Posted on April 21, 2010
Filed Under (Advice, General) by jennifer

Working from home has many advantages, including a very short commute (which not only saves time but gas) and flexible hours. But it’s not right for everyone.

To decide if working at or from home is right for you, first ask yourself these three questions: 1) Am I okay being by myself for long stretches of time? 2) Am I disciplined enough, or can I be disciplined enough, to make and keep to a work schedule every day? And 3) Can I be firm with my spouse and children about work time versus play time, and get work done when family is around?

If you answered yes to all three questions, you have what it takes to work from home. But just in case you are nervous about getting started, here are some tips that if followed can make your work-from-home experience a successful and productive one:

* Create an actual home office, using either a spare or seldom-used room or a quiet nook — away from the kids or action — where you can plug in your computer, a monitor, a printer, have Internet access, and a phone.

* If you are going to be making a lot of work-related phone calls, get a second line — using a service like Skype, which is free.

* Use an online calendar (my spouse, an entrepreneur who often works from home, and I use Google Calendar), so you can plan your work week (or month) ahead of time –- and can share your calendar with colleagues and/or family.

* Set some ground rules with your family, so they understand that even though mom or dad is at home, you are working –- and when and how it’s okay to interrupt. (My daughter knows she needs to knock if she needs me or my spouse, who is an entrepreneur with a home office, and that unless it is an emergency, if we are on the phone she needs to wait or write us a note, or send us an instant message.)

* Get dressed every morning as if you are going to work, which you are.

* Make sure you get up and stretch, or walk around, periodically, as being sedentary for long periods of time is unhealthy and unproductive. (Even better, take at least 20 minutes each day to do some exercise, either at home or at your gym.)

* And even though you have a home office, make sure you leave work at the end of the day.

Thinking about taking your small business virtual and having all your employees work from home? Be sure to read the cover story from the May issue of Inc., titled “The Case, and the Plan, for the Virtual Company,” first.

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Virtual servers can help you save money, space and make it much easier to recover applications and files when a crisis hits. Plus, they’re less expensive and safer than you think.

Until recently, server virtualization was thought of as something that only larger companies — with dozens or hundreds of physical servers — needed and could afford. But times, technology and the cost of virtual servers have changed, and today mid-sized and even small businesses with just a few servers stand to benefit from going virtual.

How to Decide if Server Virtualization Is Right for Your Business

If you are a very small business, with just one server, you probably don’t need to go virtual. However, anybody with more than one server should consider server virtualization, said Mike Egmont, a partner at Flagship Networks, a company that helps small and mid-sized businesses go virtual. And anybody with more than three servers really should.” He also includes anyone replacing or upgrading their existing servers in the should-consider-virtualization category.

A good candidate for server virtualization would be a company that is going through [or planning] a hardware refresh, an application upgrade or is looking to improve their disaster recovery strategy, added Mark Bowker, a senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group. Server virtualization can also help smaller businesses better control IT costs and free up IT staff for other tasks. Similarly, it can also free up valuable real estate as a single virtual server can replace several (or more) physical servers.

To learn more about virtual servers, read my latest article, “Why SMBs Should Consider Server Virtualization.” It explains what server virtualization is in terms ANYONE can understand, and provides tips on how to choose the right virtual server and systems integrator for your small (or mid-sized) business.

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