Final top tips for setting up a great home office workspace – part two

Our final 5 tips for setting up a great home office workspace

In last week’s blog we shared five top tips to help you start setting up a super home workspace. Now you’ve got the basics covered, here are another five tips to help you set up a workspace which is not only pleasant to work in but also highly efficient:

 

1. Get equipped The equipment you’ll need depends on your type of work and you probably have the basics – computer, printer, scanner, shredder. It is useful to have a smart phone specifically for business which you can set to voicemail after hours.

 

Insider knowledge: Don’t buy expensive equipment to start with. You’ll soon find out what’s essential.

 

2. Where to put it? When planning, make a list of all the materials you’ll need to store – books, ink, paper, stationery…  It’s easy to underestimate your storage needs and end up with a cluttered and inefficient workspace.

 

Insider knowledge: It’s cheap to source smart boxes and files in co-ordinating colours.

home office

 

3. Getting together Unless you have a dedicated room for your home office, consider whether you might prefer to meet clients elsewhere, either at their base or in a meeting room rented by the hour in a hotel or large office building.

 

4. Decorating and finishing touches How your workspace looks affects your mood and motivation so consider colour, texture, comfort and ambience. Have a look online for ideas.

 

Insider knowledge: A notice board for uplifting photos, affirmations, letters of thanks helps with motivation and some people like to burn scented candles or play soothing music to inspire or encourage creativity.

 

Remember, if you will be video calling or conferencing your background should look uncluttered to avoid distracting the caller.

 

5. A place for everything… Before you decide where you are going to put everything in your workspace, sit in the chair and imagine going through a normal work day.

  • Is everything you need to hand?
  • Is your phone in its charging cradle in front of you?
  • Do you have to open a drawer to find a pen or notepad?
  • Do you have to get up to reach the filing cabinet?
  • Stretch to reach a much-used reference book?
  • Can you see the wall clock without twisting round?
  • Can you reach the switches for computer and peripherals?

 

Then move everything to its optimal position. The trick is to keep the most-used items nearest and the least used items farther away.

 

A tidy office is a tidy mind so having set up your workspace, keep it well organised so you can impress with your efficiency and ability to find information quickly.

 

And try to avoid this! :

 

great home office

 

Finally, sit back and enjoy your workspace and the exciting prospect of working from home.

 

In next week’s blog we’ll reveal how contracting can give you the professional and  personal lifestyle you’ve always wanted.


Meanwhile, if you have any tips or your own ideas on how to create a workspace to harness maximum productivity, we’d love to hear from you so please leave a comment.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

5 tips for setting up a great home office workspace

5 tips for setting up a great home office workspace

Can you ensure maximum productivity when working from home? Or are you distracted by clutter, noise, household chores…or 100 other things?!

In the first of our two-part blog, we share our top tips to creating the ideal home workspace to ensure home and work life can run in harmony! If you’re working from home or are about to start, you need to consider the practicalities of setting up a workspace which is comfortable and efficient.

It’s possible to spend over £20,000 for a top of the range home office, but it makes more sense to start with something a little more economical. You don’t want to spend your profits before you’ve made them!

Follow these five tips to get started on creating the perfect home office workspace. We will reveal the following 5 in our next blog:

 

Planning is key in creating a great workspace:

1. Can home and work mix? Ideally, you will have a spare room, but many people use a corner in another room of the house.  Others fit an office under the stairs. It’s possible to convert your loft or build a garden office if money’s no object. Technology means workspaces can be much smaller than previously.

 

2. Silence is golden. Will other people be at home during your working hours?  If so, you need to be as far away from noise disturbance as possible. Young children don’t understand a “Do Not Disturb” notice. You should also consider privacy and client confidentiality if you share your home.

 

3. Simplicity is best. Aiming for a paperless office will mean more space for you and is better for the environment.

 

4. Ergonomics. Make efficiency and comfort your priority – consider lighting and whether backrests, footrests or wrist pads would be beneficial. Place your equipment where it will save bending. Spend as much as you can afford on a really comfortable chair – this should prevent any tendency to lie on the sofa with your laptop…

 

5. Furniture. You may already have suitable furniture or you could consider buying secondhand and repurposing it. You could try refurbished office furniture companies or retailers such as Ikea. For about £300 you can buy a workstation which very neatly looks like a cupboard when closed.

 

It’s almost time to sit back and enjoy your workspace and the exciting prospect of working from home.

 

In the second of our two-part blog we share five more tips to setting up the ideal home office, that includes how aesthetics can increase your productivity and what happens when you need to have a client meeting.

 

What works for you? We’d love to hear your tips so please leave us a comment.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

What can I claim for when using my home as an office?

What can I claim for when using my home as an office?

For many Limited Company contractors it doesn’t make financial sense to rent out office space. Instead, a room or area in their own home is set aside for business use. This provides the convenience and flexibility of working at home on the tasks needed to run the business as and when the demands of fee earning work allow.

If this is how you operate your own business you’re likely to be able to claim a use of home as office allowance from HMRC. This allowance recognises that many smaller businesses legitimately conduct part of their business from home and incur related expenses.  The rules around claiming are quite stringent, but nonetheless it’s worth claiming what you’re entitled to rather than missing out.

HMRC rules for use of home allowance

The general rule is that tax deductions for home office use only apply to expenses that are wholly and exclusively for the business. In many cases working from home involves use of space and resources that are in private use much of the time, only partly being used for business purposes. Generally, as long as the expenses claimed are reasonable and match the kinds of expenses a business like yours would usually incur, HMRC are likely to accept them. Just make sure that you’re able to justify each expense if HMRC asks you to do so.

There are two methods used to calculate use of home allowance claims: the Flat Rate or the apportionment basis.

Flat rate method for use of home claim

This is the easiest to work out and does not require any records to be kept or evidence of expenditure. HMRC publishes rates each year, the current use of home allowance for April 2014/2015 is £4 per week making a total of £208 per year. Not much, but better than nothing!

Apportionment basis method for use of home claim

This is more complex to work out but if you do a lot of work at home the effort can be worthwhile.   You’ll need to keep the invoices and receipts of all relevant expenses, as well as a record of the basis and detailed calculations of the business portion you’re claiming for. This is generally apportioned with reference to the number of rooms in the house, and the amount of time that you use your office space for business purposes and private purposes.

The apportionment basis splits property costs into fixed and running costs. You can potentially claim for both, as well as for items of capital expenditure such as office equipment. The amount of the claim will be for the portion of use that is applied to your business.

Fixed costs – these are items that apply to the property itself, such as Council Tax, mortgage interest, water rates, insurance, repairs or rent. It’s important to only include HMRC allowable fixed costs, which must be related to actual business use. When claiming for insurance costs, if there is a separate policy for the business then this would be allowable in full. Otherwise you can claim a proportion of the general household insurance using your business use apportionment calculated above.

Any expense that relates to the house as a whole can be apportioned and included in the home as office claim, for example exterior painting of the whole property or even garden maintenance if customers visit the property regularly. However if the repair relates solely to a part of the house that is not used for business purposes then it would not be allowable, such as decorating the lounge when this is never used for business purposes.

Running costs – these are items which vary with use, such as light, heat, power,  telephone and broadband. Only allowable costs should be included and elements such as floor space and duration of business use should be factored into the calculation.

Some running costs also have a fixed element, such as fixed line rental on a telephone. Again, the business use portion would need to be calculated to work out the amount which can be claimed.

It is worth bearing in mind that as long as a part of your house is not used exclusively for business purposes, then there will be no question of a capital gain when you sell your house at a future date. If a part of your home is used exclusively for business purposes there may a case for HMRC to disallow the Principle Private Residence Relief on that proportion of the sale proceeds on a future sale.

Your contractor accountants will be able to provide expert advice on these calculations to help you claim the maximum allowance available to you, whilst not becoming liable to capital gains tax on any future sale of your home.

For more detailed information on this topic, including worked examples of how the use of home allowance might apply, download the Intouch Contractors Guide Use of Home as Office.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.