JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Naked ambition: baring all for small business

Date
Daring to bare ... Flying Solo editor Jodie McLeod and founder Robert Gerrish.

Daring to bare ... Flying Solo editor Jodie McLeod and founder Robert Gerrish. Photo: Supplied

Today is officially Work in the Nude Day 2012 in Australia. Admittedly, this isn't an international day initiated by the likes of the United Nations or the International Entrepreneurs Association. Instead, it's a decree from the national micro-business community Flying Solo. This is a tongue-in-cheek nod to the freedom and flexibility of working from home, or at least outside the confines of a corporate cubicle.

Gerrish says: "We hope to attract the attention of the many thousands of home-based businesses who may be ... in search of an active, friendly bunch of like-minded people." 

Robert Gerrish founded Flying Solo in 2005. According to the organisation's research report Understanding micro business 2012-2013, one of the main reasons people start their own business is because of the flexibility of working from home. According to Gerrish, solo and micro businesses account for more than 90 per cent of Australian small businesses, with more than 70 per cent working from a home base.  

Indeed, "working from home" has lost much of the stigma it once carried. For some people, having a home office once implied that you couldn't afford a separate office, you didn't really take your business seriously, or you didn't have a professional approach to business.

Gerrish says: "There was a slight stigma, largely unfounded and often exaggerated by those who benefit from putting the frighteners on small business – consultants, institutions and the like. Happily times have changed, and largely through advances in technology and the growing voice of small business I think the secret is out.

"Today governments and corporates converse differently with the micro business sector and have got the message that working from home and staying small is a choice and not a failure to grow."

Despite the evolution of attitudes towards working from home, the reality is that while flexibility might be wonderful, you still need boundaries to ensure a certain level of professionalism and productivity. As someone who has worked from home in various stints over the past 13 years, here are my top tips.

1. Get out of your pyjamas immediately

Smoko time, sans clobber. Click for more photos

Buff businesses

A collection of brave souls have stripped off for Flying Solo's Work in the Nude Day. For more pictures check Flying Solo's Facebook site. 

This might seem like a no-brainer but I do know several work-from-homers who love lolling about in their dressing gown until midday. I would also hazard a guess that they are not productive until midday. Changing out of your pyjamas and into your "work clothes" helps you shift mentally into "work mode".

2. Advise well-meaning friends of your work hours

When I first started working from home, I had a nearby friend who would regularly drop in for coffee. At first, I thought this was great. My hours were flexible so I relished the idea of not having to stick to office hours imposed on me by a big employer. However, these drop-ins played havoc with my schedule and productivity. Just because you work from home doesn't mean that you should make yourself available any time someone wants to share a latte with you. Set boundaries with your hours and advise your friends when you're working.

3. Who is the voice on your answering machine?

You might think it's cute that it's your three-year-old's voice on the outgoing message of your answering machine or voicemail but your prospective clients and associates may not. If you're using your phone line for business purposes, make sure that it sounds professional when it's picked up.

4. Get off the dining room table

If you're still in the early throes of your business, you might be working off the dining room table or kitchen bench. Migrate immediately to a dedicated space. Ideally, you can turn your spare room into an office. If you don't have this luxury, carve out a dedicated space in your hallway or corner of the lounge room. Again, it's a mindshift that will help you get into the right headspace for work. It's also a signal to the rest of your family that you shouldn't be disturbed.

5. Too much information

I've called people who work from home and have been regaled with stories about their children's bowel movements. Some of these movements have occurred while I've been on the phone with them. Not necessary. Just because you work from home doesn't mean you shouldn't have a filter on what you discuss with people in a professional phone call. Turn your filter on.

6. Get out of the house

Working from home can be an isolating experience. If you find you need some contact with humans over the age of 10 from time to time, ensure that you set appointments for yourself so that you can get a fix of real life interaction. Even if this means heading to your local cafe for an hour during the day, it will help you avoid cabin fever.

While there is no doubt that Work in the Nude Day is a fun gimmick, Gerrish says: "We hope to attract the attention of the many thousands of home-based businesses who may be feeling isolated, overwhelmed and in search of an active, friendly bunch of like-minded people."

Indeed, the Work in the Nude Facebook page already has a number of solopreneurs posting pictures of themselves practising for today's day of solidarity.

I asked Gerrish if he will be working in the nude. His response: "Of course! Not for the entire day. I have a busy building site next door and the workers are frisky enough as it is! But I certainly plan to take my morning coffee sans clothes."

Are you planning on participating in Work in the Nude Day? What are your top tips for working from home?

twitter Follow Valerie Khoo on Twitter  @valeriekhoo

21 comments

  • Thank God parliment has finished for the year

    Commenter
    greg
    Date and time
    December 07, 2012, 9:56AM
    • Indeed! :-O

      Commenter
      SteveC
      Location
      Mascot
      Date and time
      December 07, 2012, 10:31AM
  • But Valerie, are you nuding up today? Surely you can join the fun since you work in the privacy of home. If you do, photos or it never happened.

    Commenter
    rudy
    Date and time
    December 07, 2012, 10:15AM
    • Thank god that our cricketers have not read this article!

      Commenter
      Jos
      Location
      Lilydale
      Date and time
      December 07, 2012, 10:24AM
      • Good tips, Valerie. One thing worth mentioning regarding "getting of the dining room table" - if you have a dedicated "office space" you may be able to claim it on tax. For example, my "office" (a spare bedroom) is roughly 10 percent of the house, so I can claim 10 percent of my rent as a business expense. It's a bit different with a mortgage, but the ATO have a downloadable guide available to explain how it works.

        Commenter
        SteveC
        Location
        Mascot
        Date and time
        December 07, 2012, 10:29AM
        • @SteveC

          I'm a tax agent and while claiming 10% of the rent for a home that is used as the base for a business may be claimed same might not be said for someone working from home and earning a salary. Mortgage and ownership costs arent relevant - Its either a place for business or its not. So it can bite a home owner too (10% Capital Gains??). Just cause its rented doesnt make it deductible. See its not a place of business. Just a place where business is being conducted...No deduction for rent or ownership costs, food, water etc. Ditto someone travelling to work cant claim transport fares either. Claiming 34cents a hour for electricity and depreciation, intenet phone calls etc might be as good as it gets.

          Commenter
          Paul
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          December 07, 2012, 4:11PM
      • Hey good to know others joining me today in taking a decent approach to casual Fridays.

        Commenter
        working naturally
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        December 07, 2012, 10:49AM
        • I couldn't be bothered to read the article just the headline. I've got a 1pm with my boss, boy is she in for a surprise!

          Commenter
          The Frood
          Date and time
          December 07, 2012, 12:49PM
          • I'm working from home and I HATE it. I think the push to Virtual Work is bollocks. One of those stupid things that is actually and decreases your productivity enormously. I hate the way there is no beginning or end to my day. Home feels like a prison now not my beautiful refuge. I'm planning to get away from this way of working as soon as is humanly possible.

            Commenter
            Annabelle
            Date and time
            December 07, 2012, 1:37PM
            • I agree, ditch the grubby gym gear and pjs. I dress as if I were going out for a casual meeting - not suit exactly, but dress and nice shoes, or shirt and jeans. Then when courier comes to the door, or client advises they are in the neighbourhood, can I meet for a coffee to discuss a new project, I literally take 10 mins to get ready - brush hair, dab of lippy, clean teeth, alarm on and out the door! It's better for your self-esteem too. As for work taking over, that has happened to me, for the past 10 years. Now, I resolve to schedule pilates, manicure, that latte with a friend or my mum as if they were meetings that HAVE to be worked in. Otherwise I work from dawn to dusk with no pause. That's the downside of working from home. They always find you and know you're at your desk, or 3m away from it!

              Commenter
              jb
              Location
              gc
              Date and time
              December 07, 2012, 1:49PM

              More comments

              Comments are now closed
              Featured advertisers
              Small Biz newsletter signup

              Small Biz newsletter signup Small Biz news delivered to your inbox twice-weekly.

              Sign up now