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Do you plan to work from Home

Over the past few months, with increased working from home in many industries and sectors, that traditionally have been office based, it has turned the whole idea of office v home debate on its head, with many employers and employees now seeing the benefits. Also, the impact of this virus has caused many redundancies and for many this may be an opportunity to start working for yourself, so if you are just sitting down and writing a business plan for a business that will be based from your own home, here are few things you will need to consider in regards to your business address and how it will be used.
  • If you are in rented accommodation, first check your tenancy agreement – most do not allow you to set up a business or run a business from the address. If you live in social housing there has been a freeing up of the restrictions over the years, but private landlords still discourage it.
  • Is it the right image? - If you live in a flat or apartment, the address may not look professional and give your customers an incorrect impression. You want to be able to present the right image for your business and brand to your customers and suppliers. Having Suite, flat, apartment or no 4b etc in your address may not instill confidence in your business from the start.
  •  If you want to work from home and are selling a product, you will have to consider what you will do with any returns. Your products may be returned by the Royal Mail or any number of courier or logistic companies, all of which can turn up at any time. So you may find yourself constantly tracking parcels and waiting in the house for items to arrive back.
  • Who do need to tell? - You should also find out if you need to inform the mortgage company, as it may be in your terms that they must be informed of any change of use (this may not affect your repayments but they may need to know) and you should also contact your home insurance provider (especially if you are holding stock in your house and business IT equipment) to ensure that you have the right cover in place. Public Liability insurance may also be required, if you have members of the public turning up to your house.
  • Planning Permission - Will your business affect your neighbours in any way – will there be additional noise from workshops, traffic from suppliers or customers to your house dropping off supplies or collecting orders or if you planning on baking, will there be any additional smells. If any of these affect your neighbours, you may be required to get planning permission, it is always worth checking with your local planning office. If you just want an office in your house, you are very unlikely to affect your neighbours in any way. If you are unsure, you could always discuss what you plan to do with them.
  • Business Rates - Consider if part of your house will be solely for non-domestic use – if so, you may be liable to pay business rates. 
  • Meeting customers and suppliers – there may be occasion where customers and suppliers may wish to meet you or contact you, and you may not wish to meet suppliers at your home.
  • Your address online - if selling products online, you are required by the legislation to give customers a contact address - using your home address means that this address will be available to the general public – something you may not want, especially if you are dealing with a disgruntled customer....

There are many pro's to starting a business from home, especially the commute time and travel expense savings but you need to consider all the above.

There is one service available that can assist you will many of these. You could use a mail forwarding service, which will provide you with a mailing address and therefore bypass any issues you may face with not being able to use your rented accommodation for a business.

It will also give you a more professional image and the experienced staff will be able to deal with any returned items, as they have staffed during business hours they are able to sign for any packages (so you don’t have to wait in – expecting a package to turn up), and they can either forward them in batches to you or if you live local you can pick them up once or twice a week. Many forwarding services will email you when packages arrive and let you know where the package has come from.

A virtual office, can also provide you with a meeting room to hold customer or supplier meetings- (with current meeting indoor restrictions, and the prevalence of zoom meetings etc having access to a meeting room may not always be necessary), and by using their address online – you do not have to publicise your home address on internet directories, Google Maps or public records.

Use a licenced Provider
There are many providers offering these services and those that are licenced by HMRC to offer mailing address will ask you to provide identification to open an account - you would need to provide a copy of your driving licence/passport and proof of your current address and if you are starting as a limited company - your certificate of incorporation.

The price varies depending on the location and the services you require, the more "prestigious" business centres monthly fees can be high, so you need to consider if the location of the office is important to your customers. If not, it doesn't matter where the virtual office is located. When comparing costs, make sure you are aware of any additional costs  i.e. do they charge to sign for packages, additional handling fees for forwarding the mail.

If you have any questions please contact us and we are more than happy to answer them.

Updated - 13th Oct 2020