If you’re working from a home office, congratulations - you're part of an ever-increasing trend, whether you're a solopreneur or an employee at a Fortune 100 company. The State of the Remote Job Marketplace report from FlexJobs says nearly 4 million Americans work from home at least half the time.
But even as it becomes more commonplace, there are some myths about home offices that persist. We think it’s time they were put to rest.
Home Office Myth 1:
It’s ok to have a messy desk since no one but you has to see it.
The Truth: Even if you don’t have to worry about your boss walking by, a messy desk can hurt productivity. In fact, it’s estimated that Americans spend two-and-a-half days a year looking for lost items. That’s why you might want to create and maintain a system that allows you to keep all your papers organized, from tax documents to contracts. And try not to overlook the “mess” on your computer. Keeping your email and digital files organized can help you retrieve related documents easily.
Home Office Myth 2:
It’s hard to focus on work at home.
The Truth: Distractions definitely abound, but the key to not getting sidetracked by your neighbor, the DVR or house chores is to schedule your day so you’re not tempted to fill time with other projects. Once you have a handle on the day’s meetings or calls, try to look at the free blocks and schedule in work-related tasks, from starting your monthly sales report to sending invoices. It’s fine if you want to start some laundry, get dinner going in the slow cooker or even take your dog for a walk. Try to make sure you schedule those activities into a block just as you would a conference call.
Home Office Myth 3:
It's a pain to handle admin tasks without the office infrastructure.
The Truth: You may no longer have a mail room but that doesn’t mean that you’re going to have to spend your lunch hour waiting in line at the post office or printing reports page by page on your home printer. Sources like Office Depot can help you with many services like printing and copying professional-looking presentations and documents. They'll also let you drop off packages and can help with a variety of tech-related troubleshooting.
Home Office Myth 4:
It’s ok to take a home office deduction even if you’re working at the kitchen counter.
The Truth: According to the IRS, you can only take the deduction for a room that is used exclusively for work. That means that if you answer work-related email on your laptop in the den while the kids play video games, you cannot deduct the square footage of the TV room as a business expense. In addition, you can't deduct your home office if you also have an "office office" supplied by your employer. The deduction is only applicable if it's your principal place of business. And speaking of the IRS, that’s another reason why organization is so important. You don’t want to inadvertently miss a tax deduction that you deserve.
Home Office Myth 5:
You can work in your pajamas.
The Truth: This one is not actually always a myth. Sometimes you’ll get up, become engrossed in a project and realize three hours later that, indeed, you are still in your pajamas. Of course, other people say they feel more productive when they put on real clothes so try to do what works best for you. But if you do wear your pajamas, just remember to throw on a sweater before you take that conference call. Even though you’re working from home, it is good to look professional.
About the Author
Cathie Ericson is a freelance writer covering business and consumer topics. She creates branded content for Fortune 500 companies, and her work has appeared in LearnVest, Costco Magazine, Forbes, TheGlassHammer.com and IDEA Fitness. Follow her @cathieericson.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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