Tips and advice on working from home

There was a time when working from home meant living above a shop or running a b&b, but in a world of high-tech online and mobile communications, this is no longer the case.

As the office has become potentially more virtual, the need for workers to commute from their homes to a location miles away has been diminished in many cases. It's advantages are numerous, from providing flexible hours for those who need to be at home to look after children to the saved cost of travel. It is also environmentally friendly, as it means fewer cars on the road in the rush hour. Office politics can also be done away with.

However, those working from home are not insulated against the issues that can arise involving staff in a workplace. Anyone working at home or in a third party's premises will still need to consider issues like public liability, since the home does become a workplace for the purposes the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. 

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Furthermore, anyone who is self-employed and works from home should not forget that they need professional indemnity insurance in the same way as anyone else, to cover against any pecuniary loss as a result of something going wrong with advice given or services supplied.

Equipment also needs to be covered, whether bought as part of your own business or as an item of work property. Such items can, of course, suffer damage and failure anywhere, but there is always the potential for accidents involving pets or children.

In addition to this, anyone who does work at home as an employee should make sure they are correctly covered for any expenses they are due, as these may be tax deductible from earnings when a home becomes listed as a place of work.

Covering expenses, tax and insurance matters is not all that should concern those thinking of working at home, however.

For some, working at home offers images of a chance to sit in pyjamas with a laptop, typing up that report or sending the all-important email while sat stroking a cat - never having had to set foot outside into the cold and wet weather outside. But for others this very mixing of hard work and home comforts is a nightmare.

The term 'work-life balance' exists for a reason - working from home can be handy for those who need to be there for family and other reasons, but it does take away the chance to psychologically switch off after leaving the office and forget about the problems the day may have brought. Instead, it means bringing work home - literally.

Writing for, journalist Lucy Mangan explained that she hates working from home, as "your domestic haven, your refuge, your former place of safety is no more. It is forever polluted by work. From now on there is no true escape." She also noted that those who lack discipline and need the watchful eye of colleagues to hold them back from procrastination and laziness will also struggle.

The key, therefore, is for those thinking of working from home to be sure they can discipline themselves psychologically, both to be switched on when the work needs to be done and to leave it alone when the day is done.

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