Cool Home Offices To Inspire You

The right home office can inspire you to work harder, or keep you from working at all. It all depends on where you set up your home office, how you furnish it, and whether the space fits your needs. Recently, ODDEE featured 10 cool home offices that prove a little creativity can go a long way. Here are two of my favorites:

Beach office

                     The Beach Home Office

 

simple before:after office

                     The Backyard Home Office

 

Ways To Stay Safe While Looking For Online Jobs

FlexJobsGoogle the words “legitimate work from home jobs” and you’ll find around 4 million listings. Some of the listings truly are legitimate, but others are clearly scams. Sara Sutton Fell’s business, FlexJobs, is one of the exceptions. FlexJobs offers legitimate work from home jobs — every company is screened carefully before any of its jobs are posted — that can be done from home.

FlexJobs has had to overcome a few misconceptions (I admit I had a few doubts), thanks to less-than-honest scam artists out there who are ready to cheat anyone. Fell offers a few questions to make it easier to tell whether an online placement company is legitimate or not.

  • How much information do they provide up-front? Any company that has you sign up or provide personal contact information before giving you comprehensive details on what you are actually signing up for is a big red flag.
  • Do the words “evasive” or “sketchy” come to mind when you look at their site and read the information? If there is anything that gives you a gut reaction causing you to wonder if it’s legitimate, that’s a red flag.
  • Does the site provide contact information, including an address? If there’s a contact form, use it to try to talk with someone to ask some questions before signing up, or if there’s a number, try calling it. If you can’t reach a company as a prospective client, you will NEVER be able to reach them as a dissatisfied one.
  • Check with the BBB, IC3.gov (the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership including the FBI), and even google. Google the company name with the word “scam” and see what comes up.

Not only does FlexJobs offer legitimate jobs, they have a blog filled with helpful articles including How to Find a Real Online Job (and avoid the scams!).

Happy (online) hunting!

Cutting-Edge Tech Tools You Need to Work from Home

home office tech toolsGuest post by Elizabeth Phillips

You know the benefits to working from home: increased productivity, improved happiness, and lower costs. And more and more people are beginning to catch on. According to Forbes.com, 30 million Americans work from home at least once a week, a number that is expected to rise by over 60% over the next five years. Three million Americans already work from home full-time.

Whether you’re self-employed or you telecommute from a large corporation, here are a few cutting-edge tools that can help you make the most of working from home.

High-speed Internet

The most important tool for at-home productivity, and the one you need to use all these tech tools, is a high-speed, reliable Internet connection. It will allow you to communicate with clients or coworkers, research projects, keep up with industry news, share and organize files, and schedule and keep track of appointments.

To do all of that faster, try fiber-optic Internet like Verizon FiOs, AT&T U-verse or Google fiber. Fiber is a faster, more reliable, and more consistent Internet connection. With fiber Internet, you’ll be more productive – and happier – working from home.

Google Drive

Google Drive is a cloud-based file storage system that allows users to create, upload, edit, and save documents online instead of on your computer. The program saves limited storage space – and it allows you to access your files on any device. Google Drive is also a great way to back up your information in case of computer trouble.

Evernote

Evernote is like a personal assistant for all your tech devices. With Evernote, you can make to-do lists, save webpages, keep track of appointments, and share notes with coworkers or clients. You can type your notes or write them in your own hand with a stylus. And Evernote includes several cool add-ons like Evernote Clearly, which cleans up webpages for easier reading, and Evernote Food, for saving recipes and restaurants.

LogMeIn

Even when you work from home, you’re not always at your desk. But with LogMeIn, you can access the files and programs you need on your work computer – on any device. LogMeIn lets you run programs, control your desktop, fix problems, and access and edit your files remotely, whether you’re on your tablet, smartphone, or a public computer.

FindIt

You have a lot of files – and you probably save them in a lot of places. Find them more easily with FindIt. FindIt allows users to search files across multiple platforms, including Gmail, Dropbox, and Google Drive. Search by sender or file name, and filter by file type and time.

Elizabeth Phillips is a freelance technology writer with a focus on how the Internet improves our lives. She can be found (productively) working from home in Philadelphia, PA.

You Can Still Be Chic, Yet Cheap

Potterybarndesk

source: Pottery Barn

When I started working from home two decades ago, I did my best to hide the fact that I had a home office instead of a corporate office. It wasn’t cool to work from home and run a company.

As far as my clients knew, I was working in a stuffy office building instead of in a comfy home office. One of the drawbacks of working from home was that my only home office furniture options were cheap, badly designed computer workstations and desks that fell apart after one or two moves.

Now that working from home is more celebrated than criticized, furniture manufacturers — even from the commercial side — have created functional, stylish and even affordable home office furniture.

Some of my favorite places to shop for reasonably-priced home office furniture are Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, West Elm, Z Gallerie and commercial furniture dealers—they sell to individuals too. Sometimes you can find home office furniture by well known and respected manufacturers at Costco and Sam’s Club.

Before you buy anything, check for quality. You may think you’re getting a bargain, but don’t be surprised if you have to replace that same item after a few months. I’m still shocked when I walk into an office supply superstore and see a chipped or dented desk. If it doesn’t hold up in a store, is it really going to last in your home office?

With more decent furniture choices available, your home office doesn’t have to reflect the corporate office you just left (or feared being trapped inside for at least eight hours a day). Instead, your home office can, and should be, a reflection of your interests, taste and design sense.

Create the Perfect Team With Your Competitors

Guest Post by Lucinda Cross

Portrait of business people with their hands togetherA good way to increase profits, reduce risk and broaden your market is by joining forces with a competitor. Maybe not all of the time, but a project or two may be a good way for both of you to grow your businesses and to see if a long-term association is worthwhile.

If you have multiple businesses, the joint venture may be just one of those businesses, and the others you continue to run on your own. There are a few ways to work with your competitor.

  • Be creative. For example, if you’re both life coaches, you can offer more seminars in more places for mutual benefit.
  • Create a shared company name to help you brand your services.
  • Make sure the venture is on an equal footing. It’s probably a good idea to get a legal agreement that clarifies exactly what is shared, who is the boss, and other details. A legal document gives you the way in and the way out, if you need to end the venture.
  • Create a business plan for the venture. The plan should detail what the goals are and how you’re going to reach them together. You can’t work at cross-purposes if you want to succeed.

Of course, the most important factor in a joint venture, is trust. Without mutual trust and openness what could have been a successful venture (the usual result of a joint venture is success) will fall flat on its face.

Lucinda Cross, known as the Business Midwife, is the author and speaker of Corporate Mom DropOuts. The company provides signature online and offline educational marketing strategies and mentoring for mom entrepreneurs.

How to Separate Work and Play in your Home Office

Guest Post by Jay Harris

home office with kidsWhen you work from home and have children, finding a proper work/life balance can be challenging. One option for keeping your kids out of your home office so you can actually accomplish something during the workday, is to set up their own little home base.

From establishing a separate play area in the next room, to equipping full-on outdoor playsets, if you are willing to invest in a “quality time” project with your child on the front end, you can pave the way for more productive workdays down the road.

Create a Custom Play Area.

Since the invention of chalkboard paint, those expensive, trying, and time-consuming days of painting over your kids’ wall graffiti are gone. By selecting a large bookshelf or wooden toy chest for your multi-purpose painting project, your pint-sized Picasso has multiple surfaces on which to draw, write, scribble, or whatever. At the same time, she has somewhere to store her books and toys after she’s finished playing with them.

Consider these painting pointers:

      • Paint the entire playroom to match your home’s décor, or choose from loads of paint colors available.
      • For the little Type-A angel, paint each shelf a different color that relates to a specific item that “lives” there. For example, store books on blue, cars and trucks on teal, the stuffed Rabbit family on red, and so on.
      • Always paint in a properly ventilated room and allow adequate drying time before using your new pieces.
      • Make sure the shelf is sturdy and attached to the wall so your child can’t pull it down. Also, make sure the toy chest does not have a lid that can come crashing down.

Take it Outside.

For kids who don’t need constant supervision, here are some basic tips for making sure your child is safe and sound when out of your sight and spending time with his or her outdoor playsets during your workday:

      • Make sure all areas are covered with shock-absorbing materials like rubber or mulch that can serve as a buffer between your child’s head and the hard ground.
      • Wooden swing sets should have soft rubber seats, not ones made of hard wood.
      • Don’t attach any other ropes or cords to the play set — there’s no need to “Pimp your Playset” with dangerous extras!
      • Be aware of exposed areas of metal that can harm your child. For example, chains that can pinch and large bolts with jagged, protruding surfaces should be covered with protective materials.

What new ideas for occupying your kids during the day come to mind?

Jay Harris is a regular contributor to Home Depot’s website. His interests range from providing tips on playsets, to homeowner advice on outdoor projects.

How a Virtual Assistant Can Help You Grow Your Business

Virtual assistant for small businessYou may be Working Naked, but you still wear several hats from marketing director to business manager to publicist, among other jobs. While some of us (myself included) think we can do everything ourselves, others who know they can’t, and are ready to grow their businesses, hire virtual assistants.

Several small business owners who work with virtual assistants shared what their virtual assistants do for them. In some cases virtual assistants seemed to be even more valuable than their spouses.

“My virtual assistant handles all my website design and maintenance. I’ve gone from four published books to eight. She has also saved my neck during a couple of major e-mail crises, performed troubleshooting of all sorts of stuff, and researched the best option for me on various technologies and platforms. She lives about 5000 miles away from me in Alaska and we’ve never met.”
—Shel Horowitz, ethical marketing expert

”My virtual assistant has always been based in Copenhagen. I have used my virtual personal assistant for over a year and find that it is the only way to maintain efficiency and excellent service levels than any other method. She schedules all of my global meetings, does all of our invoicing and travel arrangements- getting me to and from clients in the US to Europe.
—Jennifer Hicks, founder of ink Communications and co-founder of bGrand

“My virtual assistant does many of the things I am not qualified to do: She created a web site for me and maintains it by adding new materials, links, resources etc. She does this also for an existing site I have. My virtual assistant pushes me and encourages me. We’re a team that just happens to sit in two different states.”
—Jane Cranston, ExecutiveCoachNY

“Over the years, my virtual assistant has done a variety of tasks for me including formatting/updating documents, creation of Powerpoint presentations, flyer development, database management, email marketing, and website design/update. Over the years she has also helped me to automate as much as possible so I’ve actually used her less as time has gone on.”
—Jackie Nagel, President of Synnovatia

How has a virtual assistant helped you?

What Makes You an Entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurs come in all shapes, sizes and ages. What links most entrepreneurs is their desire to call the shots and stop answering to others. This infographic, originally posted on Bit Rebels (my favorite technology/geek site), illustrates 9 signs you might be an Entrepreneur.  How many characteristics describe you?

 characteristics-of-an-entrepreneur-infographic

Is Your Home Office Still Working For You?

home office workingSome days you may look forward to working in your home office, while other days you may go straight to a nearby coffee shop to work. If you’re spending more time working away from your home office, than in it, it may be time to make a few home office changes.

Consider whether your home office still inspires you to work.

Whether you’ve had a home office for many years or you’re ready to set up a home office for the first time, start by asking yourself a few questions: Is there enough light? Is your home office in a high-traffic area?  Is the space too isolated to let you accomplish anything? It’s important to find the right place for your home office so you actually enjoy working there. If you’re tired of your current office and want to try to work in another part of your home, do a 30-day trial. If after that time you still like the new space, move everything from your old home office into your new office.

Move your furniture around.

Consider moving your desk from against the wall to floating in the room. Maybe I’ve seen too many horror movies, but I never feel comfortable having my back to the door. You’ll feel less isolated and may even enjoy a view of the outside if you look into the room instead of stare at a wall all day. Moving your furniture around can change your outlook (literally).

Add a bookcase.

Out of the last 10 home offices I’ve seen, half of them didn’t have a bookcase. What’s the problem with that? Without a bookcase or shelves, there’s no place to store books, reference materials and even knick knacks that can add a little something to any home office. Not only can a bookcase be functional, it can serve as an interesting design element within your home office, or as a divider in a large room.

Keep your family in mind.

You may want to keep your family out of your home office while you work, and if so, you’re not alone. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep your family in mind while you’re working. Hang a bulletin board near your desk and add family photos, or keep family photos on nearby shelves.

Your home office should be a place you enjoy spending time. Until you take the time to consider whether or not your current set-up is working, you may not realize what a difference a little change can make.

Unlocking the Best Guest Posts

Best guest postsI like to think I know everything, but I know I don’t. That’s why I ask home-based business owners from different fields to share their expertise on Working Naked. Over the past several years I’ve had an impressive group of guest bloggers contribute. In case you’ve missed any of them, here are a few guest posts from the past.‏

Knowing What You Could Earn May Bring You Home

By Steve Anderson

Working from home was a dream long before it became a reality, and that’s because I needed plenty of time to convince myself that leaving the corporate office was not some crazy dream.

How to Protect Your Small Business

By DeAnn Flores Chase

As a small business lawyer, I work with entrepreneurs, business owners and professionals on a daily basis. For new business owners, I advise that an entity be formed from the start. For existing business owners, I advise that an entity be formed as soon as possible.

6 Tips for Staying Safe While Searching for Virtual Jobs

By Sara Sutton Fell

Almost 3 million Americans work from home (or telecommute) full-time, and another 15 to 20 million work from home at least one to two days each week, so it’s no surprise that interest in telecommuting jobs is growing. And with that growth comes an increasing number of work-from-home job scams prowling the Internet every day. It’s estimated that only one out of every 60-70 work-from-home jobs is legitimate and the remaining listings are scams.