If your small business is growing to the point where you need assistance, that’s a good thing. But there are definitely a few things to remember before you bring an employee into your office, particularly when you run a business out of your home. Entrepreneur magazine ran a story over five years ago on what to consider when hiring an employee for a home-based office. While the economy has changed quite a bit since then, the tips still hold true. We’ve just added a few.
Meet on neutral ground. If you run a home-based office, hold your initial interviews off-site. You never know who will reply to employment ads so it’s advisable to meet in a public spot, like a restaurant or a coffee shop. It’s more convivial and it gives you a chance to suss out a potential candidate without divulging your home address. Better safe than sorry.
Full disclosure. If the candidate is qualified and you’re comfortable having them join the team, make sure that they are comfortable working in a home office. Be honest. Let them know what they’re getting into before they start. Ask them if they’ve ever worked in a home office before and if they feel comfortable. Let them voice their concerns, if any.
Set them up. You project a professional appearance to your clients. Your employees deserve the same respect. When they arrive for their first day of work, you should already have a dedicated spot reserved for them with appropriate facilities; computer, phone, lighting, etc. They should have a modicum of privacy to allow for phone calls, etc. Your employee should feel comfortable in their new space and not constantly under surveillance by the boss.
Prepare the facilities. This goes without saying. It’s probably the law in most states. You need to offer employees adequate facilities. If you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated bathroom for your office space, great. If you don’t, at the very least remove as many personal items as possible from the bathroom that will be used by your employee. It’s just weird knowing what kind of shampoo your boss uses. And it’s just weird thinking that your employee could be looking through your medicine cabinet. Nip the weirdness in the bud.
Offer certain comforts. The advantage of a home office is that it’s more easy-going. Chances are you don’t have a strict dress code, let your employee know that. If possible, provide coffee, beverages, and certain office perks to keep your new employee hydrated and happy. Preferably, you’ll have separate mini-fridge or coffee maker in your office so that your employee doesn’t need to rifle through the family fridge to find creamer. But you can play that one by ear.
Meeting space. It’s always good to have a big table on which to spread press kits, proposals, and other materials. It’s a great place to take conference calls and just sit around brainstorming. This can be your dining table, but it would be better if it were a dedicated conference table.
Take the time to build an office vibe. You may not have a water cooler, but you can still do your best to create a good office vibe. Establish regular happy hours with other colleagues with other complimentary businesses. This serves dual purposes, establishing a good social office vibe and introducing your employee to other industry colleagues. Establish a regular Friday lunch or something to discuss updates.
Establish boundaries. Make sure your family (and pets) understand that the office is off-limits. No playing or hanging out in the office allowed.
Use technology to your advantage. Once you establish a schedule and a sense of trust in your employee, feel free to use technology to your advantage. Work virtually on some days, allowing your employee a break from commuting and empower them by showing them that you trust them. Provide your employee with their own company laptop and phone, if possible.
Provide generous vacation time. That’s the whole beauty of working for yourself. You set the schedule. Remember to flexible with your employee because at some point, you’ll want them to watch things while you take a much-needed vacation.
Have fun. Whether you’ve been a boss before or not, the thing to remember is that you lead by example. If you are having fun, so will your employee.