Keeping your home business secure
Running a home business is becoming increasingly popular. With rising office rents, and petrol prices showing no signs of falling, working from home is a choice that many self-employed people and some employees are making.
Working from home can be a bit of a challenge, not least thinking about where in your house to locate your office or equipment.
Once you have decided where you’re going to locate your workspace, you need to think about business security.
First of all, to keep your business secure, you need to check your insurance. Your first step should be to contact your home insurance provider and ask if your business equipment is insured in case of theft or damage. Most home insurance policies cover basic professional equipment, but some don’t.
If it can’t be added on as an extra, you may need to take out an extra business equipment policy. Also, check that your insurance includes liability cover for professional visitors if you meet clients at home during the course of your work.
Using A Registered Business Address
If you have expensive equipment and are worried about compromising your home, then you should use an alternative address on your official stationery and website. Ask your solicitor or accountant if you can use their office address as your registered address instead. Many include this as part of their service to you.
If you don’t want to give out your home phone number, then you should use a mobile phone, or get a second phone number from your home phone provider. There are also call-forwarding and telephone-answering services available. Check how much your customers will pay to contact you as some of them can be very expensive and off-putting to potential customers.
You should still ensure your home is secure even with an alternative official address and phone number. It is traumatic enough to fall victim to house burglary without having to sort out your work too. Loss of essential equipment doesn’t just mean you have to buy replacements but also will mean downtime and loss of income.
This is a good opportunity to assess your home security in general. Take an objective look at your home and see if there’s any aspect that can be improved. Put up security lights in poorly-lit areas, particularly around doors. Get your house alarm serviced – not only will this give you peace of mind but can mean a reduction in your home insurance premium.
Take a proper look at your door and window locks and see if better alternatives can be found – see this article on the rise of snap-locking - and how burglars are finding ways through a very common lock type. Anything that makes an intruder’s task more difficult and time-consuming will act as a deterrent.
You should keep all your equipment out of sight and reach. Putting your home office and equipment like laptops upstairs is a basic but effective step. Don’t leave your set of work keys near your doors, and be aware of people posing as clients who ‘need’ your address. Make sure all outbuildings like garages and sheds are locked and alarmed where possible.
Never keep cash at your home. You should accept credit cards, debit cards, and cheques as much as possible, and bank any cash as soon as you get chance. If you need to store cash at your home, invest in a safe and keep it out of sight.
Never advertise that you take cash from clients if you work from home.
Keep Yourself Safe
For personal safety, and the safety of your family, conduct business away from your home as much as possible. If you need to meet with a client or a representative, then suggest a public place like a pub or a coffee shop. Once you get to know your client a little better, then you can move to home-based meetings, but you should always try and have someone in the house with you. In a similar vein, neither should you go to someone else’s house alone.
Working from home is a good option for lots of employees, and a necessity for many self-employed people. While there’s no reason to suggest that home-working should increase your personal safety risk, you should take whatever simple steps are required for business security which will give you and your family peace of mind.