Category Archives: Home Working

Home working is on the rise but can it work for you? Learn more about home working and issues that you find when working from home from our latest blogs.

Making the move from freelance to small business owner

Top view working at desk with laptop

Can you transform your freelancer operation into a registered small business…

At some point many freelancers think life would be easier if they were running as a small business. Whether that’s because they’re getting enough work to be employed five days a week, 50 weeks a year, or they feel they’ll never be taken seriously while working from their bedroom.


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5 myths about working from home

VV 4 Nov 14b2

If you haven’t worked from home, you may dream of rolling out of bed in your pyjamas and strolling to your desk, coffee in hand. Office-based employees may think that remote workers have it easy, but it’s not always as easy as it sounds. We look at 5 commons myths about working from home.

1. It’s easier than working in an office

In some ways this is true as you won’t have to deal with commuting and stressing about what to wear to the office. But working from home isn’t for everyone. You’ll have to be super-organised and efficient to ensure that you complete projects on time and also be sufficiently self-motivated to work by yourself. It can get rather lonely at times, especially if you’re a people person and enjoy chatting to colleagues. You also might end up working more hours in order to meet deadlines – and to prove to office-based staff that you’re not slacking off.
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Business owners work 63% longer than other Brits

VV 8 Sept 2a

Small business owners know how hard they have to work to get their company of the ground and help it to grow.

And on average, those who head up their own organisation work 63 per cent longer than the average Briton – around 52 hours each week, according to call handling solutions company Penelope.

The survey of 2,000 businesses also revealed that entrepreneurs in the capital are among the hardest working, spending around 61 hours every week on the job. This is compared to their Scottish counterparts, who work an average of 46 hours.

And the bad news for those who feel overworked and in need of a break is that this trend shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, data from the Office for National Statistics found that there has been a 0.3 per cent increase in working hours in the last three months alone.

Commenting on the findings, co-founder of Penelope Ed Reeves said: “Many owners are both time and cash-strapped, they need to make the most of every day because the amount of time being squeeze into the working week is enormous.”

After all, being the owner of a firm means taking on numerous roles and spreading yourself thin in order to control and manage each area of the company.

However, just like the rest of the UK workforce, it’s important for business owners to take note of their work/life balance so they don’t find themselves burnt out – it wouldn’t be good for growth if you were out of work sick for weeks after all.

For company heads, choosing how much time to invest in work can sometimes be a tough decision, however there are tools available to alleviate some of the pressure and ensure that you can be flexible about the work you leave behind at the end of the day.

Believe it or not, it is possible to own a small company and have a healthy work/life balance.

Posted by the Secret Businessman

Flexible working – the definition and the law

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“Flexible working” is a subject we return to frequently on the Velocity Virtual blog, because it’s likely to be key to many entrepreneurs who use the service. But it’s worth taking a step back to consider what it is, and what all companies – not just those who make a point of working “flexibly” – need to be aware of.

 

For small businesses, the issue is a double-edged sword. On the plus side, one of the main reasons people start their own business is to work how they want, when they want. On the other hand, as a new business, clients and suppliers are likely to expect you to be open during business office hours. In other words, the smaller your workforce is, the more your flexibility is constrained – someone needs to be in to answer the phone.

 

So what is flexible working? It’s a broad church, covering not only flexitime and working from home but compressed hours, job sharing, phased redundancy and many others. The government, for example, defines the concept as “a way of working that suits an employee’s needs. This can, for example, mean they work certain hours or work from home.”

 

Microsoft defines flexible working in more results-based terms. According to Dave Coplin, the company’s impressively-titled “chief envisioning officer”: “flexible working…is about being mindful about the work you have to do at that moment in time (be it the next task or the things you need to get done today) and choosing the most appropriate location for that work.”

 

Both the above definitions are vague, which is probably why the Institute of Leadership and Management claim that 94% of companies already offer flexible working of some sort. For a small firm, there are likely to be two considerations – what hours will you and your colleagues work, and where will they work?

 

There is no right answer to this, but at a minimum, it’s important to know the law. All employees have a right to request flexible working. Some – including people who care for adults or children, can make a “statutory application” for flexible working. Employers do not have to grant these, but they do have to observe due process.

 

Furthermore, the government has announced that it intends to look at reforming the law around flexible parental leave, and it’s likely that employers’ responsibilities in this area will change at some point within the next three years. It’s unlikely that this will spell huge, business-critical changes for small firms – but they will need to be aware of it, so as not to fall foul of the law.

 

So, whether or not you make a point of working flexibly, if you have employees or colleagues, there is a chance that some of them might want to, and it pays to know the legal landscape.

 

Finally, one of the reasons we have set up Velocity Virtual is to give small companies a greater degree of flexibility than they would otherwise have. VV customers may not start work at 9am, but their outsourced receptionist does. They may not work from an office, but they have an outsourced meeting room that they can use whenever they want. While we are proud of being one of the first to provide this service, there’s a wider point – in years to come we are likely to see a cultural shift towards working in more locations, not just one office. If this happens, “flexible working” may begin to disappear as a phrase – it will become the norm, not just a buzzword.

 

Posted by the Secret Businessman

 

The home working debate goes on

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The debate about home working continues with more big companies chiming in to offer their two cents.

What started as a Yahoo! memo to employers saying they could no longer work from home as CEO Marissa Mayer believes great things happen in the corridors at work, has lit the web on fire.

Richard Branson was quick to respond, saying the move “seems a backwards step in an age when remote working is easier and more effective than ever”. The self-made tycoon believes people should have the freedom to choose and he even admitted that he never worked out of an office himself.

Now Vodafone, in collaboration with YouGov, has released figures stating that companies could slash £34 billion if they were to encourage more of their employees to take up home working.

So, who are you to believe? Well if you ask me, it seems like Mayer is swimming against the tide. If you’re an SME, there’s no doubt that anything that can be done to cut overheads will be financially beneficial in the long run.

Posted by the Secret Businessman

Working from home ‘can bring many benefits’

VV 17 Mar a

Working from home is often put forward as a great solution for people looking for a more flexible employment pattern.

Individuals will be able to plan their shift out in a way that suits them, while they will have more time to focus on their day-to-day activities as their commuting times are non-existent.

I think businesses should be looking to take advantage of such measures, especially as the economy struggles for growth.

Not every company will be in a position to offer pay increases to staff members, but by encouraging flexible working practices, they can make sure people know they are a valuable member of the team.

Indeed, a study by the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization found remote workers are more productive on creative tasks, which could be because they are free of the distractions the office brings.

So this is something all companies should bear in mind.

Posted by the Secret Businessman

How’s your work-life balance?

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Anyone setting up their own company knows how hard it is. 20 hours a day, 365 days a year? Yes, sometimes it really is like that.

So I’m not too surprised at some new research which finds UK entrepreneurs are amongst the hardest working of all with 24 per cent taking no annual leave, compared to only five per cent of permanent workers.

The survey by Boox, a cloud-based accountancy service, found when they do take a holiday, almost half of all self-employed workers continue to work, compared to 23 per cent of permanent employees.

Entrepreneurs are also twice as likely to check work emails during holidays, the research found.

But despite the demanding workload, businesspeople remain on the whole optimistic about their work-life balance, with 56 per cent comparing it favourably to those in full-time employment.

I’m not someone who would advocate burning yourself into the ground – this is no good for long-term productivity – but my view is anyone starting out in business needs to be prepared for the reality of it.

When you’re in charge of your own business, meeting deadlines, securing contracts and meeting clients take on a whole different meaning because they have a much more important role in our lives. Some hard work is required – simple as that.

Posted by the Secret Businessman

 

Start-up finance – should you ever turn to the bank of mum and dad?

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Looking back, I was one of the lucky ones.

When I started setting up my business, I needed some initial investment. Not much admittedly, as I set up all from the comfort of home. But still – enough to get me going.

Well, I walked into the bank, shook hands with the manager and, hey presto, walked out with my start-up loan.

It was a brilliant day. The day I knew my business was well and truly off the ground.

Nowadays, getting access to finance – particularly from high street banks – isn’t so easy as wandering in to your local HSBC armed with the gift of the gab.

Indeed – from what I’ve seen access to loans is one of the biggest challenges start-ups and entrepreneurs now face.

There are also a growing number of alternative funding methods available – such as crowd-funding platforms (I’m doing a piece on these tomorrow – keep your eyes peeled).

But a study by Bibby Financial Services found more than one in five small firms have turned to family and friends for loans after struggling to secure finance from high street banks.

The company said the number of small businesses applying for external funding fell to 31 per cent in the last 12 months – with 29 per cent failing to secure bank finance or feeling deterred from applying because they expected to be rejected.

Family and friends? I’m really not sure about this. I’d never say never of course, but my feeling is that access to finance should come from traditional and alternative lenders.

In some cases family cash investment can be a feud waiting to happen and there are all sorts of problems associated with it.

Yet we know it is still difficult to secure investment from standard sources. Nevertheless, there are lots of things entrepreneurs can do to enhance their position – effective research, a sound business plan.

What do you think though – should you ever mix business with family?

Posted by The Secret Businessman