From separate social media accounts for your business to smartphone apps to help with your limited company admin, what technology do you need to work from home successfully?
Technology is one of the main factors that has made it possible for so many limited company contractors and freelancers to work from home today.
Some contractors will rely on tech more than others from day to day, but with HMRC now expecting the vast majority to submit their self-assessment tax returns digitally, and a wealth of freelance opportunities to be found online, a fast and reliable web connection is essential.
But what other technology will you need to work from home on your own? Let's take a look:
A good broadband and Wi-Fi connection
Before you go out and buy a fancy computer, you need to make sure you'll actually be able to use it for what you need to do, and that means ensuring you've got access to a strong broadband connection.
As of the end of 2017, Thinkbroadband estimated that 94.7 per cent of homes and businesses in the UK had been provided with access to superfast broadband, which is classed as an internet connection allowing for download speeds of 30Mbps.
However, if you're based in a more rural part of the UK, you're likely to fall into that 5.3 per cent of properties that is yet to be granted a superfast connection by the government. As a result, you'll need to explore the alternatives available to you, which could include satellite broadband, for example, or finding a way around digital tasks.
If your web connection is consistently slow and you're concerned that this will lead to delays in delivering work to your clients, make sure you're setting realistic expectations. If you're worried that it might take ten days for you to complete an assignment due to your slow internet, tell them it'll take two weeks. Then, when you deliver the work seemingly early, they'll be impressed with your work ethic.
A good spec laptop or tablet
Once your internet connection is sorted, you need to invest in a device that will allow you to communicate with your clients, search for new contractor opportunities and complete your work digitally.
If you're going to be online all day, a desktop computer or laptop would be best, but remember to take regular breaks from the screen to stretch your legs and stop your eyes from becoming strained.
But if you're only going to be logging online occasionally, a portable tablet could be a much better option. You'll still be able to do everything you need to on there, and download all of the apps you might need, such as PayStream's app for My PSC contractors - more on this later.
Professional social media accounts
Social media is great for contractor referrals and recommendations, and for advertising your services as a limited company contractor, but you need to make sure you're keeping your professional and personal life separate online.
According to statistics published by CareerBuilder in 2016, 60 per cent of recruiters regularly screen prospective job candidates' social media profiles to assess their suitability. With this in mind, it's advisable to make your personal accounts as private and secure as possible, and to create separate profiles for your limited company.
Keep these as professional as possible, checking spelling and grammar carefully to give the best possible first impression, and make sure you post regularly, with your business contact details and examples of your work easy to find. Testimonials can help too, so consider asking clients that you have a particularly good relationship for feedback to add to your profile.
Some people think that working from home means you can keep on top of your household chores much more easily, but this isn't always the case. Being your own boss means you can sometimes find yourself with more to do than you'd like, and no one to shoulder the responsibility to.
Therefore, it can be a blessing to have a few extra helping hands, like a slow cooker, which you can add ingredients to at the start of your working day and find a hearty stew or a lovely chilli waiting for you when you clock off for the day, leaving your evening free for activities other than cooking.
It can also be a huge help to have some assistance with your limited company admin, and that's where our app for limited company contractors, comes into play. Downloading our app to your smartphone or tablet allows you to keep on top of your limited company accountancy admin whenever is most convenient for you, allowing you to work towards that perfect work-life balance.
The technology that supports our limited company service, My PSC, allows you to view your limited company finances in real-time and complete your expenses online 24/7. Meanwhile, your team of dedicated accountants are there to ensure you keep on top of your limited company admin along with providing advice regarding your IR35 status, and you’ll also having the chance to receive expert tax advice from our team of in-house tax experts.
Our limited company service My PSC is designed for busy contractors who don't want to spend too long on the administrative side of their limited company after a busy day, allowing them to spend more time on what really matters: delivering a high-quality service to their clients and spending precious time with loved ones.