By Rich Best

Many businesses begin in the home and don’t require the trappings of a separate office location. The advantages of a home office may tend to outweigh the disadvantages until overall productivity reaches a point of diminishing returns. In order to achieve optimal productivity, the decision to maintain an office in the home must take into consideration both the pleasures and the pitfalls of working in a home environment.

The Pleasures of Working from the Home

Making the carpet commute: Who wouldn’t want a daily commute of 30 feet? The obvious benefit to the carpet commute is the significant savings in transportation costs. The elimination of a 30 minute or 90 minute commute increases production time and/or time that can be spent with family.

Everything’s a write-off: Well, maybe not everything. Many expenses are deductible, including mortgage, utilities and maintenance of the portion of the house dedicated to the home office. Deducting home office expenses can substantially increase the bottom line profitability of your business.

The Pitfalls

Distractions of home life: Even if your home office is sealed off from the rest of the house, the distractions of family life and the home are bound to creep into your business day. It’s hard to totally absolve yourself of the obligations of a parent, or ignore the knocks at the door or the need to fix a broken toilet.

Distractions lie in wait in the form of televisions, swimming pools, or an inviting lounge chair beckoning you for a nap. If you’re not a self-disciplined person, it may require you to work on developing the skills and habits needed to maintain your focus.

Working too long: With everything at your fingertips, and no commute to catch, it is sometimes tempting to keep pounding away from dawn to dusk. This can throw life out of balance and adversely affect your health and your relationship with family and friends.

It is critical you maintain balance between your professional and family lives. If it requires setting aside time for exercise, family fun and social networking, then so be it.

Going stir crazy: Sometimes when people remove themselves from society for extended periods of time, they can grow stir crazy from the isolation. Interaction with people, whether in a business or a social setting, is a difficult thing to have suddenly stopped.

As part of your scheduling, it is important to plan activities around friends and networks that will ensure you stay engaged with the outside world. Balancing business and personal time is so very important.

Maintaining a professional image: Although home-based businesses are becoming more prevalent, business owners face the challenge of being able to present themselves as legitimate and professional when engaging with prospects, clients or vendors.

A professional image can be supported with the use of quality letterhead and business cards, a well-designed website and a part-time virtual assistant for handling incoming calls. If the business requires face-to-face conferences or client meetings, conference space can be rented by the day at some business centers. Some of these centers also “rent” out a postal address that can pose as your business location.

The decision to work from a home office can be very rewarding in a number of ways. With the proper perspective and an implementation plan, the pitfalls can be avoided and optimal productivity can be achieved.

Rich Best has spent 28 years in the financial services industry, as an advisor, a managing partner, directors of training and marketing, and now as a consultant to the industry. Rich has written extensively on a broad range of personal finance topics and is published on several top financial sites.

Click here for a related article on how to set boundaries when working from home.

The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank or its affiliates.