Why is having a workplace at home so critical? According to the 2010 US Census Bureau statistics, working from home is on the rise, a trend that is likely to continue for the next decade. Global Workplace Analytics data show that the typical telecommuter is college-educated, 45 years old or older and earns an annual salary of $58,000. Indeed, about 75% of those who work from home make over $65,000 per year placing them in the upper 80th percentile of all employees in the work force.
So why does this even matter to you? If you are thinking about working from home or already work from home, having a workplace at home is critical. With laptops, tablets and even smart phones so user-friendly, you can certainly just sit on your sofa and get most, if not all of your work done without an office. However, this may not be the most productive idea for your home-based business and may indeed, slow down your success. So, how can a home office help and why should you consider setting one up immediately? Let’s look at some benefits of the home-based office.
First and foremost, tax benefits of the workplace at home
When you have a home business or just work from home, it is important to take as many legal tax deductions as you can – more deductions mean more money in your pocket to reinvest in your business, save – or even spend. Setting up a home based office provides you with a solid, dedicated place to work. Even better, it gives you the opportunity to use part of your monthly home expenses as a tax deduction for your workplace at home. According to the Internal Revenue Service, you need to fulfill two basic requirements to qualify for taking deductions on the home based office:
- Regular and exclusive use.
- Principal place of your business.
Regular and exclusive use
Plainly and simply, if you are sitting on your sofa or sitting at your kitchen table to do your work, then it will be hard to prove that the location has regular and exclusive business use. It will also be difficult to calculate exactly what percentage of your sofa you use for work. Aside from other disadvantages of using a location for both living and working, IRS could question your deductions for the home office space. So, consider today, deciding where you want your home office to be located. Then, figure out how to get a desk and design an area for your own personal work space.
Principal place of your business
You must also be able to show that your home is your principal place of doing business. If you are using your home as your principal place to conduct your business, either by meeting clients or conducting meetings or by blogging, videotaping, posting sites, etc., then you should consider taking deductions for a home office on your income tax. Deductions can be taken for the portion of your home used exclusively to conduct your business when most of your business is conducted from that location. Turbo Tax does a very nice job of explaining all the parameters of home office deductions.
Home offices help you to stay focused on work
Above and beyond the tax benefits of setting up a home office, having a specific location for a workplace at home will help you be more productive and efficient. Nothing is better than getting more done in less time. So, how can having a home office help you with productivity?
For those of you working at home, you know how easy you can be distracted by everyday life. Aside from the dog barking to get out, the cat walking across your keyboard and erasing your work, the dishwasher clanking or the clothes washer clunking, the dust that needs to be dusted or the floor that needs to be mopped, family members distract by interrupting to ask questions about the next meal, a snack, clean socks or whatever happens to be the subject of the moment.
Yes, I can get very upset after the nth time my husband asks where the xyz is. . . But, realistically, time interrupted equals money lost. When you work from home, it is very important to be able to stay focused throughout work time. Having a home office can signal to you that it is time to get to work. It helps you to stay on task. AND, it can provide a signal to family members that you are at work and they need to avoid interrupting you. Thus, a home office isolated from the rest of the house, either because it is located in a separate room or is behind a curtain, will help you to maintain your focus.
Workplace at home prevents home vs. work clutter
We all know that just checking the mail every day can lead to clutter in the house. But I guess that is another topic entirely. However, reducing clutter in the house is a very real issue that most of us fight constantly. Having a home office can prevent routine office clutter from spilling over into your living quarters. Working from the sofa instead of a workplace at home can lead to spread. Your work detritus sits on the coffee table and bleeds over to to the kitchen table and counters. At that point, clutter easily gets out of control.
Work materials scattered around the house wastes your time. Time wasted shifting things around at meal time to cook on the counters or eat at the table. Then, when you put work back, you are slowed down as you try to figure out where you left off. Or – panic sets in when your mother-in-law calls to say she is dropping by. If you have your work spread throughout the home, the environment can look cluttered and overall NOT guest ready. In a cleaning frenzy, it is easy to lose track of essential materials. Starting and stopping work to utilize space for home activities or cleaning up the messy office can all be prevented. This is a critical reason for establishing a workplace at home in which you exclusively conduct business.
A home workplace reduces family fiction
Let’s face it – work-at-home and living at home can be a source of family friction. Office “junk” sitting all over the place cluttering and infringing on family space, can cause friction in your family. They may not understand that you are truly at work. By setting up a home office, you provide a boundary for work. Thus, you clearly separate work life and family life.
When you are “at work” in your home office, you can more easily set aside “home” to focus on work. Likewise, when you are “at home” and not in your office, you can focus on home stuff. This separation will inevitably lead you to be more productive “at work” and during you “home time.”
As you can probably tell, I am very committed to the importance establishing a home office. A workplace at home helps you to be highly productive and motivated to – well – to work. I have had at-home jobs with no work space and at-home jobs with a separate work spaces. Through the years, I found that a separate workplace at home reduced my challenges. This workplace at home helped to ensure a more productive work day, every day.
In addition to setting aside a location, it’s important to create a workspace that you want to spend time in. Your home office can be set up many ways. Most importantly, ensure that it is not only a designated space to work but also a place that you enjoy. This blog focuses on all things “home office. ” A substantial portion of it dedicated to DIY ideas for a budget-friendly, efficient and attractive workplace at home. Once you have decided that you, too, need this workplace at home, look around this blog for ideas.
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