2017 saw PRMR Inc. relocate into a fabulous upscale building called the Atrium in Haggatt Hall, also home to G&A Communications Inc. and FedNav.
This move was nearly ten years in the making because, for the most part, my employees and I were comfortably located at my home in St. James. However, I decided as the business grew and moved closer to its 10th Anniversary, it was time for it to reinvent itself and become better known on the island for our fantastic public relations work.
Having successfully run a business from home all those years, I have decided to share some tips to help entrepreneurs who may decide to follow this path before taking the leap of faith to buy or rent office space.
Here are my ten tips for running a successful home office:Always dress for work and encourage staff to do the same
As the saying goes ‘your attitude determines your altitude’, and I have found that the way you dress also determines your approach to any scenario. Remember, you are working from home not socializing so business attire should always be the order of the day. I made the exception with shoes. At the home office, you were allowed to wear slippers however work appropriate shoes were always to be on hand should there be a call out to a client.Hire at least one employee to answer the telephone at all times
There’s nothing more unprofessional than an unanswered company phone. I personally find it annoying, and for small businesses it always comes off as if you are not handling your affairs professionally and therefore you may not be the best person for the job. Therefore, you should have at least one staff member to answer the telephone at all times because even with a cellular phone, you will not be able to answer all of your calls yourself.
Keep the work area separate from the home
Make the work area look like an office and not an extension of the home. It is important to create a working space that feels like a workspace, especially in a home. We see now that particularly tech companies are making their workspaces more casual and fun, however that is inside a cold, sterile building. Inside the home, you must try for a different ideal; one of old fashioned professionalism.Have a separate bathroom area
Amenities are important and the more you can have them separated from the ones used by the family, the greater the distinction between home and office.Have a separate entry door/Website
A storefront whether metaphorical or real is important to business. Websites now provide fantastic virtual storefronts that can give you the perception of a company of any size. Having a separate entry door that can also act as your storefront, does much from a psychological standpoint to draw the lines between home and office.
6 Have a separate telephone line/number for the business
I must admit that my son has answered the dedicated office line on occasion but no more so than he would have if he were visiting me and happened to be sitting at my desk, for example when I was working at the Nation Newspaper. I have already spoken on the importance of answering the phone. Having the phone answered in a professional manner on a separate line to your personal home line goes a long way to shaping the perceptions stakeholders have of your business.Have a Separate Mailing Address
The use of a mailbox as the official company address is essential to complete the perception of a separate business location, especially if you live in a residential area. Your address is as important as your phone number, and your separate mailing address complements a separate telephone line in order to ensure your business is seen as a separate professional entity to your home. This is especially important in the Caribbean where working from home is still viewed almost as a hobby or a temporary state to relieve unemployment.
You need to set boundaries for yourself and your staff if working from home is to be a success. I told my staff that when I was upstairs, it was to be treated as if I was not in the office. There were also certain physical boundaries within the house in which staff were not permitted to venture.
Give the office its own equipment
There is nothing tackier than running out of equipment. You should not be borrowing your children’s stationery so practice always having equipment in stock to keep the office running smoothly. As I got better at working from home, I found myself even separating the things like allocated staff coffee and sugar from that of the family’s supply.
Set boundaries for your family
In the same way that you should not be borrowing from your children, they in turn should also not be borrowing from you. Give your kids rules for engaging with staff and for venturing into the office area. Because my staff virtually saw my son grow up, he got so comfortable with them that he would venture into the office with just his boxers. Of course, I had to remind him that although we were located at home the rooms he was wondering into was not the home, but the office. Set limits on the times, when and how the family can use or come into the office.
I am sure that they are more strategies that can be employed but these 10 have helped me to grow from a home office to now a separate corporate location.