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Working from home?

Working in the comfort of your cosy home is worth it if you observe a few rules.

YOU ALWAYS wanted to start your own business and become self-reliant. Most probably, you have decided to use that extra room in your home as office space.

This decision was easily made because it makes economic sense to keep a tight rein on the fixed costs.You bought an office desk, an executive chair, a computer, file cabinets and other paraphernalia to give the space a true office look. You got an additional phone line installed so that you and your potential clients don't have to compete with "junior" for the telephone line. You are all set for business - at least that is what you thought until the doorbell rings on a Sunday morning at 9 a.m. and a prospective client is waiting to see you!

You like to sleep in on Sunday morning; you are not dressed, family members are lolling about the place in their night-clothes with coffee and the Sunday newspaper spread all over the place.

The house is far from tidy... you are just not ready for the world.

It is very embarrassing and you had to re-schedule another appointment to accommodate this client. Then and there, you decide to make a list of all the other crucial things you should be considering so that something like this will never happen again.

Office hours: Let your clients know your office hours so that they know when you are available. It might be a good idea to post it on the gate. Do not mix business and private hours.Answering machine: Use an answering machine so that your clients can reach you all the time.

The announcement should give specific information about office hours.

Separate entrance: Try to have a separate entrance, and if that is not possible, use a room divider to visually separate your office space from the rest of your home.

Wear business clothes: Even though you are at home, business is business. Make sure that your appearance is as impeccable as if you were working in an office outside of your home.Separate accounting: Don't mix business and private monies.

Keep your surroundings clean: This gives a good impression and shows your professionalism as well as your eye for detail.

Creating confidence: Let your clients know that you are good in your field and, because of the size of your company, flexible with delivery dates and are willing to work close with your clients to fulfil their requirements.

Do not mix business with pleasure: Do not get too friendly with your clients. Professional distance will keep the business relationship going long-term.Do not eat at your desk: Show respect for your work environment. An office desk is for work, a dining table for eating.

Organise your household:

* Tell your family members, especially children, about your working hours and that they have to abide by it.

* Give instructions to your maids and cook before you enter the office.* Make sure everyone is aware that they should keep their voices down to a normal decibel level.

* Train the household members not to barge in during business hours.

CHITRA S. DANGER

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