|TELECOMMUTING: DREAM COME TRUE?|
November 14, 1997
in this forum:
What is the best way to convince employers to try telecommuting? What are the risks involved with telecommuting? Does the U.S. lead the way, or are other countries implementing successful telecommuting systems? What is the accountability process for telecommutiers to show their work? Additional questions and comments.
A report on roadblocks on the information highway .
A year in the life of the Internet.
How encryption keeps your work private.
NewsHour's Cyberspace Index
Dr. Michelle Weil's bio and information about how to reduce technostress.
Margaret Zeemer of South Ogden, Utah asks: I am building a new house as well as a new business in the Real Estate industry. I do have a desk at the office but plan to dedicate a room in the home to my office space. I will have a desk top, a fax, a printer a business line and a home line (do you suggest two separate numbers?) Are there any tax deductions that encourage telecommuting? Any hints or suggestions will be greatly appreciated. I'm considering my own Website too.
Mr. Jack Nilles responds:You didn't mention a computer but I can't imagine operating a home-based business these days without one, so I'll assume that's included since you did list a printer. Whether you need more than one business line depends on the volume of telecommunications traffic you're likely to have. If you have reasonably priced ISDN service available in your area, I suggest you might want to go for that. You'll get two lines and can use one for fax, the other for voice and data, or both together for LOTS of data, and various combinations thereof, given the proper adapter, such as 3Com's or others. Always keep a "regular" phone line, though, if your area is subject to frequent power outages; ISDN dies if the power goes out, the phone line doesn't.
Recent changes in the federal tax laws make it easier to claim deductions for home office expenses. Until this year my advice was generally: forget it! Now it may be a little better. I'm not an accountant and can't keep up with the details, but I usually tell clients to think carefully about de preciating a part of their homes as a business expense; it may come back to bite later on if the house is sold at a profit.
Dr. Michelle Weil responds:First off, let me say that as you jump into creating your own home office space you should definitely read the chapter in "TechnoStress" called "Who's Really Running Your Small Business or Home Office?" In this chapter we outline issues specific to home offices that can cause TechnoStress such as technological malfunctions, techno-isolation, creating clear boundaries between home and work and avoiding technological alienation. We also recommend ways to deal with all of these problems both in this chapter and more generally throughout the book. We also cover the communication dilemmas you will encounter as you have so many ways to "connect" with people today. The chapter called "Reach Out and Touch Someone?" gives clear suggestions to make your communication successful and will enhance your business.
From the technical standpoint, you want to create an office that is conducive to doing business and that avoids the stresses of trying to merge home and business in one location. Phone lines are a good example. At work you would have a fax machine typically connected to its own phone line so that faxes would not have to wait for an open line to transmit. Do the same in your home office or you will face the stress of making sure that you are "off the line" when you are expecting an important fax. As far as business deductions, my understanding is that as long as your office is in a separate location that is not used for any other purposes, you can take a home office deduction and deduct portions of your utilities, rent or mortgage and household upkeep. HOWEVER, I am not a tax accountant and would recommend that you talk to one before assuming you will be able to deduct your home office.