Being a mortgage originator has some perks. For starters, you get to help people buy homes and build wealth. You also get to choose whether or not you’re going to work independently or with a brokerage, bank, or other lender. If you chose to be an independent broker, or even a part-time broker, then you might also have a choice when it comes to working out of a traditional office space or working out of your home.
Working from home isn’t about rolling out of bed and answering emails in your pajamas (although it can be nice to avoid that rush hour commute!). It’s about carving out a space in your home where you can think clearly, eliminate distraction, and come and go as you see fit.
Here are some ways to ensure that your home office is just as productive as any offsite work space.
Invest in the right equipment
There’s nothing more annoying than sitting down to get some work done and realizing that you don’t have what you need. You may need to have access to particular programs or databases in order to work effectively, for example, or you might need two screens, or you might need to upgrade your printer to one that includes a scanner. If you’re on the road often, you’ll want to make sure that you have a phone charger in your car as well as at home. Is your internet speed fast enough? Little things that aren’t noticeable when you’re relaxing at your home can be a pain to manage when you’re working in the same space. Make sure that your technology suits your business needs, not just your recreational ones. No client wants to hear that you can’t do X, Y, or Z because you’re “out of the office today.”
Carve out appropriate space
On-site offices aren’t necessarily quiet, but there’s not much chance of the interruptions being of a more personal and/or location-specific nature – your baby crying, a next-door neighbor mowing the lawn, or shouts from the playground across the street. Find a space in your home where you can, if possible, close the door and shut out the noise.
Look at the space where you’ll actually be working. Placing a laptop on the kitchen table may start out as a viable setup, but you may find that it’s useful to have a separation between your work space and your private space – or at least as much as can be when your job depends on you bring accessible for so many hours of the day. While it might not be necessary, something as simple as having a desk in a set location can put you in the right mindset for work.
Making business the focus
Quiet isn’t the only concern when setting up a home office space. Consider designing your home office to serve as a meeting space, where your clients could come see you in the event that it’s more convenient for them than your onsite office location (if you have one). A space off the bedroom might not be appropriate, for example, but an office right next to the front door or in a separate studio space would be less personal. Make sure that the office is not only suitable for you – complete with a desk, a comfortable chair, appropriate lighting – but for clients and even referral partners to sit, spread out paperwork and discuss freely.
Check out insurance
Once you make your home double as your office, there are financial considerations to think about, and that doesn’t just include the tax write-offs. You can insure your home business, although it might make more sense to add material and equipment that you need for your home office to your existing home insurance policy. Something else to consider is whether or not you’re going to have clients on the premises. Keep in mind, though, that there may be different limits on the amount of coverage of a homeowner’s insurance policy versus a home office policy, and if you have set up your home office in another structure on your property such as a separate garage or studio space, the insurance requirements might be even more particular. Check with your insurance provider to see what makes the most sense for your situation.
Maybe you share your small living space with someone else who works remotely, are the proud owner of loud pets, or have another reason why your home just isn’t a suitable space for your office. You don’t have to be limited by the four walls of your home, nor do you have to resort to working at the local coffee shop (although that does have its perks). Many towns and cities have shared workspaces, where self-employed and other free-range workers can share resources such as an office location/address as well as things like office equipment (think fax machine, copier, etc.) and meeting rooms. There’s also the added bonus of being around other people, which can be something that you start to miss if you work alone often.
Don’t forget about the other office
Having the opportunity to work remotely doesn’t mean that you always should. As most brokers know, a significant portion of their time is already spent meeting with clients or in their car, getting to and from those meetings. If you do have a shared office space, it might be worthwhile to work from there on certain days. You’ll be better able to collaborate with your colleagues on particular files and connect in an interpersonal way that just as important as it is with your clients.
As long as you do the proper preparation to ensure that you’re set up for success, having a home office can provide the flexibility and autonomy that you need to be most productive.