If you work from home, one of the most important things that you can do is to make sure that your clients are as comfortable in your home office as they would be in a traditional office setting.
There are several distinct advantages to working from home. First on this list would be the money you save on things like rent and commuting. However, in order to make clients feel at-ease in your home office, there are a few important steps you need to take:
1. Create a barrier. Clients should not be able to see other parts of your home from your office. If you don’t have a separate room for your office, consider a room divider such as a folding screen. If possible you also should try to keep your office near the front door of your home so clients don’t have to walk through your entire house to get to your office.
2. Choose business décor. If you own a tax preparation business, for example, a bookcase filled with tax-related journals and manuals is a good way to make clients feel that they are in tax-setting instead of someone’s home.
3. Don’t ignore strong smells. Just like in a traditional office setting, you want to avoid strong odors. If you are a smoker, you may want to smoke outdoors, avoid cooking during office hours and keep pets in a separate area of the house while clients visit.
4. Dress the part. Always remember that during office hours you are not hanging out at home but are working from home. If you dress too casually it sends a message that you are not professional. While you don’t have to don a business suit, it is important to dress in business-casual attire. And always wear shoes!
5. Keep personal items at a minimum. Even more so than in a traditional office setting, make sure your office doesn’t feel too causal. Since your office is in your home, clients already will feel as if they know some personal information about you (where you live, for one thing) so try not to distract them with too many personal items.
6. Maintain reasonable office hours. While it is true that you are technically in the office on nights and weekends, that doesn’t mean clients should feel free to drop in or make appointments at all hours. While it is fine to have evening hours one night a week or on Saturday mornings, for example, it is important to maintain regular business hours.