15 articles Articles posted in Work

Work and Home – Five Ways to Keep Them Separate

How to Separate Home and Work LifePhoto by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

As someone who works from home, I’d be the first to say that there are a lot of pros to the arrangement. I get to work in a familiar environment, Maureen the Pup doesn’t have to be left by herself and I get to dictate my own hours (and eat lunch whenever I want!). However, there are also downsides, and it can be difficult to create separation between home and work life – I say this as I sit here typing on a Sunday afternoon, between cooking dinner and doing loads of laundry!

There are, however, ways to ensure that work and home don’t bleed together – here are a few of them:

Invest in Office Space

This might seem counterproductive if you want the freedom of self-employment, but there are lots of small office spaces where you can work, distraction free, which don’t cost a fortune. Click Offices London guide can help you to find serviced office space in the City, which will fit your budget and help you to look more professional to your clients.

Set Work Hours

I’m very guilty of taking work at a moments notice, which means working at times when I should be with family. Set yourself hours in which you’ll accept work and don’t do anything outside of this. You could even set yourself an out of hours notification for your emails so that clients won’t expect to hear back from you until the next day. It can be daunting, thinking about losing work, but setting parameters like this is good for everyone.

Ditch the Work Phone

For those of us with work phones, consider implementing a ‘no phone’ policy at home. There’s nothing worse than a fun time with the family being spoilt by a call from work about something that could wait till Monday. Of course, there are some exceptions to this but in most cases, the job can wait till you’re on the clock.

Delegate as Much Work as Possible.

If you have others that work with or for you, make sure to assign a reasonable amount of tasks to them, instead of trying to do everything yourself. Give your assistant or team members tasks that are lower on your priority list, but that you can trust them to accomplish. You may also think about assigning tasks or activities that will build and enhance their skills.

Keep Your Social Media Separate

If you’d like to separate your work relationships from your personal ones, it’s a good idea to keep them separate online as well. The easiest way to avoid overlap is to use different social networking sites for different purposes. For example, Twitter and LinkedIn are excellent tools for developing your professional network, whereas Facebook is often better suited to sharing photos and news with your family and close friends. If your business page is linked to your profile, there’s temptation to answer questions doing downtime, but you should try to keep notifications off at weekends, at the very least.

How to Make Your Home Office Feel Secure

Feel Safe in a Secure HomeWorking from home has many advantages, but it can be difficult to separate home from business. If you have an office in your home, you might worry about security, especially if you keep documents containing sensitive information, cash or payment details. With new GDPR rules in place, it’s even more important to protect your client’s information, or you could land yourself a hefty fine. With that in mind, I’ve been thinking about some ways to make your home office feel more secure:

Barriers

Having barriers from Barriers Direct across your driveway might not stop people from coming onto your property, but they’ll give a clear sign that security is on your mind and that you want to keep a line between yourself and the outside world. They also stop people using your driveway as a turning circle, which can be very annoying if you live on a busy main road.

Lights

Exterior lights are proven to be a deterrent to people coming onto your property for nefarious reasons late at night, but they also give you an extra feeling of safety if you come and go when it’s dark. Use a selection of carefully placed lights to give you illumination in all of the areas you’re likely to use, once the sun goes down, for the ultimate feeling of safety, but be mindful of lights which might shine into your bedroom if a cat wanders past!

Get a Dog

While I’m not suggesting you have a team of German Shepherds patrolling your perimeter, dogs can really help to make you feel secure in your home office. When Sausage was a baby, Husband worked nights and having Chuck there made me feel so much safer as he’d let me know if someone so much as breathed in the direction of our home!

Camera ACTION

You’ve probably seen headlines about burglars being foiled by security camera footage. This is one home office security solution that works as both a deterrent and a means to get justice. You can get security cameras that are part of a complete home office security system, or you can use cameras that work on their own. Whichever way you go, we recommend using a security camera with a mobile app, so you can see footage in real time and store it if you ever need to go to the police.

Get a Safe

If you’ve got things in your house which are of serious worth, installing a safe might be a good way to feel more secure about your belongings. Safes can be good for keeping company records and payment information safe, too. If anyone does manage to break into your home office, it will be a lot more difficult for them to steal anything of value, and in a lot of cases, having a safe can make your contents insurance premiums go down. Make sure they’re installed by a reputable company and think about going for a safe which has two separate locking mechanisms for an added layer of security.

What do you do to ensure you feel safe and secure in your home office? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Are You Being Treated Poorly At Work?

Unfortunately, this is a situation that many people find themselves in every day. What’s more, it doesn’t really look as though it is an experience which is in any way abating at all, and in fact it is only going to continue to be a problem as long as the culture doesn’t change. In the meantime, the best thing we can do is to try and ensure that we know what to do as individuals when we are at the hands of mistreatment at work. Part of the problem is not knowing how to respond, because there are just so many kinds of mistreatment that you can’t easily give advice for all situations. However, there are some general rules which are worth following, and which could help you to get out of that situation much more smoothly and easily.

Source – CCO Licence

Report It

The most important thing you can do is to make sure that you report the experience. Whether it happens once or many times, you need to make sure that it is known that it happened. This is something which can be extremely difficult in itself and even, depending on the situation at hand, frightening to do. But if you keep quiet, then it is much less likely that the situation will be resolved, and that the perpetrator will be punished in any way. You need to make sure that you are reporting your mistreatment to the right people, of course, which will depend on the nature of it. Look around for the specifics of your situation and who to go to to report it. This is a vital thing which you can’t overlook.

Claim Compensation

On many occasions, you will be able to claim compensation for what occurs, and that is something that you will definitely want to consider in order to ensure that you are getting what you deserve from the whole scenario. Let’s say that you have been injured, for instance. In that case, you are well within your rights to go to lawyers like Hupy & Abraham and see if you can get some kind of compensation for the experience, and in all likelihood you will be able to. This is not about the money, so much as it is about receiving some kind of apology for what happened at the hands of somebody else. It’s really important that you get what you deserve as best and as soon as you possibly can.

Source – CCO Licence

Encourage Openness

Finally, remember that each individual can do something to make the workplace a little better by being open and honest, and confronting one another about poor behaviour. This is something that you should make a part of your daily interactions with people as best as you can, and if you do that you will find that it really does lead to a considerable change in atmosphere. That in itself will probably mean that fewer people suffer, so it is certainly worth it for that reason.

The Benefits of Co-Working

co-workingNow that both girls are at school, I’ve been thinking a lot about my working arrangements. I love being freelance because of the freedom and flexibility it gives me, but I do miss some of the elements of working in an office. I recently went to a Christmas party thrown by a friend I do some freelance work for and I remembered how much I used to love this time of year, when I worked. It sounds mad, but I always felt more festive when I worked with other people, so I’ve been thinking about looking into co-working spaces.

If you’re not aware, co-working is basically where you rent space in a flexible office where you get all the perks of working in a larger space (i.e. not one end of my living room couch…) without having to rent a whole building.

The benefits of co-working are innumerable – as well as having company during the day, with other professional, focused people, you also have networking opportunities around you, which I doubt you get at home. Many co-working spaces also have conference rooms which you’re allowed to use, making any business meetings you might want to take look SO much more professional.

Something that appeals to me is the fact that in a dedicated office space, I’d have far fewer distractions and would also be able to set proper office hours. If I turn up at nine and leave at five, like most normal working people, it would be a lot easier for me to focus during work hours and disconnect when it’s home time.

Many different co-working options exist, like in these offices to rent Liverpool – just a basic membership will offer free tea and coffee, cleaning, high speed internet, a postal service and the opportunity to use a prestigious business address, rather than your home address. I’ll be honest, the thought of high-speed internet access is enough to make it appeal to me!

I’ll be honest, as much as I like my own company and relish the opportunity to have me-time, I’m also a little bit prone to isolating myself and that’s not always a good thing. Sure, being able to come home after dropping the girls off and work in my slippers with Maureen the Pup next to me might sound great, but it makes it a lot harder to get into a professional mindset and isolation also isn’t great for me when I’m feeling down.

There are SO many benefits to co-working and it’s definitely something I’m going to look further into in the new year. Are you a co-working fan? Do leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Freelancer? Find Out How to Add More Stability to Your Family Finances

If you are working freelance and don’t have a regular set amount of income, balancing the books might be challenging for you. There are some things that you can’t control each month, such as your income, but you can always shop around and wait for larger purchases to make sure that you can afford them without getting into debt. Below you will find a few tips on managing your freelance budget better with a family.

Image via Anete Lūsiņa@anete_lusina

Have Long Term Plans

Most people working as a freelancer tend to live from one month to the next. You will need to focus on your long term financial plans and change your attitude towards money. Whether you would like to save up for a family holiday, save up enough for a deposit or moving house, you have to create a bucket list of things to do with clear deadlines, so you can do things in your business that will help you achieve them.

Stay Flexible

One of the things you need when trying to manage your freelance family finances is flexibility. Not all the bills will be paid on time, and you might have to face delays when dealing with project work. This means that you need to have a flexible budget and allocate money for paying your bills first. If you have funds left over for a weekend away or a day out, you should plan this at the end of the month, but if there isn’t enough, save it up and add it to next month’s budget and plan something bigger,

Save for Holidays and Larger Purchases

Image via rawpixel@rawpixel

As a freelancer, you will need to make sure that you are not stretching too far, as your income for next month is not guaranteed. This means that you have to allocate excess money for larger purchases every month. Have a minimum saving plan to stick to, but if you have a particularly good month, put more toward the savings to have a rainy day fund.

Protect Your Finances

One of the things people forget when starting to work freelance is protecting their finances. It is crucial that you have an income protection for falling ill, as you are likely to lose your source of salary for a while. At the same time, you should ensure that the future of your family is safe, and get in touch with estate planning companies like Fielding Triggs to save money on wills and asset protection.  

Ensure You Get Paid

One of the uncertainties of working as a freelancer is when and whether or not you will get paid. You can eliminate the risks by consulting with a legal company and making your contracts legally unquestionable. Even if you are a freelancer, you will need to get paid for the work you do.

Managing your finances as a freelancer might be challenging. Make sure that you have a detailed financial plan and a rainy day fund, so you can look after your family and your financial future.

Starting Your Own Business as a Stay at Home Mum

Being a stay at home mum can seem like a full-time job. Sometimes, though, you want or need a paying job alongside minding your own children. Luckily, you don’t have to give up being a stay at home mum to have a job.

Instead, you could always try starting your own business as a stay at home mum. You’d be surprised how many options you have when you are trying to choose what business model is best for you. Here, we will look at just 7 options to help you get inspired.

1. Child Care Service

If you don’t mind watching more children than just your own during the day, you could always start a child care service. After all, you already have things that a child around the age of yours or younger would need such as toys or sippy cups so you won’t incur too many starting costs.

You can make a lot of money off of this idea because there are plenty of mums and dads that have to work during the day. With this business model, you aren’t dependent on people making purchases on a whim, you’re serving a necessity.

2. Etsy Store

For those mums who love to craft or sew, something like an Etsy store might be the best option for you. Here, you can sew clothes or craft anything you can think of and sell it to interested persons.

Running a shop is like a running a business. Therefore, branding your Etsy shop is important. Logo, header image, product photography, social media presence, SEO are all important parts of your Etsy marketing strategy. Moreover, when creating your handmade goods, you will want to make sure to add a tag with your own logo or classic printed ribbon to the items you make. This way, they are marked as uniquely yours. This also helps to cut down on someone buying your items to simply resell them as their own handmade items later.

3. Virtual Assistant

A virtual assistant is exactly the same as any other assistant. You would do things like handle phone calls, scheduling, or anything that a standard assistant would do. The major difference is that you do it from a distance. Instead of being at your client’s side all day, you would be in near constant contact with them via phone or the internet and you would take care of the tasks they set out for you.

4. Financial Planning

If you have a knack for numbers, you could also start a business in which you help others work a budget and live the best they can within their means. You’d be surprised at how many families would appreciate a little help planning their finances.

A great idea would be to learn to help others budget for college. After all, this is one of the biggest financial decisions a family has to make and they might see some help planning as a wise investment.

5. Teach Music

For those mums who are interested in music, you could always consider being a teacher for private lessons for the instrument of your choice. Not only is this a great way to make some extra money, you’ll probably get some enjoyment out of it too!

In addition, teaching music will help you to keep your own skills sharp. This is because you will be teaching the basics and the theory behind an instrument to someone else, forcing you to practice these rudimentary skills once again.

6. Pet Boarding

Much like child minding, if you love animals, you could always consider animal boarding as a stay at home business. With this business, you would take in other people’s pets and watch them while the owners are away.

You might want to have some restrictions on the animals you’ll take in, though. For instance, you could only take in trained pets. After all, you don’t want to accidentally allow an aggressive animal into your home when you have children around.

7. Freelance Writing

For those mums with writing as a passion, you could always write from home. This is a job with a lot of open opportunities. Whether you want to dedicate your time to writing novels or articles, there is a market for it.

It might take time with freelance writing, as with the other business ideas on this list, to build up a client base. If you’re patient, though, you will find these business ideas can become quite lucrative.

Working from Home – 5 Things I Love

Working from homeBeing freelance can be a really scary prospect at times; the irregular pay, people taking forever to pay your invoices, lack of sick pay or holiday pay and the isolation are all things which weigh heavily on most people who work for themselves. However, there are some amazing upsides to it all as well (otherwise there wouldn’t be so many people who do it!) so I thought I’d make a list of all of my favourite things about working from home:

Lack of Other People

There are times, usually around Christmas, when I quite miss working in an office because of the lack of Christmas do and general excitement, but then I remember how much I’ve disliked certain colleagues in the past! Having to say a forced “hello” every morning to people I don’t like is something that I really do not miss, nor do I miss that march past the smoking shelter where, despite being a non-smoker, you end up stinking of smoke before you get to your desk. Having said that, if they were all to switch to vaping and use the best e-liquids of 2017, I probably wouldn’t mind it so much!

Flexibility

During the holidays, our routine is usually that we get up, Husband and I spend the morning doing a bit of work, we spend the day with the girls and then we both do some more work in the evening once they’re asleep if we have anything left to do. It means that we get to really dedicate time to the girls during the holidays and still get to carry on earning money. We can also work in other places if we need to; I’ve been known to sit on a park bench uploading work in the past!

Cost

When I met Husband, I was working as a payroll clerk in the NHS, and there were times when it felt like I was spending more money that I earned. Between the travel, needing to buy lunch, the daily scone and coffee run by another staff member, the birthdays that everyone had to chip in for, the expenses really totted up. Working from home means no travel expenses, no temptation for mid-morning pastry and the only birthday I celebrate is my own!

Variety

One thing that I love about freelance writing is the variety in my work, and I think this is actually the main reason that I’ve stuck as it for so long. I’m definitely a “variety is the spice of life” kinda girl, and I do get bored with a strict routine or structure, so this aspect of my work is a massive bonus. One day I can be writing about private education, another about a local shopping centre and the next I’ll be writing about high-end beauty products. It keeps my brain ticking and stops me ever getting bored.

Weather

When I worked in an office, the weather always had an impact on my mood. If it was cold or wet, I dreaded the commute and spent all day wishing I was at home, and on sunny days I’d spend the days wistfully looking out of the window dreaming of being outdoors. These days, I don’t have to leave the house (other than school runs) if the weather is rubbish and on lovely days, I can work from the garden if I want to.

Do you work from home? Are there things you love about it that I haven’t listed here? Leave me a comment below.

How Office Layouts Can Affect Your Productivity

When it comes to being productive, I definitely need some help; working for myself whilst caring for a toddler (and an 8 year old…and a 37 year old Husband…!) means that my actual work space is pretty ad-hoc. I use a laptop and tend to use it wherever I can so that Burrito Baby can watch TV or play with her toys, which means that my “office” has been everything from our lounge, the car or even outside on the garden bench whilst the kids are on the trampoline!

What I didn’t know (or maybe just didn’t occur to me, as it makes total sense) is that office layout can affect your productivity and how you arrange a meeting room can also affect how meetings go (see this infographic from jason.l with recommended layouts for meeting rooms). I don’t currently have meetings at home but I do have the occasional Skype or Hangout meeting and having a proper space to conduct these in would be really useful.

The irony is, we DO actually have an office space in our house, I just never use it! Husband has his PC set up in there and our wardrobes and clothes storage are also in there, so it’s a kind of office/dressing room, but everything in there is pretty neutral so it would be ideal for vlogging/Skype. Burrito Baby is starting nursery in September and this will give me the chance to start working at a proper desk and keeping everything I need on one place, rather than searching for my laptop charger every time I get a low battery notification!

I’m looking forward to seeing how this will affect my own productivity. It’s literally been years since I worked at a proper desk with a pen pot and a coaster for my coffee and I’m almost worried that the change from working on a sofa will be TOO different and will actually distract me! I’m so used to all of my work being done with Paw Patrol or Bob’s Burgers playing the the background that working in silence might be too weird – it might be time to invest in a radio!

Do you have a dedicated working space set up at home? Do you actually use it or do you find yourself working on a laptop wherever you can? Have you put a lot of time and effeort into nsuring you have the perfect working space? I’d love to hear from you and see links to posts about your own office so please do leave me a comment below.

Work Rights All Women Need to Know

Protecting yourself at work is something that everyone needs to do. However, it can be even more important for parents because you have a family to support. You need to be aware of your legal rights at any time, but when you’re a parent, you often need to take certain factors into consideration. Parenting can require you to leave work suddenly or need to take time off, among other things. All mums and mums-to-be should be aware of their rights at work, and so should dads. Here are some of the rights you have that you should be familiar with.

Office Business Woman Entrepreneur Notepad Notes

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General Working Rights

There are plenty of working rights that apply to everyone, but that are especially relevant to women. Women are more likely to work on a “zero-hours contract” – 52% of people on zero-hours contracts are women. Women are also much more likely than men to work part-time – nearly three-quarters of part-time workers are women. Because some working rights are affected by the hours you work, such as statutory holiday time, it’s important to be aware of which rights you have. For example, for each day you work in a week, you are entitled to 5.6 days of paid holiday if you’re a permanent employee.

Discrimination

Anyone can be discriminated against in the workplace due to their gender, age, race or ethnicity, disability, religion, or marital status. The 2010 Equality Act is an important piece of legislation to be aware of if you want to know how to spot and combat discrimination at work. The law bans discrimination based on a number of factors in the workplace and during the recruitment process. Women should also be aware that discrimination due to pregnancy is illegal, and that potential employers can’t ask about pregnancy during interviews. Discrimination can be direct or indirect, as well as including harassment and victimisation.

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Maternity and Parental Rights

It’s also important to know about the law surrounding maternity and parenting. Maternity leave and maternity pay are both required under the law for employees counted as workers. This doesn’t include agency workers, casual workers, or anyone on a zero-hours contract. Your statutory maternity leave rights include up to a year’s leave. You must take at least two weeks off, or four if you work in a factory. If your average pay before tax is more than £113 a week, your employee must pay you maternity pay. You might get contractual maternity pay instead, or possibly maternity allowance if you can’t get maternity pay.

Flexible Working Rights

Flexible working is also a common choice for parents. It includes any changes to your normal working hours, including flexitime, working from home, or job sharing. Many mums choose flexible working because it makes parenting and working more manageable. You might be entitled to make a statutory request for flexible working, which must be negotiated using a certain process under the law. You need to be an employee who has worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks.

You should always be knowledgeable about your rights at work. Keep up to date with any changes so that you know what challenges you might face.

Juggling Your Busy Life: Top Tools and Strategies for Work at Home Mums

Work at home mums must juggle it all; from child care and housework to cooking and working. To make life a little easier, Android have developed a number of apps for mums who are always on the go. Check out these ideas to help you manage your time and minimize your stress.

Keep up With the Weather

When you’re working with a tight schedule, it’s important to know what the weather’s going to be like, so you don’t get caught out in a storm when all you want is an hour in the park with the kids. This versatile app will give you a weather report at a glance, wherever you are in the world and an accurate 7-day forecast. As well as the temperature, it will also tell you air pressure and precipitation, wind speed and direction, sunrise and sunset times and weather radar. Learn more about this great app.

So you Don’t Forget

Little reminders help busy mums stay on top of things. Widget Notes Whiteboard is a great note taking app. Use it for shopping lists, things to do lists, reminders, and memos. It’s really easy to add notes to your home screen. The app has three board colors and three widget sizes.

Take Time Out

Busy mums need to take some time out to relax even if it’s only five minutes every day. The Buddhist Meditation Trainer is your personal trainer for meditation and relaxation. With ten levels of enlightenment and quotes to meditate on every level, you can begin straight away, with just 5 minutes per day. After ten days, you will gain a level of further enlightenment. You can set a daily reminder so you won’t forget to meditate.

Great Family Meals

Favorite Recipes is a great pocket cookbook with thousands of recipes, so you can easily plan your weekly meals. You can search recipes, save your favorites and submit your own recipes. Each meal has directions so cooking couldn’t be easier or more fun. You can also share recipes on Facebook or Twitter.

Keep Track of Bills

From the Creators of Quickbooks, Mint Bills is the easiest way to keep up with bills and have on-hand records of all your payments. You can also monitor your bank accounts and credit cards all in the same place. This is a great way to keep your budget in check so you never have to stress about missing a bill payment. Armed with the same encryption and security standards as your bank, the app is completely safe to use. QuickBooks can be handy tool for keeping an track of expenses, QuickBooks Enterprise hosting on a Citrix Xendesktop VDI can help you catch up with your finance records remotely from any device.

Stay Fit

Don’t have time to exercise? Try the 7 Minute Workout. Designed for busy mums like you, this app has a highintensity interval training workout that will get your heart pumping. It is comprised of 12 exercises and all you need to get in shape is a chair and a wall.

Using these apps will boost your productivity and save you time when you’re keeping up with you home office and your family.

Emily Rickard started her own business from home 2 years ago. She has 2 young kids and enjoys the freedom her own business allows her, even when it does get crazy busy!