Working from home was once seen as the role of amateurs, part-timers and those seeking an alternative lifestyle. With running a business from home you were always facing a credibility problem, especially with clients or potential clients from the big end of town.
But with changes in technology and a little smart planning, an increasing number of business people are enjoying the benefits of telecommuting and working from home.
There are some great benefits. You tend to be much more efficient, spending far less time in non-productive situations caused by travel and traffic.
There's also the opportunity of having more time with the family and in your own comfortable environment. It's also more flexible.
Then there's the dress code. You can wear what you want.
But there are down sides. The lack of social interaction with others. The isolation and discipline of working on your own. And all those other temptations to take you away from revenue generating, meaningful work.
What about if clients drop in to see you and you're still in your pajamas at 3 p.m., your work area is a mess and the kids are running amok.
The major problem though, is clearly separating work from downtime and home life. With your business literally only steps away from home, everyone faces the temptation of overworking and never leaving the office.
So if you're thinking of setting up your home office, here are 10 tips to make it work.
Physically separate your work area or office from the rest of the house. Avoid setting up in leisure rooms such as your bedroom, lounge room or kitchen. Many find a separate entrance helps.
Have discipline and treat going to your office as if you're going to work. Make the mental switch that you're working. Dress as though you are working.
Don't overwork. Try not to spend all your time in the office. Try to stick to set office hours and aim to achieve your work in a reasonable amount of time rather than dragging it out over a long period.
Have a comfortable work environment. Set yourself up with a good desk and most importantly chair. Don't skimp on poor and cheap furniture. It will cost you in the longer term as you become frustrated with the level of comfort. Buy the best your budget will allow. Allow for good lighting.
Have a separate work phone line and fax line. There's nothing more frustrating for clients when they're faxing through important details to find the line engaged. Mobile phones are highly recommended.
Set yourself up with email. This is an essential tool of the trade and great for communicating. Set up a separate line, but if you must compromise share the email line with your fax.
Avoid meeting important and unfamiliar clients at your home office. Meet on neutral ground such as a coffee shop or a professional location. Business clubs often provide meeting rooms for members free of charge.
Get out of the office regularly. Network at least twice a week with potential or current clients.
Plan enough storage for your business. It's uncanny how much paper you accumulate in the so-called "paperless" office. Always keep good financial records and put in place a simple and efficient filing system.
* Thomas Murrell, MBA, APS is an award winning broadcaster, professional speaker and media consultant. His company, 8M Media & Communications provides solutions to media and communication issues for Top 500 companies, Government agencies and leading Universities. He provides media training, media advice and keynote presentations on issues relating to marketing and media. He is the author of "China Media - The Ethics of Influence" ISBN 0-646-37451-6 and can be contacted at www.resources2000.com.au or firstname.lastname@example.org, or