COVID 19 Blog 2 – This is How to House Your Home-Based Business (with the Perfect Office Space)

Photo via Pixabay

From time to time, I post guest-written blogs that are pertinent to my consulting areas of diversity and career development. Now that I am creating a series that is connected with living in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic, this guest blog provided by Marissa Perez is very relevant since many more of us are now working from home.  In fact, a recent news article further asserts that in the post virus world, we will likely see more people working at home permanently.

Marissa Perez, co-founder and head marketing writer at Business Pop, has spent the last 10 years honing her marketing skills, and now is sharing her small business / entrepreneurial expertise through this third guest blog she has provided.

# # # # # #

Working and living in the same space can be very complicated. A dedicated workspace is vital for business success, but making room for your wares often presents unique challenges. From stocking products to making room for your computer to handling packing and shipping, here’s how to best house your home-based business.

1) Evaluate Existing Office Space (or Potential)

You may already have an unused space in your home that would be perfect for a home-based business. However, if you’re stocking products as you begin a Fulfillment by Amazon business, for example, it could take some innovation to make things work. You’ll need both a place to work at your desk and an area for managing stock, so it’s time to get creative.

Go Up and Over to Make Things Fit: Even for smaller products, you need adequate space for storage. One way to remedy limited square footage is by building up and over. Consider installing shelving units, wall hooks, and other vertical storage to make the most of a narrow floor plan.

Other space-saving options include fold-down workstations, loft desks that can hold the product above and your computer below, or even a full-blown loft space. Make sure your storage area is convenient to access so you can rotate inventory and process orders.

Build Out to Make Room: Another option is to build an addition to fit your office. Whether it’s adding to — or converting — a garage or installing a modular space, you’ll need to check your city’s local building code for guidelines. Each project will require permission from your local municipality.

Building onto your house can also get expensive. According to HomeGuide, the national average cost of building a home addition is $48,000.  However, you could also consider a “bump-out” or smaller addition to an existing room to increase your square footage for a lower cost. Per the Spruce, an addition can cost as little as $17,000 for 20 square feet of space.

Consider Moving Your Home and Business

If your existing home is too cramped for work, you might think about moving. But buying a new home to make room for your business involves some important steps.

Follow Steps for a Smart Home Search: When you decide to buy a home, you’ll need to establish a realistic budget and get pre-approval from your lender. Pre-approval means you’re ready to submit paperwork to make an offer once you find the perfect property. But you also need a reliable real estate agent to show you homes in your desired neighborhood or city.

Investing in a home office may make tax deductions available.

Take Note of Potential Tax Breaks: Whether you’re buying property or staying put, note that when you have a home business, you may qualify for a handful of valuable tax breaks. Tax deductions are available for home offices, home-based business expenses, and even travel expenses, according to Bench.

Potential tax breaks might not influence your buying decision overall. But it’s worth noting that your home office must be a separate space that’s used exclusively for your work—so installing your desk in the corner of the living room won’t qualify you for deductions.

Decorate for Maximum Productivity

Whatever type of home-based business you run, your office space should be inviting and functional. Staying organized is key for getting work done, so clear out cluttered drawers, toss trash, and scan must-keep documents to help boost productivity.

Of course, you shouldn’t discount the impact of your surroundings when it comes to how energized or focused you feel. Lighting and furniture can make a difference whether you’re working five hours or 50, so choose pieces that are bright and ergonomic, respectively.

Whether you and your home business stay put or move shop, designing an organized and productive home office is crucial for your success. Fortunately, thoughtful planning (and purchasing) can make all the difference.

COVID 19 Blog 1 – Diversity of Access, an aspect we can all now better understand

This woman is on her way to work. What happens if the bus does not show up?

I know we are all now living through a very strange time, with many of us working at home, being physically isolated from others, and many unfortunately even losing their jobs. Therefore, for the next month or so I will be writing blogs about my diversity, career development and leadership consulting through the lens of living through the COVID 19 virus (Coronavirus) pandemic

For this first blog, I am going to discuss an aspect of diversity which often is forgotten; diversity of access. Most often diversity discussions start with those immutable characteristics like gender, race age, sexual orientation. Then we move to diversity of life experience and upbringing like marital status, if we have children, military experience, our economic standing. But one aspect we often don’t recognize is the impact of access issues.

Now that we are living through this age of the COVID 19 virus pandemic, more of us are experiencing relatively minor issues of access:
• We may not be able to leave the house to get something we need
• A surgery or medical treatment we have scheduled may need to be delayed to give priority to severe COVID-19 cases
• A service we need may not be able now to come to our home and deliver
• We may go to the supermarket and only find six of the ten items we were seeking to buy.

Many low-paid people may need to decide between staying home while sick or going to work to meet financial obligations.

So given these experiences, perhaps we need to consider more severe and often permanent issues of access that can impact a person’s career or ability to find work. Be mindful of these, especially if you are a hiring manager and evaluating candidates too harshly. Here are some examples:

• A person with a medical condition which keeps them from driving, or being unable to financially afford car, and needing to reply on public transportation may show up late when the bus does not arrive.

• A single parent whose child care provider is ill and does not show up at the last minute may mean that an employee may not make it to work that day or be late since they have to scramble to arrange alternate childcare.

• A low hourly wage earner who does not have paid sick leave may need to choose between showing up to work sick or not making enough money to buy food that week.

What is unfortunate is that often these access issues disproportionately affect those who are already economically challenged, which further exacerbates their opportunities to compete for better jobs and pay. And we also need to keep in mind the intersectionality of diversity attributes, that issues of access disproportionately impacts constituencies like single mothers, people of color, and people with disabilities, who already have higher rates of unemployment and underemployment.

This means is that individuals and companies need to keep in mind issues of access and provide resources and tools to help level the playing field for those most impacted.