So keeping in the theme of our our last two blog posts, I'm sure you're all wondering how much does it cost to set up a home office?
Hardware technology for a home office is no longer as restrictive as it once used to be. With telework growing, it is quite clear that the cost of purchasing all necessary equipment is accessible to far more people. So, what might you need and how much will it cost?
- Furniture – whether you use a laptop or desktop, you are going to need a suitable desk and chair. A basic computer desk with storage compartments and a shelf for a keyboard will start from around $130. A sofa chair, dining chair or high chair of a breakfast bar will not be good for posture. A good adjustable office chair starts from around $30
- Internet – you will need access to the internet for telework – a home office simply cannot survive without it. There are a range of deals available in Australia – a typical 70GB monthly package will cost in the region of $50 per month
- Computer – Your most basic piece of equipment. A desktop or laptop will be a matter of personal taste but a laptop will be cheaper and you can carry it around. A desktop may be more comfortable for the extended periods of use. Entry level price $400
- Printer – You may or may not need one of these depending on your work. Multi-function devices (printer, scanner photocopier) are most popular these days. Starting price $150
- Telephone – these are relatively cheap but as a homeworker you may get lots of phone calls so a model with a built in answerphone may be preferable here. Starting price $50
There’s so much freely available technology and no need to invest in expensive packages:
- VOiP – Skype, Jitsi, VSee and Google Hangouts all offer a range of phone and video call options, video conferencing and text based communication (IM). All are suitable for the home worker
- Office software – There’s no need to invest in the latest MS Office package when LibreOffice, OpenOffice and NeoOffice are useful emulators and even use Microsoft formats so you needn’t worry about incompatibility with others
- Sharing –Google Docs and Zoho Docs are both free. Evernote allows you to grab web pages, images, audio clips, to make lists and share them across multiple devices and people instantly
- Multimedia – Paint.Net and GIMP are superb open source versions of Paint Shop and Photoshop
Do you know of any other great free products you can use in the office? Leave us a comment below with all of your ideas, I'd love to hear from you.
Setting up a home office may seem simple, but it is easy to overlook some of the most fundamental requirements that would be second nature when working in an office. Before embarking on working from home you need to make sure that your working environment is safe, comfortable and suitable for your individual needs.
The working conditions of the place where you work can be easily overlooked. The room needs to be light but minimising glare. Working by a window might give you maximum light but it is inadvisable to work in direct sunlight as this will lead to eye strain – as will too much shadow.
Room temperature is also a factor. In an office workplace, an employer is legally obliged to keep a room above a certain temperature. Within your home, you naturally want to be comfortable so do not overlook that a room might be too warm or too cold for you to work effectively.
Both the chair and the desk must be adjustable for personal comfort. People are of different builds and heights and there will be different opinions on personal comfort within the boundaries of what is deemed a healthy environment.
If you are primarily using a laptop, you might need a stand to raise the screen to a more comfortable level; any extended period of use of a laptop will also require a mouse.
It is very important to take (typically 15 minutes out of a two hour period should be spent away from the screen). This does not just mean coffee breaks or lunch breaks, but also the need to mix up tasks within the working day; it is easy for work-from-home employees to lose track of time or to skip these breaks to get a task finished, especially when not conforming to a regular working-day format.
When it comes to laptops, these are designed primarily for short periods of working time. As well as the above mentioned stand and the need for a mouse, you will need to ensure that the table or desk you place it on is suitable. For a laptop especially and because of the potential greater strains on the body, it is necessary to take frequent short breaks away from the computer – this is also vital purely to keep active. It might be a good idea to work your exercise routine into your day. This means that you will need to work out a clear structure to your working day.
Distractions are the major problem with teleworking. You are always tempted to have that lie-in, to meet your friend for coffee, to have an extended lunch break to do household chores, to visit your parents, to check your social media, check your emails… and if you have children then your day is going to have to work around them. What you need is a structure to your working day and week. Make a plan of your weekly tasks, use a database or a spreadsheet to plan how long each task takes and whether they have deadlines.
If you live alone you are going to be working in isolation most of the time. Humans are social creatures and need interaction. Ideally, you could work social plans into your daily pattern. Certainly arrange to meet friends for coffee but set yourself a target of what you are going to achieve before you leave the house, or what you are going to do to “make up the time”. Strike the balance between work and play but do not let distractions consume you.
Is there anything you think I've missed? Leave me a comment below.
Economic downturn and unemployment needn’t be the end of the world. This present economic downturn coupled with the always online connectivity has given some people the perfect opportunity to start freelance careers. Before you consider it, there’s some things you need to about working from home:
- Your working environment is crucial: You need the right desk and comfortable chair, a well-lit room away from everything else where you can focus on your work
- Structure: You are in charge of when you work (often meaning more hours) and take breaks. You are going to need structure – but that structure might change week to week
- Always at work: Your home is your workplace so “taking your work home” is unavoidable. It’s tempting to work weekends and evenings when you are bored and you will need to sometimes, try to do it only when it is necessary
- Your human contact will drop considerably: The working relationships of the office you have become used to will end so it is down to you to make a concerted effort to see friends and family
- Distractions are everywhere: The internet for the latest news, the neighbour who needs your help, your mother checking up on you, your children wanting you to play, the television, the radio, the friend who wants to meet for coffee, the sunshine is so inviting isn’t it?
- Free Technology: It’s everywhere so there’s no need to shell out on expensive software packages. As you start out, you’ll be on a limited budget. Skype and its clones are perfect for IM, phone calls and video conferencing, OpenOffice is a great MS Office clone
- Negotiation is an art: Unless you are working for an agency that will pay a set amount per job, you will come up against people who’ll knock your price down; you’ll be tempted to undersell your skills to secure a good contract. Stand up for what you are worth but be flexible
- Your working philosophy will change: It’s all results now, not hours. You can take Monday and Friday off but you might have to work through the weekend next week. It’s all about how much you achieve
- Communication: Most of your clients will be remote, sometimes hundreds, if not thousands of miles away. Producing high quality work is essential but if you are difficult to get hold of, late with deadlines and rarely answer emails that will affect their opinion of your professionalism
- You are your own boss: Aside from some of those things above, you will reap the rewards of your success but you can also be the agent of your downfall. There’s no passing the buck or turning a job over because “it’s out of my pay grade”
Do you have any tips on working from home? Leave a comment with your best ones below.
To celebrate the launch of Enabled Employment, I'm going to post a few blog articles over the next few weeks with the first one setting the scene of disability in Australia. Some of these facts and figures you won't believe. How is a country as advanced as Australia failing so miserably in empowering and supporting people with a disability?
One in Five People in Australia has a disability which is in the region of 4 million people. Keeping that information in mind, the following facts should be eye-opening:
- There is 54.3% workforce participation for people with a disability compared to 84% for people without a disability. A separate study showed that employment levels were 39.8% and 79.4% respectively
- As recently as 2010, the OECD rated Australia 21st out of 29 countries for employing people with disability – the lowest in the developed world
- Two thirds of people with disabilities are earning less than $320 per week compared to just one third of the general population. As a consequence of that...
- People with disabilities in Australia are more likely to be living in poverty than any other minority group
- Australia recently ranked 27th out of 27 countries for people with disability living on or near the poverty line. The global average is 22%, Australia’s is over double that at 45%
- On average, employees with a disability are less likely to take unscheduled time off, less likely to use sick leave and when in employment, on average stay in a job longer than their non-disabled counterparts
- The unemployment rate in 2009 was: 5.1% for the general population and 7.9% for people with disability – being registered unemployed means those individuals were willing and able to work
- People with mental illness had the lowest employment participation rates than any other disability group: employment participation rate in 2003 was 28.2%. Compare this to statistics at number 1 in this list
- People with mental illness had the highest unemployment rate of any disability group: 19.5%. Compare to statistics at number 7 in this list
- 48% of Complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission concern disability and are made against businesses
Surprised yet? It's pretty shocking isn't it? I'd love to hear what you think about these statisitics, leave a comment below and keep the conversation going.
I can't believe it's here, today is the day that we launch Enabled Employment!
Did you know people with a disability take fewer days off, take less sick leave and stay in jobs longer than other workers? Have you always wanted to employ someone with a disability but thought it was too hard or complicated?
Having a disability is tough, but that doesn’t mean that people with a disability should have fewer choices about where they want to work and what they want to do. Enabled Employment offers people with a disability an opportunity to work in a job they choose, from a location that is the most convenient for them. All of the jobs advertised on Enabled Employment are completely virtual meaning many of the barriers previously faced about getting to the office or needing adjustments to a workspace are erased.
Here at Enabled Employment we take care of everything for you at a fraction of the cost of hiring from another employment agency. Not only will you get a qualified, competent and skilled employee to work for you but you also won't need to worry about all of those pesky things like finding and providing suitable accommodation, administering payroll and superannuation, payroll tax, insurances or contracts, we even provide a collaborative space to track the employees progress on any designated task or even just have a chat on how they are going. Our simplified three-tier wage system also means there are never any surprises, you will always know how much to expect. This means you can spend more time on things that are important to you, like your business.
Signing up with Enabled Employment is free so why not give it a go today? You will be surprised by how easy it is to advertise or apply for that job you have always wanted to do.
Enabled Employment is going to revolutionise the way we look at disability employment, get on board today!