Working from home is becoming increasingly popular – both with those who work for an employer and those starting their own business or working as a freelancer. Many employers are beginning to realize the benefits of taking on employees who work from home; not only is it cheaper for the employer, but it also allows them to hire from further afield.

Working from home is more doable than ever before thanks to cloud computing applications and a myriad of ways to stay in touch with employers and clients via web chats or video conference calls, allowing home-based workers to continue being a vital part of the team.

Whether you’re going to switch to working from home for your current employer, are going self-employed, or starting your own company, it’s important to make sure that your home and workspace are fully prepared in order to help you get the best results and stay productive amid the distractions of your home.

Consider Any Pressing Home Repairs

The last thing that you want is to have to work in a home that’s in need of repairs – especially if the issues are going to distract you from the tasks at hand. It’s always nice to know that your home is safe and secure, so if there’s anything you’ve been putting off getting looked at or fixed, like boiler issues or problems with your gutters, then now is the best time to do them. When you switch to working from home, you’ll be spending more time than ever before in your house, and you’re probably going to notice these issues a whole lot more.

Create a Dedicated Work Space

Does your home have a room that will make an ideal office for you? If not, then it might be a good idea to create a dedicated working space now. Of course, you could always work at the kitchen table or on the sofa, but this isn’t always ideal – especially if you have family members or housemates coming in and out of the room and distracting you. If you have a spare bedroom, then this can easily be turned into an office – or consider upgrading your home and adding a conservatory or sunroom which can be your dedicated working space plus a nice room to spend time in when you’re not working. For this, you will want to work with a reputable home design company.

Invest in Good Equipment

Chances are, now that you’re going to be working from home, some of the utilities that you have are going to need upgrading. A strong broadband connection, for example, is usually essential for home-workers – especially if you’re going to be using VOIP calling or video conferencing to stay in touch with clients or your employer. If you’re employed, you may be lucky enough to have an employer who will provide you with all the necessary equipment for working from home – but if not, or if you’re self-employed, you will need to foot the cost yourself. You will be able to claim this back when you do your tax return.

Set Regular Office Hours

When you’re working from home – especially when you’re self-employed – it can be tempting to work hours that fit around everything else. And while this degree of flexibility is never a bad thing, it’s always helpful to have a good routine to stick to. Setting regular office hours for yourself at the beginning will help you build a good home-working routine and help you avoid falling into the traps of procrastination.

If you’re employed, this might not be an issue as your employer may have set hours that they would like you to work, even though you’re at home. But if you are self-employed or starting your own business, the best course of action is to treat it like you would treat working for an employer and dedicate yourself to certain hours in a day. Unless your work needs to be done at certain times – for example, business hours, if you are offering a service to other businesses – then you can choose the days and hours that work best for you.

Understand What Working from Home Entails for You

Not fully understanding what working from home is involved can trip many people up – especially if you’re working for an employer who will have guidelines that they expect you to follow. This may not be as big of an issue if you are self-employed, however, if you’re working with clients, then you’ll probably find that certain guidelines are still in place when you are working for them, depending on the type of work that you do. For instance, if you are working for a company, then you may be expected to be at your computer or available on the phone at certain hours during the day; you may also be expected to travel to the office for meetings and presentations at times. Be sure that you’re clear on what’s expected of you from your employer or client to avoid issues down the line. On the other hand, if you’re working with clients, you might need to consider the costs of renting meeting rooms and so forth.

Find Ways to Socialise

Finally, working from home can get quite lonely, especially when there is no opportunity to go and work in the office for the day and spend some time with your co-workers. If you live alone, then working from home can be even more isolating, so it’s a good idea to find ways to socialize and spend time with others at least a couple of times during the week. Co-working spaces can be ideal for this if you’d like to spend time working in an environment with others – and they can also provide you with a great opportunity to network with other like-minded freelancers or business owners if you are self-employed.

If you are telecommuting for a company, then try and be as involved with the team as you can – set up instant messaging services like Slack so that you can interact throughout the day with the team and get involved with meetings via video conference call.

Whether you’re going to be employed or self-employed, working from home successfully requires a lot of preparation for both you and your home environment.