With increasing numbers of people either already working from home or wanting to work from home, the traditional way of working is fast disappearing. Home based businesses are no longer confined to kitchen table crafters and hobbyists. They now include almost all major traditional professions and, especially, many of the ever-expanding range of digital professions.
For those reasons these home-based businesses are increasingly being viewed as both highly professional and a good alternative to the 9-5 drudge, especially for those with a long commute into a city. Working from home provides a much better work-life balance, particularly for those with young families.
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A small business run from home can be much more professional than in the past because it can now have a great digital presence with a high-quality website and a strong social media network. Technology also provides the tools to help work colleagues stay well-connected and build highly functioning teams. Apps like Basecamp, Asana, Zoom and Remo keep everyone connected.
Many small companies with less than 5 employees are able to offer excellent goods or services at much lower cost to the consumer because they do not have the overheads of larger businesses with retail or office space. But is working from home as easy as it seems and as fulfilling as working in a larger organisation?
An example of a home-based business
Take the example of a small company that provides digital marketing and technical SEO audit services to SMEs. Ditto Digital has found that most of its clients are, in fact, scattered right across the country. Clients are happy to do business online or over the phone so there is rarely a need to travel to meet face-to-face. When there is then meetings are most often at the client premises.
There was a dawning realisation that the expensive office spaces they were renting rarely if ever played host to client meetings. In addition, several of the staff had expressed an interest in a more flexible way of working with maybe 1 or 2 days working from home.
It rapidly became clear that the office rent was an unnecessary overhead eating into the small company’s profits. It was also clear that the professional SEO tools they used all had excellent cloud based options that allowed for the easy and secure sharing of data in real-time.
What are the downsides?
Nothing comes without it’s downsides and living the “dream” by working from home is no exception. Your personal space is no longer entirely your own but is used for a desk, bulky filing cabinet, printer etc. It can also be difficult to switch off at the end of the day, especially for internet-based businesses with constant access to customer data and queries. For those previously used to a busy office environment it can also be an isolating experience, even when meeting virtually on a regular basis.
And yet many small business owners continue to work from home, despite the downsides, simply because they do not want to spend their hard-earned cash renting office, warehouse or studio space. It’s a trend that is not set to go away anytime soon.