Archive for the 'General Interest' Category

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Great Teams Created Here

When you’ve reached capacity in your daily workload, you know it’s time to start the recruitment process but as a solopreneur this is brand new territory. How can you make sure that the hires you make are going to work out and not leave you stuck with employees that fall far short of the mark?

Here we take a look at what you can do to create a team that ticks every box and helps take your business from a one-person effort to a fully-fledged empire.

Review your own job

What is it that you’re doing that you need to drop and have someone else pick up? What are you concentrating on that takes you away from your core goals? Whether that’s too many admin tasks, managing stock or keeping track of your accounts, the time you spend on them is taking you away from generating sales and leads through your marketing plan.

Once you’ve decided what you need to hand over, it’s time to create a job specification. You may find that one job role isn’t going to cut it and instead you need to hire in several people to make this really work. It’s a big decision, when previously you’ve only ever worked for yourself and can feel a little daunting. After all, being responsible for other staff was not something you’d factored in when you set up on your own.

However, a growing business is a healthy business so this need for extra staff is a good sign in the long run.

Image from Pixabay

Job specification

Not really much more than a list of tasks that you expect your hire to carry out but make them as specific as possible. Rather than just admin tasks, think what that person will be doing day-to-day. If chasing up and generating invoices is part of that, make it clear. The more specific you are, the more chance you have of finding someone who has those specific skills.

Then you’ll need to think about the kind of person you want in the role. How much experience and education do they need as a minimum to work for you? What soft skills should they bring to the table? You might be looking for someone who can communicate specifically with clients or someone who can organise your other team members, either way make this clear in your online advertisement.

The interviewing process

This can be just as daunting for the interviewer as the interviewee, but don’t let that put you off. You will find your candidates are a little nervous but that’s fine. Your role is not only to find out as much about them as possible but also to see how they perform under pressure.

As a rule of thumb, for every skill you’ve advertised tease out from your candidate an example of a  time when they’ve used that skill and what outcomes it produced. Everything else, including their ability to do the day to day tasks you specified, should be clear in their resume.

Whether you’re a Truck Accident Lawyer or a clothes designer, you need to have staff around you who you gel with. Listen to your instinct when interviewing people. If you find it hard to communicate and connect with one of your interviewees, try and figure out why. Great qualifications don’t necessarily mean they’re the right fit so keep an open mind during the interview process.

Finally, when you’ve made your decision bring your candidate back in to discuss and negotiate salary and any other benefits you might be offering.  Until that contract is signed, the ball is very much in your court so if you do have a change of heart it’s not too late.

Work a six-month probationary period into the contract giving both parties the option of walking away after the period with no hard feelings or complicated legal mechanisms.

Working for yourself means you take on the role of so many other jobs in your organisation as well as the job you originally planned on doing day-to-day.

It’s not easy to create a team but when you do find that winning formula of a hard-working team who you get along well with and who support your goals and objectives, you’ve struck gold.

Take your time in the recruitment process. Getting it wrong can mean a frustrating and fruitless six months spent trying to figure out why it’s not working and what you can do about it. Find your people and your business will go from walking to soaring.

Business Shortcuts to Make Life Easier

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As a business owner, you have many plates that you need to keep spinning. It’s incredibly difficult- you work long hours and put in all the effort you have to make things a success. Finding ways to take shortcuts without compromising on quality is essential for getting things done quickly and efficiently, and can also stop you from burning out from taking on too much. Here are some ideas for going about it.

Hire an accountant

In the beginning, you might have sorted your accounting yourself with the help of some software. When your company is smaller, it’s fairly simple to be able to keep track of things fill in forms for tax and provide the right information. However, the bigger you get the more complex it becomes. You have more expenses that you want to claim back, there are different rules for VAT, more employees to pay and much more. Hire a professional accounting firm like https://www.qdosaccounting.com/ to do the job for you, it’s something you need to get right since there are so many legal implications in getting your business finances wrong.

Utilise freelancers for blog content

In business there are so many different areas to keep running and get right, it’s easy to overlook seemingly smaller jobs like a business blog. However, when it comes to blogging for business there are so many benefits that you simply can’t afford to miss out on. Integrating a blog onto your website can improve search rankings and domain authority, not to mention makes you look more trustworthy as a brand. It’s another way to market and promote yourself, and can help you to stand out from your competitors. However, creating relevant, interesting and informative content can take time. One way to get around this is to hire a blogger or content writer to create it for you. They will be experienced and know what your audience is looking for, and how to add the best keywords so your content will rank as high as possible when people are searching for businesses like yours. You don’t have to hire another employee, or ask any your existing employees to take on the role. Take a shortcut and hire a freelancer, there are plenty of talented individuals on freelancing sites ready to get started

Have bespoke software created

Business software is no longer a shortcut, but absolutely essential if you want success. Old, manual methods are out- since all of your competitors will be using business software, you need to as well to be able to keep up. However, you can go one step further and actually have software custom designed for your business. It allows all departments to link together seamlessly, and while the initial costs will be expensive it can save you time and money overall. Good software enables you to completely automate some areas of your business saving you labour costs and making everything as efficient as possible. If you’ve been in business for a while and are noticing issues with the different softwares you use, approach a software engineer and have them create something custom for you.

Is Your Business Safe?

It’s National Ladder Safety Month which makes it a very appropriate time to talk about safety at work. Some companies are really aware of this and make health and safety a big priority. But to everybody does. And sometimes, that can just be down to a lack of knowledge. Yet keeping your business safe and secure is important if you want it to keep running. So let’s take a look at the key areas you need to cover off when working on health and safety.

1. Premises Security

The very first area that you’re going to want to cover off is the physical security of your office or business space. So, do you have locks n place? Are you keeping your equipment safe? It may even be the case that you need to get CCTV as a backup too.

2. Online Security

In this day and age, every business should be aware of online security. Hackers and fraudsters are everywhere and always looking for an opportunity to encroach on your business. So make sure that you have firewalls in place and maybe even an IT team to look after your interests too.

3. Physical Safety

And, of course, there’s then also the physical safety of people in your business too. Now, this could be down to manual handling and maneuvering with ladders, as covered off in the infographic below. But it’s to just that. You’ll want to have a health and safety policy in place even if you’re in an office with no obvious risks, just to keep your company and its staff protected.


Infographic Design By Ceiling Outfitters

Are There Advantages of Hiring Freelancers and Contractors over Full Time Employees?

More than ever today’s workforce is shifting away from the standard nine to five and becoming much more flexible. Through the use of the internet it has made many more businesses more easily become global, as they can work with people all around the world at the touch of a button. And as a result, it makes it easier than ever to save month through the people that you work with, as you don’t have to have as many full-time employees when you can hire contractors or freelancers to work there for you. Basically, if your business needs experts but it is lacking the resources required for a full-time employee, freelancers and contractors could be your way to go.

So with all of that in mind, here are some of the reasons why it makes great sense to use freelancers and contractors over full-time employees. Have you ever thought about this for your business before? It would be great to hear what you think.

Image from Pixabay, under creative commons license

Affordability

When you have an employee there can be a lot of associated costs, such as health insurance or a pension perhaps. Not to mention paid holiday and so on. A freelancer doesn’t need any of that kind of thing. If they are working from home they won’t have a lot of overhead costs, so their rate can be low in comparison, saving the business quite a bit of money.

Experts

When you have your own business you do play a lot of roles, and in some of them, you may not have much experience or expertise. But when you use a freelancer, whether that be a freelance accountant or roofing contractors for a client’s building project, it means that you get the people that know exactly how to do the thing you need, rather than you trying to muddle through and waste time. They know what to do and can be quite quick about doing it too, which is another selling point.

Flexibility

Because a freelancer or contractor doesn’t work the traditional hours that you might think, it means that they can work at all different times. If you need someone to be posting on your social media at certain times of the day or when something like the Superbowl is happening, out of traditional office hours, a freelancer can be the person that is able to do that. Plus, as they can work flexibly it means that they are more likely to meet deadlines as they can set their own hours and work through the night if need be, to get it done.

Innovation

As you are hiring experts in their field, they may come at a project or task from a completely different angle to you. They could offer new insight and innovation on how to get things done that you might not have thought about before. So it can be a great way to get new ideas; they want to impress you, and jaded employees can sometimes just do the bare minimum to get a job done.

What Is The Modern Way To MultiTask?

Image from Unsplash

During the working day, we battle with frequent interruptions, competing priorities, clashing deadlines and unexpected requests. Being able to deep dive and give all our undivided attention to one task is rare. So, despite a growing trend within business management towards monotasking, the reality is that most of us have to get good at juggling multiple things – and this is why a question about how you handle multi-tasking is pretty much a standard on most job interviews. However, there is definitely a difference between working effectively with a split focus and doing badly on multiple tasks. What is the best way to multi-task well? Could it be connected to that old truism about working harder, not smarter?

Plan Out Your Split Focus

Working on two or more things may be unavoidable, but you should at least plan out what those two things are going to be. Some tasks sit together easier than others – for example, you may be able to do some light admin like checking an expense report while on a conference call, but anything which requires more concentration is unlikely to go well. Take a moment to consider what tasks are on your to-do list and what will be compatible, then pair them up ahead of time instead of randomly working on different things.

Use Technology Effectively

Using technology can give a real boost to your efforts. Using a split screen app can help you to focus on two documents at the same time, or a document and a Web browser, for instance. Tools like Gmail CRM mean you don’t need to waste time hunting for contact details, can follow up on leads straight from your inbox and can project manage and collaborate with colleagues and reports easily without exiting the app. In addition, your smartphone can work a lot harder for you. Download SlideControl and you can switch apps, take shortcuts to your contacts and create custom one-swipe side bars with categories and launch them with a single gesture – or pair apps together to run simultaneously in a single split screen.

Keep On Top Of What Needs To Be Done

If you work in a busy environment with a lot going on, it’s all too easy for tasks to slip through the cracks. Avoid this happening by investing time in creating effective systems to process your work flow effectively. In these types of set ups, work tends to be mostly reactive and driven by the environment, rather than being internally driven. This means that whichever project or client shouts the loudest gets the most attention, and is not an effective long-term strategy. Combat this by working through a prioritisation matrix to ensure that each task occurs in the correct order – while still allowing time for a certain amount of unavoidable reactive work as well. Keep your to do list for each day well in sight to ensure that you don’t neglect things accidentally.

Use Quieter Periods To Process New Information

The main problem with continuous multitasking is that it can interfere with your ability to effectively process new information – and in a leadership position that is a real risk. The process of acquiring new information simply doesn’t sit will with multiple other tasks. You may often find that you get to the end of a meeting where you’ve been multi-tasking, only to find you can recall the name of that new client or what the solution decided on for a particular issue was! Deal with that by making sure you have quieter periods in the workday where you can take in new information without distraction. Read any new documents and do something to process the information – either summarising it in a memo or communicating it onto others works well to help you properly take in the information. This means you can use the rest of your working time to multitask without compromising your ability to solidify new incoming information.

Be Ruthless About Distractions

You may be trying to cover off multiple projects, but one thing you really don’t want to contend with is yet more distractions coming in. So become ruthless about getting rid of interruptions. This can be especially hard if you directly manage people, who will naturally want to come to you with queries about the things they’re working on. Set up a regular time where you have an open desk policy, even just an hour a day, and then make it clear that you won’t be able to be interrupted outside of that time. Likewise, try to batch process your emails rather than jumping to them everytime a new notification shows up on screen. Protect your time by rooting out unnecessary meetings as well – consider if you really need to be there or whether you could delegate and request a precis from whoever attends in your place- this can also be a great opportunity for others to stretch themselves and be exposed to higher level projects, so it can also be used to fulfill some staff development goals at the same time.

Get Your Outsourcing Right From The Start

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For many businesses around the world, outsourcing is a necessary and essential part of doing things right. In fact, the vast majority of businesses today will not be able to do very well without some kind of outsourcing or other, and this is something that is worth bearing in mind if you have a business of your own. There are many things that you might need to consider if you are going to outsource successfully, and it is absolutely something that you will need to think about as long and hard as you can in order to make sure that your outsourcing is going to be as successful as possible and provide for your business exactly what it needs. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the ways to make sure that you can get your outsourcing right from the very start.

What To Outsource

One of the first and hardest questions to be able to answer here is what you will actually want or need to outsource. You don’t want to just outsource randomly, neither do you want to overdo it, so it is vital to make sure that you have a clear understanding of why outsourcing is often necessary and therefore when you should use it appropriately. Generally, you will want to outsource anything which you don’t have the resources for, and which you probably never will, and anything which requires a particular skill which you and your colleagues don’t have. That is why marketing and IT are often outsourced, and those are two areas which you will almost certainly be outsourcing as well.

Procurement

In business terms, the act of procurement is simply the actual process of obtaining the services from the outsourced firm which you need. This process must be done in a manner which is as beneficial for your business as possible, and so that you know you are getting your money’s worth at all times too. Most businesses will find that they need a little help with this, which might come in the form of something like servicenow procurement or might be a matter of seeking professional advice elsewhere. Just make sure that you know how to procure and that you are doing it to the best of your ability from the word go.

When To Outsource

Finally, just as it is important to have a strong understanding of what to outsourcing, so too should you be able to say when it is wise to outsource and when it is not. That means knowing the difference between placing the work in the hands of more capable people at a time when you need the extra resources, and simply shuffling over anything that you don’t want to deal with at present. The sooner you manage to understand the difference here, the easier you will find it to know when to outsource and when to do the work in-house. This is just as important as knowing what to outsource, so make sure you look into it as soon as you can.

Incredible Benefits Of Being An Entitled Employee

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Bosses like to trash entitled employees because they’re hard to handle. It’s true that one small thing can set you off and lead to a showdown. And, you’ve got no problem with this because you like to stand up for yourself and others. Employers, on the other hand, prefer it when workers lie down and roll over. It makes their life as the leader a whole lot less stressful.

Don’t let managers and people in charge bully you into thinking being entitled is a bad thing. For one thing, it ensures you never take any BS off anyone. Here are four more reasons it’s an incredible trait to own.

You Always Get Paid

Employers aren’t one-hundred percent truthful one-hundred percent of the time. Some will take a mile if you give them an inch, and that often means you lose out financially. Even something as working overtime without being correctly compensated is a problem. While the majority of workers don’t want to rock the boat, you’re happy to raise your concerns. And, if you need to hire Turley Law Firm’s legal services to prove a point, you will. By putting pressure on the firm, it should result in them stumping up the cash. Plus, it will result in tighter rules and regulations in the future.

You Shoot For The Stars

Baby boomers were and are not like millennials and the Generation X types. They were happy with a middle managers position at General Motors or IBM. You are different because you don’t want to spend your life working for somebody else. As a result, shooting for the stars isn’t a pipedream; it’s a reality. Thanks to people like Zuckerberg and Spiegel, not to mention advancements in tech, you take risks to climb the career ladder. One day, it will mean you’re the boss and not an employee.

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You Learn

A direct knock-on effect of gambling is failing. Because it isn’t a sure thing, there’s a good chance it won’t work out in the beginning. But, entitled employees don’t care as they are happy to make mistakes. Like Thomas Edison famously wrote: “I have not failed – I’ve found 10,000 that won’t work.” Getting back up again after you fall is the only way to succeed as it’s a learning curve. Those that play it safe only learn one thing – how to stay out of harm’s way for their entire career.

You Don’t Value Loyalty

Although this sounds like a bad trait, it’s a positive from a worker’s viewpoint. For decades, businesses have used the idea of loyalty to prevent people from leaving. All the while, they were happy to terminate contracts when it helped their cause. Entitled employees understand the dynamic and are glad to trade blows. Fairy God Boss has a statistic that’s telling: almost 33% of young people leave their job early. Those who follow the same course get to use roles as stepping stones to better positions to improve their career chances.

As you can see, being entitled is a no-brainer from a worker’s perspective.

Dropshipping Tips For Beginners

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If now that it is January you are looking for a new direction for your business, there may be no better option for you to try than dropshipping. This type of business is one which has become incredibly popular in recent years and it sees you acting as a middle man between the product and the consumer. It’s a business which can be fun solely online and this makes it super accessible for many different people around the world. If you fancy trying your hand at a dropshipping business this year; here are some tips for you.

1. Sell Products You Like

With any business, it is important that you have a genuine interest in what you are doing in order for it to work and thrive. This is no different when it comes to dropshipping and you will want to make sure that you are selling products which you have an interest in in real life. If you try to sell something you have no idea or no interest in this can be a big task and you may struggle when it comes to the marketing aspect of the business.

2. Choose Something People Are Passionate About

When you begin your dropshipping business the main decision you need to make is whether or not you will be selling this or that product. When choosing a product to sell you can also think about the kind of passion it has behind it. For example vegan beauty products may hold more weight than regular ones because a lot of people are passionate about animals. Yoga will be more interesting than furniture because yoga is something people have a passion for.

3. Choose Light And Hardy

It might not occur to you at first with your products, but it is always worth thinking about the durability and size of what you are selling. Bear in mind that you will need to be paying for the shipping of items and therefore if they are big and bulky it will cost a lot more to you. Also, fragile items might break in transit and this can lead to you having to give a lot of refunds. It is much easier to choose a small durable product for your business and you can simply keep on selling these and shopping them without any major issues.

4. Dropshipping Platforms

When it comes to dropshipping there will be a few big names out there which you may immediately gravitate towards when opening up your business, however you will also want to look for the more obscure platforms which can actually handle your orders much quicker and more efficiently. For example AliExpress is a platform for dropshipping which is super efficient because it shares the same vendors as eBay. It works incredibly fast for orders so that it isn’t penalised by eBay and this can make it a wonderful choice for your customers.

5. Use Oberlo

On the other hand, there are some of the big names which are too good to miss, and one of these sites has to be Oberlo. This is an incredibly good site for starting a dropshipping business and it allows you to customise your online store and make it ideal for your niche and your market. As soon as you see a product you like and want to sell you can add it too your store without handling it and it will allow you to start selling right away.

6. Build a Strong Brand

Just like any other business and brand you may want to create, you will need to think about the marketing of your shop immediately and make sure that you take the time to really get your marketing strategy right. The best thing you can do if you want to become a successful dropshipper is to stick to one niche and bu of a strong rand around this niche. When you have access to a whole range of products it can be tempting to sell lots of different ones, but in terms of branding this can be confusing to your customers and it will make it harder for you to reach the audience you want to reach. Make sure to market your niche consistently and always engage with your customers online.

7. Get a Shipping Partner

Now that you have your products and you have a shop set up for the business, it is time to think about getting interstate transport and international transport for the business. It is always important to choose a shipping company carefully and in a smart way because they will determine how quick your product arrive with your customers and this can effect the reputation of the business. ShipBob for example doesn’t charge you for packaging or warehousing so this can be a good option for you when starting out. Make sure when speaking to a transport company that you try to negotiate because often you can get money off if you try.

8. Present Your Products Right

Another thing which is super important when you open up a dropshipping store is that you don’t just use the generic descriptions for products and boring photos for the store. It is important to remember that everyone else who is selling the same products as you will have access to the same materials and images, and you don’t want to blend into the crowd. This will be a time consuming job but it is a good idea to send yourself one of each of your products and take photographs of them in a professional and fun way which will allow your online store to look better. The same goes with product descriptions and you will do well to remember that you should use SEO keywords to your advantage as well.

9. Choose a Good Retailer

As the supplier of the products you may want to make sure you have a good relationship with a retailer who will present your products and sell them on to people all over the world. It is important when looking for a retailer that you pick one in the right niche, one which you can trust and also one which is well known by people because this will make it easy to sell. You’ll constantly be exchanging information back and forth with your retailer so be sure you find a contact who you can get along with and talk to without issues.

10. Attend Events

One of the things which will always do you some good when starting a business is to think about attending educational events. There are always ecommerce events around and about and this can be the ideal opportunity for you to learn a little more about your craft and how to really sell successfully to your customers. Make sure that you consider also networking with other people around you as this will allow you to gain tips from real people as well as make some connections should you ever need to collaborate on a project in the future.

11. Be Clever With Pricing

The way you present your products on your website will have a big impact on how people perceive your business and whether they will stay to browse and possibly buy something from you. Think about bringing featured products to the forefront of your site, show discounted prices and think about promotions which will draw people in. You can also be clever about this and compare your price with another retailer and this can be a clever tactic to make people stay on your website to browse further.

12. Sell What You Know

Just as it is important for you to sell products which you have a genuine interest in, it is important to sell products which you know and can really speak about. If you have come from a relatively beauty orientated background you won’t want to be selling tools and car parts, and visa versa. Make sure you pick a set of products which you know about and which you can talk extensively about if you ever need to. This will hugely aid your marketing strategy and it can make a big impact on your business.

13. Get a Sample

Before you even think about selling a product online under your own brand, you need to make sure that the product is to be trusted and that it is a good quality item. When you are narrowing down your search make sure to ask for a sample of the product so that you have the chance to see it and inspect it first hand. This can make a big difference to your business because you will be able to say truthfully that your products are the best ones. It will stop complaints from customers and this will make your life much easier.

14. Go Automated

Managing your dropshipping business effectively will likely be hard work because most of the time you will be working with more than one retailer at any one time and this will become harder to track as you get more successful. An automated system which helps collect and sort data can be a handy tool and one which you should certainly consider when it comes to setting up your new business.

15. Plan for Issues

No matter how amazing your business is and how flawlessly you manage to set things up; there will always be risk. Be sure that you plan for things like broken items, refunds and returns and create a policy which works for you.

Want Your Business To Upgrade Its Output? Start With The Office.

Office, Home, Glasses, Workspace, Desktop, Notebook

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With the new year well and truly underway, business owners across the globe are plotting ways to maximize performance and profit in 2019. While improvements can be made throughout all areas of the venture, the office forms the heartbeat of your venture. This makes it the perfect place to incorporate positive changes.

Here are five ways to shake things up for the better. While you may not use them all, incorporating the ideas that appeal could be the platform for taking your business to the next level.

#1. Change The Surroundings

Circumstances may dictate that relocation is necessary. When this is the case, finding the right venue is essential. However, even if you stay in the current establishment, switching up the surroundings is very possible. A change of layout or investing in new furniture can be very useful. The open plan option, combined with soundproof booths, can work wonders for the entire team. Meanwhile, opting for brighter color schemes can aid the atmosphere.

#2. Invest In Basic Staff Facilities

Taking care of the human needs can influence productivity and morale. Therefore, investing in simple things like a coffee machine and water cooler could be among the best decisions you’ll ever make. If the employees feel alert, they will perform better. You can take this further still with a classy break room. Besides, when the on-site facilities are of the desired standard, individuals will be less inclined to go off for lunch. In turn, they may get back to work quicker.

#3. Hire Better Staff Members

A strong team of employees is the hallmark of any winning business. Finding skilled, educated, and hardworking individuals to join the team will make a world of difference. Using recruitment specialists is certainly a productive solution, unless you have an HR team that’s capable of handling the task. In this modern world, it’s also worth considering the prospect of using outsourced freelancers. They can supplement the work of your on-site office staff. As long as it brings profit, who cares?

#4. Invest In Your Team Leaders

Leadership is a key business term, and it shouldn’t be restricted to your personal performance. When hiring team leaders, you need to know that they will inspire the rest of the team to achieve greatness. Behavior leadership is a strategy that makes this happen while also making senior staff members feel more valuable. The internal benefits throughout the office environment are just the start. It should result in noticeable improvements when interacting with other departments.

#5. Focus On Automation

Regardless of how great the individual employees might be, human error will still occur. That is, of course, unless you use automation and computers to remove that threat. Apps can be used to promote organization, productivity, and communication. Likewise, items like accounting software and project management tools will make the office a far better place. When the mistakes are removed in this arena, it should promote better results in other parts of the business too.

Getting these elements right won’t suddenly guarantee success, but it’ll certainly help the cause.

4 Ways to Make The Most of Working From Home

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Working from home can be a fantastic way to live a more flexible life, spend more time doing the things you want to be doing, and living life more on your terms rather than the constraints of the 9-5 lifestyle.

When you work from home your time is much less tied up with busy commutes, pointless meetings, idle chit chat around the water cooler, busy work to keep your boss placated, and constant distractions with colleagues butting in whilst you are trying to get your head down  to do work.

Working from home makes a lot of sense, particularly if you’re setting up a new business or are self-employed, as it can save both a lot of money and time.  In fact, even if you have a job, working from home is a much more efficient way to work, as this way you’re not having to waste loads of time sat in traffic during rush hour or have the expense of peak travel.

That said, working from home is not all positive, there are downsides to working from home, such as the feeling if isolation and subsequent loneliness that can kick in if you are by yourself all day, in your home office, without much contact from the outside world.  Indeed, many people that work from home find they are having to fend off low mood and depression due to feeling so isolated and not part of the world.

Therefore, whilst the morning commute can be a drag, it can also be healthy to feel part of something and have shared experiences – almost in the vein of, “it’s horrible to be sat on a freezing cold train station at 7am, but at least we’re all in it together”.

There’s also the challenge of productivity when it comes to working from home.  For some people, of course, working from home makes them much more productive, as this way they they don’t have to deal with the distractions mentioned above (e.g. colleagues chatting and distracting you)… yet, for most of people, productivity has a tendency to suffer as a result of the lack of accountability and various distractions that are much more tempting  when working from home.

It’s clear that whilst there are often lots of benefits to working from home, there are also some challenges, particularly if you struggle with discipline or concentration.

It’s therefore essential to set up a good space in which to work that will allow you to feel comfortable and relaxed yet focused and productive.  You want this to be secure, quiet and a place where you will not be disturbed.

Many people, when they think about working from home, have images of lounging around in their underwear, working in bed with their head propped up with a few pillows, and whilst this can be nice at first, it quickly gets old and can lead to a real slump in productivity.

Ultimately, you’ll want a distraction free environment that allows you to focus on the task at hand, and ideally will differentiate your ‘home’ from your ‘home office’.

1. CREATE A PRODUCTIVE SPACE

The first step, in setting up your office is to make sure you have a productive space in which to work.  This means you need to be somewhere with plenty of light, quiet, and minimalism so that you can focus on the task at hand.

The first step, therefore, is to declutter the space, as it can be very challenging to focus on a task if there is clutter everywhere.  This is why so many people find it helpful to sit in an art gallery or library when trying to concentrate.

In some ways, setting up your office might feel like an unnecessary waste of time, yet the return on effort is high… as it will help you be much more productive in the long run.

It’s imperative you create a distraction free environment that will allow you to focus, therefore decluttering the space, and ideally having a space that’s a little separate from your home is a good idea – for instance, an annexe, garage, loft, or even shed.  This way, there is some physical and emotional separation between being at home and relaxing and working from home.

This is critical, as otherwise, you will find yourself feeling rather stressed – after all, that “Friday feeling” is a thing for a reason, as is the feeling of getting home from the office… it’s important you create a divide between “working at home” and being at home.

2. COMFORT

Many people find themselves lying in bed, working from home, and this can be tempting but it often isn’t the most productive way to approach working from home.

If you’ve created a space to work in, then the next step is to ensure the space is comfortable – this means having plenty of light, heat or cool (depending on the season), and having furniture that supports you.

You’ll most likely want to get a decent sized desk, as sitting in bed or on the sofa at home is going to cause serious postural issues if you are hunched over your laptop.  The nice thing about having a large desk is that you will be able to spread out and focus your attention where it needs to be, without feeling precariously balanced or boxed in behind all the different documents and devices.

What you sit on is perhaps the most important factor when it comes to kitting out your office, as if you’re like most people, you’ll be sitting in this chair upwards of eight hours per day.  For this reason you’ll want a chair that provides decent ergonomic support and plenty of padding for your back and bottom, as you don’t want to be suffering with aches and pains due to a substandard desk and chair set-up.

3. HAVE A ROUTINE

Working from home can be a blessing but also a curse; as mentioned above with regard to feeling isolated and lonely.

On the one hand your commute is now greatly reduced, as it will be from your bedroom to your home office, perhaps just a few metres away – which has huge benefits in terms of convenience and cost reduction given the congested commutes many people are subjected to, but this “convenience” can negatively impact your productivity.

There’s something about the ritual of getting dressed for work, taking the journey to the office, picking up your morning cup of coffee and saying hello to the same people, each day, that puts you in the right mindset to work.  Essentially, it puts you in a mental state that you associate with “working” – whereas, when you work from home, you don’t have this.

Indeed, many people might not even shower until mid-afternoon and just sit around in their dressing gown whilst working.  This has been proven to reduce productivity and also cause emotional issues such as low mood and depression, even if you are performing a highly paid and highly valued role.

The thing with working from home is that there are many distractions to contend with, from Netflix to the washing up, or just having a nice long soak in the bath.  There’s much less accountability.

In this vein, you need to be a little more regimented with your time and rituals… for instance, you could set yourself a lunch hour between a set time each day, or adopt the approach that many people working from home take, which is to get dressed for work, in smart clothes, as if you were going to the office… this way it puts you in a more focused and productive state than lounging around in your dressing gown.

It’s also important to get out the house in order to beat the isolation associated with working from home, whether this is sitting in a coffee shop, or even a library from time to time.

4. WORK WHEN YOU’RE WORKING

It’s can be very tempting for your attention to drift anywhere other than on work, at the best of times, but much more so when you are working from home.

Previously, we talked about the importance of having separation between  “working” from home and relaxing at home, and this ties in with that.

If you’re in an office environment you are held much more accountable, than when working from home, as there are expectations and measures of accountability within an office environment – for instance, imagine sitting in the office watching Netflix, or getting lost in a Facebook conversation.  It would be noticed!

In this sense, you might want to set up your own ‘parental controls’ that allow you to restrict the content you’re able to access when working in order to remain focused.

This is one of the most significant challenges when working from home, as we all procrastinate, and working from home allows us to.  We are also guilty of “half working” meaning, we will have the TV on in the background, or be watching the kids, whilst trying to get on with work.

The key here, is to work when you are working and rest when you are resting.  This is why having a seperate space to work is so important.