Working from Home in Edmonds
In the last year, the daily commute to the office became much shorter for many as thousands of office workers transitioned from going into to their place of work to working from home. It’s estimated that nearly half of the workforce in America moved to working remotely at some point in 2020, hitting a high of 70% in April of last year.
Now, a year into the pandemic, many companies are looking at incorporating remote work as a long-term solution as employees have stayed productive and say they like the work/life balance that working from home provides.
In addition to that, many displaced or furloughed workers ventured into freelance/contract gigs or took the plunge into starting their own small businesses from home in the past year.
All of this means that creating a workable office space in your home—or away from your company office—has become a priority. We have rounded up some resources in Edmonds to assist in that effort!
Get Your Tech Needs Taken Care of
While some companies provide remote employees with corporate IT assistance remotely, many at home workers and small businesses may find themselves in need of some tech support that fits their specific needs.
Sound IT Solutions in Edmonds offers a host of tech solutions to keep your home office running with their Managed IT plans. They offer a spectrum of services from hardware/software repair, remote/phone support, data recovery, and security help to name a few. Businesses can choose a membership plan that fits their needs – from occasional “break and fix” support to a VIP level of priority support with a full suite of ongoing services. They can also be called on for non-member services, too (although members do receive priority in the service queue).
As stated on their website, engaging Sound IT gives you “one less department to worry about” and allows you to focus on your business and not your IT issues.
Finding a spot for your at-home office can be an exercise in creativity. The terms “cloffice” aka an office in a closet and “garoffice” aka an office in a garage have become familiar in the last year. Setting up with your laptop on the couch or at the dining room table may have worked for an ad hoc short-term solution, but if working from home is now in your long-range view, creating a dedicated spot is a must.
Experts agree that having a space that is used solely for work creates a stronger boundary between work life and home life, because it’s easy for those lines to get blurred and focus to suffer as a result—even if that spot is set up in a common space shared with other household members. One business coach we chatted with even suggests posting a sign of open/closed hours to indicate when you are in work mode.
Once you have determined your work “spot” and have found a solid solution for a desk and chair (don’t underestimate the value of investing in a good chair!), making your home office a pleasant environment is your next step.
Shelves and bins for organization are a priority. Bins and baskets are great for work spaces in shared common areas so you can stash your work things in a convenient spot when the work day is done. A colorful throw pillow or blanket make your space more comfortable. And using pretty vases or even glassware for pen cups and supply holders are creative ways to personalize and pretty up your home office.
For those ubiquitous Zoom meetings, think about your background. A collage of framed prints or interesting wall art piece makes a nice backdrop. You could even hang a pretty curtain or patterned tablecloth behind you to create a colorful background.
Investigate Your Insurance Needs
Depending on the type of work you perform, you might want to investigate any insurance coverage you may need – particularly if you have clients visiting you in your home office. One mistake people inadvertently make is thinking their home or renter’s coverage also covers business activities.
Trevor Campbell from Insurance Services Group shared this advice when it comes to insurance when working from home “If other people come to your home for business purposes, you will want to have some general liability coverage. Oftentimes an employer’s policy can provide coverage, so first check with your employer to see if their coverage extends to employees working from home. If you are a business owner and are working from home you will want liability coverage as well as property coverage to provide for business owned property.”
Another important thing to note is the coverage you may need if your home office is set up in a structure like your garage or a detached shed. “If you are using another structure like a garage or a ‘she-shed’ for business purposes, your homeowner policy likely excludes coverage for that other structure. I recommend calling a broker to help talk through your options to make sure your personal and business insurance are working together,” Campbell advises.
Insurance Services Group in Edmonds is a one-stop shop for all of your business insurance needs and their expert agents can give you a free consult on what coverage makes the most sense for you. They work directly with over 30 insurance companies to find the best rates and coverage for you. You can request a free quote right on their website.
A Workspace Away from Home
There may be times that working at your actual home is just too chaotic or you desire a more formal “office” environment…or maybe you need a conference room for a client meeting that isn’t a coffee shop.
Workhorse HQ is your solution! They have what is called a “co-working” space right in downtown Edmonds. Co-working spaces, if you aren’t familiar, are set up as offices that people can rent. They have become a popular solution for solopreneurs who crave an escape from the isolation of working alone at home. They are also popular now for remote workers who have home situations that aren’t conducive to productivity.
Workhorse HQ offers varied membership types where you can opt to pop in occasionally to utilize a desk space or conference table or make it your daily “office”. There is also an option to use Workhorse HQ as your office address along with a virtual receptionist.
They provide amenities like super-fast WI-FI, large whiteboards in the meeting rooms, coffee (plus cold brew, beer, and kombucha!), an aesthetically pleasing workspace, and it’s even dog-friendly!
Know Your Taxes
Tax rules can be complicated, and let’s face it, sometimes not fun to stay on top of. However, a bit of good news is that the IRS is allowing a temporary 100% write-off on dining out.
This new development for 2021 is the ability to temporarily deduct 100% of food and beverage expenses. The old deduction was 50% but due to the pandemic, the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 bumped that up to a 100% deduction through December 31, 2022.
Just know the rules—this deduction works when the business owner or an employee visits an establishment that provides food and beverages for immediate consumption onsite or off-site (grocery and convenience stores with pre-packaged food don’t count) and the expense isn’t considered “lavish or extravagant”. The full details of this new deduction can be found here: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-21-25.pdf
For new business owners who are just beginning to navigate business taxes, McDevitt & Duffy offer what they call a business “coaching” consultation.
Nancy Duffy says, “New entrepreneurs have fantastic business ideas—but need help with the federal and state ‘tax maze’. All of these entrepreneurs want to do everything correctly, but they don’t have a playbook.” A consulting session provides a new business owner with a variety of tools and information, like planning for bookkeeping, organizing records, and what their future tax liability might look like. Because as Nancy said, “you can’t do what you don’t know.”
Printing, Copying, and Laminating—Oh My!
One of the perks of working in a big office are the nice color laser printers, high speed copiers, and fancy gadgets like laminating machines and big paper cutters. Unless you have a big budget (and the space) to recreate a corporate print shop at home, it can be a struggle to know where to go for those services.
Luckily downtown Edmonds has a full-service print shop called The Branding Iron that offers all of these services to small businesses and solopreneurs with great pricing and fast turnaround times. They can even help you with your graphic and web design needs if that’s something you are struggling with as well. They are located in the Harbor Square complex and are open Monday through Saturday.
For more information about all the wonderful local businesses in downtown Edmonds, please visit http://edmondsdowntown.org/.
By Kelsey Foster, photos by Matt Hulbert