Working from home

Some of us have to work at home; others see the idea as the perfect solution to a noisy office, endless interruptions, or a long and expensive commute. But if you are seriously thinking of leaving the office on a permanent basis, there are a number of questions you must first consider.

Is it justified?

The relaxed and comfortable atmosphere generated by your home environment may sound good for morale but it is also a key reason for you to question your motives. Make sure you're not looking for an easy option, because this is not it. And make sure that your physical absence is not going to leave your business in serious trouble.

Can you maintain the work/life distinction?

Working from home offers flexibility but it also requires true self-discipline and organisation. Making a mental and physical distinction between your home and your working life is essential, both to resist the distractions of the television or garden, and, at the other end of the scale, to prevent work from wholly consuming your life.

Creating a dedicated working area is essential, while separate telephone lines for home and business could help you to maintain the boundary between 'work' and 'home' time.

Do you have the right working environment?

Take the creation of your home office seriously. It should be comfortable, well-lit and properly equipped. Working at the kitchen table is rarely conducive to an efficient frame of mind. Bear in mind that you may need to revise your insurance policy to cover business equipment in the home.

Will others support you?

It is one thing to be disciplined yourself - you will also need the support of those around you: beware of constant family interruptions! As a practical tip, a 'Do Not Disturb' sign on the office door can work wonders.

Home working Do's and Don'ts

  • Do establish a daily routine and stick to it
  • Do schedule the day's tasks and meet your own deadlines
  • Do stay in regular contact with the main office
  • Don't take work home that requires group decisions or input
  • Don't sleep late on working days
  • Don't run to the refrigerator too often!

Building strategic alliances

Finding your market niche

How to survive when times get tough

Innovate to grow

Make your planning meetings count

No business is an island

Pricing strategies

Small is profitable

Strategies for increasing revenue

The right kind of growth

Business processes:

Stock answers

Get better deals from suppliers

Should you buy in or manufacture materials?

Benchmarking best practice

Ten reasons to benchmark your business

When cutting costs is counterproductive

Is outsourcing the best strategy?

Company meetings

Designing for profit

Does your business pass the risk test?

Business finance:

Raising finance

Three steps to cheaper financing

Better financial control

Can you cut your interest payments?

Don't cut costs - manage them

Negotiate credit card fees

Reduce your utility bills

Track your leases

Watch your margins when the good times roll

Save money on office furniture and equipment

Exit Planning:

Selling your business

Selling a business - Your questions answered

Do you have a succession plan in place?

Preparing your partnership

Managing your Staff:

Recruiting staff

Get the chemistry right when recruiting

Recruiting executives

Hiring winning sales staff

Conducting a successful interview

Bringing training in-house

Employee incentives

Devising incentive schemes

The do's and don'ts of incentive schemes

How to keep your staff - cost-effectively

Identify your star employees

Consulting your staff

Remunerating for profitability

Dealing with employee absence

Keep a look-out for signs of stress

Managing for profitability

Opening the books can improve profitability

Staff appraisals

Staff handbook

Sales and Marketing:

A 16 point marketing plan

Beating the competition

Good marketing is about listening not talking

Keep your sales force selling

Customer satisfaction survey

Encourage customer complaints

Reward your most profitable customers

The customer experience

When the customer is not right

A networking strategy

Working lunches

Branding:

Building your brand

Avoiding the brand pitfalls

Management skills:

Presentation skills

The art of negotiation

Effective time management

Break the mould

Leadership checklist

General:

Identify and prevent fraud

Most common fraud risk factors

When you suspect employee fraud...

Work and travel

Working from home

Coping with disaster

Could your business survive without you?

Getting more from your business meetings

Health and safety

Helping the environment - and your business

Leasing equipment

Relocation

7 ways to protect your business against a downturn

Use corporate giving to improve your bottom line

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