There are numerous reasons why it’s profitable and pragmatic to run your small business from a home office, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.1 Fewer expenses, flexible hours, and proximity to family are among the many reasons it’s convenient to combine business with pleasure.
You may be one of the millions who have successfully launched a startup from home, and you may have seen your business grow. You may have decided it’s time to hire additional employees and transform your cozy team of one into a dynamic duo (or trio, or quartet …).
But, as candidates interview on your back porch after driving through your residential neighborhood, their eyes show uncertainty. For you, the combination of professional and domestic lives is a no-brainer. For others, it’s cause for hesitation.
So, how do you hire for a home-based office?
Make it clear that your office is in your home.
Provide full disclosure in your advertisement prior to the interview about the size of the office space in your home, any untraditional hours, and your house’s typical state of chaos.
You’ll be more likely to find a candidate with the necessary credentials and character for your home-based business if you inform prospects ahead of time.
Realize that some candidates may prefer a more formal office environment—with a mailroom not a mailbox, a coffee shop instead of a coffee pot, or meetings in a conference room instead of in your dining room.
Try not to take rejection personally. The right fit for your workplace is a person whom you trust in your home—and who enjoys being there.
Don’t hide the realities that come with your home office.
Does your 6-year-old get home from school at noon on Wednesdays? Does your dog have unfettered access to the office area of the house?
When advertising for a position in your home-based office, be direct about what candidates should expect. Don’t organize a formal interview if you typically spend half your workday in socks.
It’s especially important that job candidates understand the idiosyncrasies of your work setting. It’s possible that quirks will turn into perks, because your future employee may have children, pets, or peculiar obligations of her own.
Establish a separate office space.
Be wary of the “reverse interview.” While you’re examining the qualifications of a job candidate, she’s assessing the work environment of your home.
Legally, there are three requirements2 for home-office tax deductions, according to The Entrepreneurs’ Help Page:
- The home office must be the primary place of business for your business,
- Your home must have a separately identifiable place for the business, and
- The space set aside for work must be regularly and exclusively used for business.
Potential employees may be more interested in the practical reasons for having a separate office space. For example, to perform her job effectively, your new employee will want adequate elbow room and equipment.
In addition, the office space in your home should be noticeably free of distractions and personal items such as children’s toys.
In addition to establishing a separate office space, don’t give your family members access to the office during business hours. Communicate to your children and spouse that the office space is off limits on weekdays. Future employees will be more impressed to see the office computer being used for work-related activities instead of watching iCarly videos.
Lighten up when interviewing candidates. Ask questions to reveal the working styles of your potential employees.
“The close quarters of a home office can be stifling, and there are no other employees around that your worker can vent to. So figure out how to keep the mood light and learn to laugh about life’s daily little annoyances,” Tom Candee wrote for Entrepreneur.3
Take advantage of the many fun, freeing reasons you started a home-based business in the first place. And, don’t forget to demonstrate these founding principles to potential future employees.
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