On the slim chance that you haven’t noticed, the concept of going into an office to work every day seems to becoming optional for many. This is not because work schedules have become more relaxed, or because employees have become slackers. I think it’s because technology has delivered on its anywhere, at-any-time promise. (In fact, I am writing this in a plane.)
According to Building Your Dream Company from Home, more than half of all small businesses in the U.S. are based in the entrepreneur’s home. More specifically, there are now approximately 15 million home-based businesses, which represent about $500 billion in annual revenues.
In spite of the fact that their lower overall operating expenses make them more attractive to investors, saving money is no longer the main advantage or benefit cited by home-based business owners. It’s the lifestyle.
The most obvious lifestyle benefit, of course, is eliminating the time, frustration and cost of commuting. A friend of mine who runs her business out of her home told me recently that her drive to and from the office consumed at least 40 minutes each way, but that was dependent on two conditions: no weather and no accidents. If there were one of the two or both, the time she spent driving increased considerably. At the bare minimum, working at home has given her, her clients and her other commitments one additional day per week. Not to mention the fact that she’s in a noticeably better mood.
Another bonus for those running home-based businesses is having more flexibility. Being a highly individualized commodity, flexibility can be used for anything from spending more time with clients to being able to be more responsive to the needs of children or aging parents or, increasingly, both.
On the flip side, it is important to note that working from home also requires the ability to strike a work/life balance. Sadly, one of the things I noticed when I ran my own business from a home office in Germany was that it also meant I was always available. I ended up working through what would have been my commute time and I was essentially “always in the office” since my office was in my home. In fact, there was a quote in the article about getting more work done. One of people quoted asked, rhetorically, where do you go when you really need to focus and get some work done? Anywhere, it seems, except the office.
If you run a home-based business, please share what you consider the number-one benefit, and drawback. And, please stay tuned for our thoughts on how to set up your home office for maximum efficiency, which we’ll post in the near future.