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When Working from Home Puts Your Business at Risk

When Working from Home Puts Your Business at Risk

Monday, April 18, 2016/Categories: business-tips

Working from home can be awesome. There’s no commute, you don’t have to put on pants, and you can get work done from the comfort of your couch. It’s not hard to see why home-based technology businesses are so popular. In fact, 76 percent of the tech startups we serve are home-based.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that running your IT business from home can pose some risks. Namely, there's always the threat of:

  • Getting behind on work.
  • The same liabilities that plague any tech company.

Below are some tips that can help you stay productive and manage your home-based business risks with technology insurance.

Productivity at Your Home-Based Tech Business: Off the Charts or In the Dumps?

There’s good news and there’s bad news. The good news is that the Harvard Business Review reports that working from home can raise productivity by 13.5 percent. That adds up over time – every five days you work from home, you’re churning out the equivalent of 5.7 in-office work days.

The bad news? Your home is full of distractions. Between Netflix, laundry, kids, pets, drop-in visitors, and countless other things, working from home can sap your productivity until you’re losing money.

If your home-based business is going to be successful, you have to know how to combat distractions and hit that productivity sweet spot.

Stay Productive at Home with the Timeboxing Technique

Wes Bos (@WesBos), a full-stack developer and founder of , has been working from home for years. Over that time, he’s had to learn firsthand how to run a productive home-based business. He can summarize his learnings in one word: discipline.

Bos found that running a business comes with numerous administrative concerns that take his attention away from coding. When attention to work drifts, mistakes happen.

To counter these distractions, Bos learned to divide his time between coding and clerical work. He recommends a “timeboxing” technique:

  • Allocate a fixed time period to each planned task.
  • Improve productivity by reducing time dedicated to non-essential work.

“I block off time for things like taxes and receipts and all the work that comes along with being a freelancer, but I don’t let that cut into my actual coding time,” Bos says. “I have to remember, at the end of the day, I’m getting paid for coding. If you start making busywork your actual job, your business isn’t going to succeed.”

The takeaway: Schedule separate time slots for clerical and business tasks so you focus on the work you’re actually being paid for.  

Stay Productive at Home with Isolation (and Communication)

“One of the biggest challenges I've seen in two decades of project management work is the delays caused by multitasking and interruptions,” says career and small business strategist Mike McRitchie (@MikeMcRitchie), founder of . “I've seen commitments that could take a couple hours to complete delayed weeks and months because the urgent item always bumps completion.”

He shares his advice for working at home when distractions abound:

  • Sequester yourself. “My biggest suggestion here is shutting off the phone and Internet connection, locking yourself in an office or quiet room, and knocking out your tasks," McRitchie says. "Often you can accomplish more in a couple hours of focused work than in a whole day of interrupting phone calls, emails, and drop-ins."
  • Share the why. “People will do more to achieve a worthy goal or if they're given a reason,” says McRitchie. “If you're a solopreneur / IT contractor, you may not need others to be on your team and buy into your vision, but you do often need family and friends to understand without disowning you. Giving them some of the big picture can help them give you the space you need.”
  • Publicly commit. “Committing publicly to a deadline adds an additional layer of pressure (to yourself or others). And as we all know from doing term papers in school, knowing you have a deadline seems to increase the urgency," explains McRitchie. "This works with family members, too. If they know you have a specific deadline, you're not being difficult – you're just working to wrap things up.”

Technology Insurance for Home-Based Businesses

If you have a technology business at home, chances are your homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover your business property. It also won’t typically offer coverage for lawsuits if a client or customer gets injured while visiting your home.

To address these liabilities, consider a Business Owners’ Policy. A BOP is an affordable insurance bundle designed for small, low-risk operations like home-based tech businesses. It offers…

If you have business insurance and you’ve got your productivity game on lock, working from home can be the best thing that ever happened to you.

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