Ask 1099 Mom: Do I Need an Office to Work from Home?

 (Photo by schrierc via Flickr

This is one of the most commonly asked questions by Moms who want to work from home.  The short answer, in most cases, is "no."  But there are exceptions.
First, let's look at why you want an office of your own.  Some of the best reasons for shutting yourself off from the rest of the house (and world) could include:
  • You need a quiet place to work, undistracted
  • You want to claim a home office deduction on your taxes (more on that later)
  • You need to keep valuable inventory or supplies away from family members who could lose or destroy them
  • You need to keep some aspect of your work private
  • You like the idea of having something "all your own"
Some of these reasons are valid, and might warrant getting your own room in the home (or at least a converted walk-in-closet.)  Others aren't as important and might not be enough to launch a full-scale renovation or claiming one of your children's bedrooms.

For the most part, Moms find that they can co-exist in the corner of a larger, shared room with the rest of the family.  My office is currently in the corner of our family room, and while there are days that I wish I could have a space all my own, I enjoy being able to keep my eye on the kids and feel included in their day-to-day activities -- even while I'm at work.  Family/work balance is more than just devoting equal time to both endeavors;  sometimes it's more about meshing the two.

I will add that some work-at-home jobs may REQUIRE you to have your own office.  Jobs that have you on the phone may need you to have a quiet setting most all of the time.  Craft businesses that use dangerous or delicate materials will obviously need to be done far away from where the kids play.  These are unique circumstances, however, and most Moms find that (at least initially), it's not necessary to get a separate room as an office in order to launch their business.

Start small, be realistic, and remember:  as your business grows, so can your office options.  That kitchen nook that worked so well your first year may not be enough in your fifth year.  You can always upgrade later.

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