inappropriate workspace.
Work like you’re in a traditional office
Why is the work time usually 9 to 5 anyway? Why 8 hours and is it all just arbitrary?
Actually it’s an outdated legacy we inherited from the Industrial Age. It’s especially the case with knowledge workers wherein the hours are not equal. There are just those hours when creativity or productivity is at its peak. We don’t need full 8 hours to create something. Most of it will be put into trivial tasks and distractions.
But 8 hours of work (9 to 5 weekdays) still persists because it gives a structure and predictability. Everybody will be on the same place and page. As humans we also crave for predictability. We want to wake up the next day and feel the assurance that it will almost stay the same.
It becomes different though for people setting up a home office. Most of them want to achieve total freedom from 9 to 5 (work anytime they want). However, this can have a drawback because they take away the structure a regular work schedule provides. Fewer things can get done this way because everything’s unpredictable. In addition, this can also lead to burnout because there are no clear boundaries between work time and personal time.
So how can you set a clear boundary and stay productive? The answer is to work like you’re in a traditional office. Set and follow a schedule as much as possible so you can establish a routine. You might need to adopt a different schedule depending on your circumstances (e.g. taking care of a baby). You can even set shorter hours (e.g. 9am to 3pm work) so you could get more rest. The important thing here is to establish a routine so there’s a boundary.
As mentioned earlier, there are those hours when productivity or creativity is at its peak. To optimise those hours, it’s recommended to make your workspace inspiring. It should encourage productivity whenever you enter your dedicated workspace.
For creative types, they often incorporate bright colours (from desks, tables, chair, shelves and walls). For technical work such as software engineering and mechanical design, people might prefer a minimalist and neat appearance (e.g. white wooden shelves, cabinets hide the papers and documents). This might make them think more orderly while at work.
If it’s a traditional business (e.g. retail, shop or even a restaurant) managed from home, the home office might resemble the one in the physical facility. Or, it could be a home office with a large wooden desk where a phone and laptop are placed. There could also be other fitted office furniture and wood shelves that display the wood graining. This makes the home office look more traditional.
Setting up a home office is about function & aesthetics
Make your workspace inspiring and very functional. The overall objective is to allow you to do your best work while remaining productive. It’s a dedicated place to literally get into business. But it’s also a place where you’ll spend large amounts of your time.
Aside from networking (e.g. joining a business association or attending a business-related event) and consistent marketing to expose yourself to opportunities, spending extra time on designing and setting up your home office is also worthwhile for your focus, growth and productivity. It can be one of those investments that will yield the highest ROI because of increased productivity and satisfaction.
There should be a smooth workflow (everything’s within reach or accessible). In addition, the workspace should inspire you to come to work every day. Convenience and flexibility will always be there because of your home office. But the design of your workspace should not be left to chance. Every detail should be deliberate because the whole place may or may not inspire you depending on those details.
In line with this, here at Signature Joinery & Design (SJD) our experienced craftsmen work with architects and interior designers to ensure every detail is right. Our residential and commercial joinery experts can create customised fitted office furniture, desks, wall panelling, feature ceiling and other crafts to make your dedicated workspace special and inspiring.
Here at SJD we understand the importance of having an inspiring home office. Aside from ensuring inspiration, we also strive to make each home office a place to do awesome work. This way, business owners will get more things done while still achieving work-life balance.
Call us today at 02 9625 0282 if you want to ensure quality and inspiration. Our craftsmen will ensure excellent designs and creations for your home office.