Making home working work
PUBLISHED: 12:41 28 October 2014 | UPDATED: 12:41 28 October 2014
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Anna Savitsky, copywriter at Easy Accountancy, gives a guide to how to make working from home pleasant, productive and professional, as well as what to claim back from the tax man
Working from home has many advantages, from the quiet environment and flexible hours, to having a commute that merely involves walking downstairs. Therefore it is no wonder that in June 2014 the Office for National Statistics reported that the number of home workers in the UK was at the highest rate since records began, making up 13.9 per cent of the UK’s workforce.
However, for those self-employed, freelance or small business owners that find working from home a reality there may be times when cabin fever, isolation and an inability to switch off set in, which could hinder your productivity. To ensure that you are working in harmony we have put together our top tips to working at home successfully.
Plan your day
When working from home, especially if you are just starting out it can be easy to get distracted. Planning what you want to achieve each day and setting deadlines will help you to stay focused and work productively. If there is someone that you need to contact on a particular day, try and get hold of them first thing so that if they are unavailable they have the rest of the day to get back to you.
Through experience you will learn how to prioritise your tasks to give the best workflow and productivity.
Create a set work space
Avoiding distractions is the secret to success when working from home. Create your own office or work zone away from any disturbances and keep this area for work only. Choose somewhere away from the main commotion of your home and organise childcare the same as you would if you were working elsewhere. Make your home office a place that you want to be, whether it is through having pictures, photos or a comfy office chair.
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean that you have to stay in every day. Give yourself a change of scenery every once in a while by working from your local library or café (with WiFi of course); this will combat cabin fever and isolation.
Have a routine
One of the main advantages of working from home is the flexibility it allows. Depending on whether you are a morning person or an evening person you can tailor your working hours to suit you. Having said that, whether you choose to start work at 8am or 11am make sure you have a set routine that you can commit to and factor in breaks. Ensure that your clients know your working hours so that they are clear on the times they can get hold of you.
Make sure that you are always working in a clean and tidy environment. Even if the rest of your house is a mess make sure that your work space is organised and your files and documents are in order. When working from home it is also a good idea to ensure that you have everything you need to conduct your business effectively. Whether you are a Dressmaker and need to repair your sewing machine or an IT Consultant who requires updated computer software; if you are self-employed and the cost is solely and exclusively for the running of your business, you may be able to claim the cost as a business expense.
Five expenses to claim if you work from home
Expenses are costs incurred solely and exclusively for business purposes and are paid out of your gross salary rather than your net salary saving you 20% tax or 40% if you are a higher earner. No matter what size your business is you are entitled to claim expenses. With almost 14% of the UK’s workforce working from home and nearly two-thirds of these being home workers, what exactly are you entitled to claim if you are self-employed and work from home?
To help answer this question Easy Accountancy has put together our guide to five common expenses to claim if you are self-employed and work from home.
1. Property Repairs
If you work from home and the area of your home that you use for work needs repairing, then in some cases a proportion of the cost could be claimed as an expense. The amount that can be expensed depends on the percentage of time that the area is used for business.
As a basic example, if you use your home office for work 25% of the time and the total repair costs on this room is £100 then you could claim £25 as an expense.
If the repairs are on an area of your property that is not used for your business then you are unable to claim any of the cost as an expense.
2. Utility Bills
The extra water, gas and electricity costs that you incur through working from home could be claimed as an expense.
The cost of your utility bills can either be claimed as a flat rate of £4 per week, or through claiming a proportion of the overall cost.
If you choose to claim a proportion of the overall cost the amount than can be expensed is based on the number of rooms your property has, the number of rooms that are used for business and the percentage of time that these rooms are used for work purposes.
The cost of your broadband may be classed as an expense. If you use your broadband for both business and personal use, which will probably be the case if you work from home, you will need to work out the proportion of your overall cost that has been used for work purposes.
4. Phone Bill
The minutes and texts on your phone bill that have been used for business could be classed as an expense. To keep things simple some self-employed individuals find it easier to have two phones – one for business use and one for personal use – so they can simply expense one phone bill.
Whatever business you are running there will be equipment costs incurred. Whether the cost is for printer ink, stationery, computer software, a builder’s helmet or hairdressing scissors, if it is solely and exclusively for the running of your business then it could be classed as a business expense.