The FreeAgent Blog

Home truths: 10 things everyone who works from home knows

Posted on 19 May 2017 by - Jump to comments

It’s National Work From Home Day today! If you’re lucky enough to regularly kick back at home while getting a tonne of work done (or just getting through a lot of snacks), how many of these WFH truths do you recognise?

1. The morning smugness is real

Bask in the warm glow of WFH smugness as you watch people trudge through the cold and rain to the bus stop. Then enjoy your cosy five second commute down the corridor.

waving through window

2. Mealtimes blur into one

When the fridge is only a few steps away, your day can easily turn into a grazefest. Gotta keep your energy up, right?

snacking all day

3. A nap is perfectly permissible

Frowned upon the last time you tried it in an office, a cheeky midday nap (under your desk or perhaps somewhere slightly more comfy) is perfectly acceptable when you work from home. After all, research has shown that naps improve can thinking and memory skills, and even makes the brain perform as if it was five years younger!

nap under desk

4. Working in your nightwear happens

Some people like the structure that getting properly dressed in a morning gives them, others not so much. If you’re more of a creature of comfort, WFH gives you the perfect opportunity to keep it as casual as you like.

pyjamas

5. Chores aren’t a chore

Weekends are for fun, not catching up on laundry. WFH means you get the drudge work done around the real work. #win

chores between work

6. Your pet thinks it’s Christmas every day

You’ve become a master of working with a wriggling, snoozing, or generally ecstatic pet somehow attached to you. Even if you work at home all the time, it never gets old for your furry friend(s).

happy pet

7. Work can happen in weird positions

Do you think better sprawled out on the sofa? Lying on the ground? Propped up in bed with with your laptop held above your head? When your whole home is your office, every surface is a potential desk.

working in funny positions

8. Working outdoors ain’t as great as it sounds

You make sure you post a sundrenched Instagram snap of your outdoor laptop and lemonade combo every time the weather hits double figures. In reality though, wasps, sunburn and the annoying glare on your screen usually makes you pack up and head back indoors pretty sharpish.

working outside

9. Technology develops a devious sixth sense

Important Skype call with a client looming? On a deadline and need to email a document RIGHT THIS MINUTE? Your internet connection will choose that very moment to start playing up.

technology playing up

10. You do actually get work done!

Despite what some might think, your home can give you a focused, interruption-free, creative environment that means you’re at optimum productivity - a survey found that nearly six in 10 workers believe they get more done working from home than in an office. Now you just have to convince those office-dwelling sceptics!

disbelieving friends

Leave the laptop at home - a day with FreeAgent Mobile

Posted on 17 May 2017 by - Jump to comments

As summer draws ever nearer, the thought of working in a stuffy room as the sun beats against the window is far from appealing. Luckily, the days of being chained to hulking Windows 95 desktops are over. Just pop your phone in your pocket and go wherever the wind may take you, safe in the knowledge that you’re not leaving your business behind.

So take a break from your laptop, and find out how FreeAgent Mobile can help you stay on top of your small business on a day away from the desk.

9am ☕ Power Up!

Wherever you’re off to, there’s nothing like treating yourself to a cup of coffee to get your day off to a strong start. If you run into a client and would like to treat them too, make sure to hold onto that receipt. Simply snap a photo of it in FreeAgent Mobile to record the expense. You’ll never have to squirrel away piles of paper receipts for tax time ever again.

expenses-on-mobile

10am Are you hearing invoices..? ✏

There’s nothing worse than wasting a sunny day indoors, so continue your stroll outside and top up those vitamin D levels. While you’re out there, use FreeAgent Mobile to catch up on any invoices you haven’t sent out yet. When you have your contacts saved in FreeAgent, creating and sending an HMRC-compliant invoice literally takes seconds. Done!

invoices-on-mobile

11am Time = money ⏰

If you’re getting loads of work done on the move, don’t forget to record your time so that you can accurately bill clients without having to rely on memory. Starting a timeslip in FreeAgent Mobile takes mere seconds, so there’s no excuse not to charge accurately for your hard-earned hours ever again. You can even start a timer in FreeAgent Mobile, and stop it on your laptop (or vice versa).

timeslips-mobile

1pm Take a break 🍔

Lunch time! While you’re chillin’, why not use your mobile to check in with colleagues or clients. Or alternatively, you could explore the wonders of FaceApp (no judgement here).

2pm Get into the flow 💰

No-one likes to be out of the loop, especially when it comes to something as important as your cash flow. Luckily, FreeAgent Mobile lets you see your incomings and outgoings at a glance. Just head to ‘Cash flow’ in the ‘Insights’ tab, and you can toggle between the current month, or the last 3 or 6 months.

3pm Tax attacks! 😨

Gulp! Forgotten to check when that looming tax deadline is? With FreeAgent Mobile there’s no need to panic: you can view all your upcoming deadlines at a glance. You can also enable notifications for upcoming tax reminders with ease.

Tax timeline

5pm Clocking off time 😴

Phew! What a day. Now that you’ve broken free from your desk and stayed on top of your finances, it’s time to put your feet up for some well deserved rest.

Would you like the option to work on the go? See how FreeAgent Mobile can help you manage your business on the move.

Download the FreeAgent Mobile app here:

Introducing CIS subcontractor support

Posted on 5 May 2017 by - Jump to comments

If you work in the construction industry then you’ve probably heard of the Construction Industry Scheme. If you haven’t, you can safely ignore this article and enjoy those two minutes of your life back.

Still with me? OK, so CIS affects both contractors and subcontractors working in the construction industry. With this release, FreeAgent supports the obligations for subcontractors.

In practice this means:

  • Raising CIS invoices with the appropriate deductions
  • Automatically filing CIS deductions through payroll
  • Knowing how much you're owed from your contractor customers
  • Reconciling payments received with CIS deductions

To get started read our detailed guide on how FreeAgent supports CIS for subcontractors.

Until next time,
Roan and the team at FreeAgent

8 things to do before taking on your first employee

Posted on 1 May 2017 by - Jump to comments

Thinking of taking on your first employee? Congrats! In the milestones of owning your own business, this is a really big one! Getting some help with the day-to-day running can enable you to take on more work and allow you more time to push your business forwards.

Before you start drawing up that job description, it’s important to make sure that you’ve met all the legal requirements to be an employer first. These steps aren’t too onerous, but are vitally important, both in the eyes of HMRC and the law. We’ve assembled some keys tasks to check off your list, so make a start now, and you’ll be a fully fledged employer in no time.

1. Register as an employer

First things first - it’s time to make this official! Keep HMRC in the loop by registering yourself as an employer. This step is fairly painless, but massively important. Be aware that you can’t register more than two months before you start paying staff, but you must be registered before your employee’s first payday. It can take up to two weeks to be approved, so make sure that you set aside enough time.

2. Get Employer’s Liability Insurance

Employers’ Liability Insurance is a legal requirement as soon as you take on even one employee. This can provide protection if one of your employees is injured or taken ill because of something that happens at work. It can also protect you from any compensation claims arising from workplace accidents. You could be fined up to £2,500 a day for failing to get employer’s liability insurance, so make it a priority to invest in some.

3. Decide on a wage

There’s no point in taking on an employee if three months down the line you realise that you can’t afford to pay them and have to let them go. Crunch the numbers and figure out if taking on an employee is going to be feasible for your business. Once you’ve decided on a fair salary for the work you’re asking to be done, be sure to check that it complies with the latest National Minimum Wage, which has just risen as of April 6th 2017. While you’re at it, it’s worth investigating whether your new employee will be eligible for a workplace pension.

4. Set up a payroll system

Once you’ve settled on a wage, next stop payroll! Payroll can seem a little scary, but it’s there to make things easier for you. FreeAgent’s online accounting software offers RTI-compliant monthly payroll functionality, and is a great way of keeping track of who to pay what, and when. FreeAgent files RTI to HMRC automatically whenever you run payroll, meaning you’ll never need to worry about missing a deadline again. Using FreeAgent to manage payroll is also really handy for viewing your cash flow at a glance, as well as being a lifesaver when it comes to filing your personal annual tax return.

5. Create an employment statement and an employment contract

They might sound similar - but these documents are totally separate and really important. The statement of employment particulars must be produced within two months of the employee starting. It summarises the main conditions of employment. The actual employment contract is a more detailed document of the terms and expectations between the two parties. Get in touch with an employment lawyer to make sure your contract checks all the boxes if you’re in doubt.

6. Make sure you do any necessary employee background checks

Some industries, like healthcare and education for example, require their employees to undertake background checks. Any careers involving vulnerable people or security may also warrant a background check. No matter what the industry is, you should make sure that a potential employee has a legal right to work in the UK. HMRC has produced a handy tool to help simplify this process. Find out more about any other employee background checks you might be required to make on HMRC’s website.

7. Get to grips with Employer’s National Insurance

Although as an employee you may have been used to National Insurance being deducted from your payslips automatically, you are now the one responsible for arranging these deductions. Along with this, you will also have to make employer’s National Insurance contributions. As of April 6th 2017 these two rates have been aligned, making the National Insurance process a great deal easier for employers. The change will see both employees and employers now paying National Insurance on weekly earnings above £157. It’s also worth checking out if you qualify for the Employment Allowance, which could potentially see a big reduction to your National Insurance contributions.

8. Know your employment rights

Although you might be taking on an employee primarily to help you with your workload, it’s your responsibility to make sure your employee is happy and well looked after while they are at work. There’s a whole host of employment legislation out there; from holidays and sick pay, to health and safety. ACAS provide a range of guides to help employers stay compliant, as do HMRC. If you have any concerns, get in touch a lawyer that specialises in small businesses.

All of the above rules and legislation might seem a little overwhelming, but once you’ve put them in place, they’ll just become another part of your routine. Check out our comprehensive guide to ‘Becoming an employer: what you need to know’ for more details, as well as HMRC’s online guide to employment legislation. And last of all? Get ready to be a first class boss.

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