More and more people are working from home in the UK. Some of these are working remotely for larger companies but many are freelancers or those running a small company from their own home.
It is difficult to get an accurate assessment of just how many now work from home but you can begin to get an idea of what the figure may be if you consider the latest annual report provided by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. This reveals that there are more small businesses in the UK than ever before and their growth has continued through the two recessions since 2000. An astounding 99% of all businesses in the UK can now be classified as small and of the 4.8 million businesses estimated to be operating in the UK there are 3.5 million businesses that do not actually employ anyone at all and a further million that employ only a handful of people. It would be a fair guess to say that many of these businesses will be home-based.
If you are looking to start working from home, or are already doing so, here are some tips and resources that can help you make it work for you.
Working from a small office that may also serve as a guest bedroom or a spill-over play room for your children means you need to be organised. Keeping things to hand but stored out of sight is never more important so make the most of files, plastic wallets and folders to keep things accessible. Rebel Office Supplies recently reviewed such crucial organisational resources and suggested that we also keep up with the latest organisational aids such as free and paid for task management apps like 2Do or Producteev that help us carry, amend and be reminded of project deadlines whether at our phones, computers or online.
Perhaps rather than filing papers it is better to aim to be paperless. Always try and scan and store paperwork so that it is held digitally and be ruthless in consigning unwanted paper to the shredder or recycle bin.
Many administrative tasks can be now handled digitally with the added benefit of electronic reminders acting as your own hyper-efficient PA. Invoicing itself need no longer be paper-based and services such as FreeAgent can sync with your business account and automatically reconcile things so your book keeping is actually done for you. Auto-reminders can be set when invoices are due and expenses can be added by a mobile app. With all your finances together in one neat dashboard you will be spending less time on printing, filing, sending and reconciling pieces of paper and more time on growing your business.
Keeping in contact
VoIP (or Voice over Internet Protocol) services can greatly help you to keep in contact with colleagues, customers and suppliers whilst lowering your business costs. Services like Skype allow you to teleconference with people all over the globe for free. This can suddenly makes your small home office seem a much bigger space that is instantly connected to – rather than isolated from – the rest of the working world.
Getting a second phone line for your business with a VoIP provider can transform you into a professional operation with minimal set-up costs and many benefits. The business accounts offered by services like Vonage are simple to set up – you just connect a phone to your broadband supply using their adapter – but offer you the following benefits:
- They offer low phone costs and access to free calls to selected countries.
- They can reduce the likelihood of phone bill surprises by allowing you to control and predict your spend.
- They allow you to choose your office phone number and even choose numbers with dialling codes for regions or countries in which you are not based.
- They enable you to take your office number with you – and use it – wherever and whenever you travel.
- You can take advantage of premium features such as voicemail messages received as text emails, call forwarding, caller identification and call barring without any of the usual premiums.
Making it work
There are more and more ways to make working from home work for you and there is no need to be a gadget geek or a technology technician to understand or use them. Isn’t it time you kissed goodbye to the commute?