“Working from home has given me the much needed flexibility in balancing work with family life. It also helps to save costs...,”
enthused Mr Charles Goh, who signed up for the new scheme.
From 10 June 2003, all homeowners are allowed to run small-scale businesses in their homes under a new Home-Office scheme. There are now about a million homes and each of these is a potential home-office.
“Working from home has given me the much needed flexibility in balancing work with family life. It also helps to save costs in terms of office space rental, commuting, eating out, etc,” enthused Mr Charles Goh, who signed up for the new scheme and now conducts information technology (IT) and management consultancy work from his five-room HDB flat in Jurong West.
He added: “It also provides me with greater credibility as I am now properly registered and legally recognised - an authenticated IT services provider to both home users and small and medium enterprises.”
Register at a click!
Signing up for the scheme is a breeze with online registration. HDB dwellers simply need to register with HDB; those living in private properties with URA. Instant green light is given for one year and renewable after that.
Paving the way for expanded scheme
The expanded home-office scheme came within less than two years after the introduction of URA’s Pilot Home-Office scheme for five selected areas in the city centre in November 2001.
Applications for URA’s pilot scheme and Economic Development Board (EDB)’s Technopreneur Home-Office (THO) scheme started in 1999 have shown that there is demand for home-offices and these have not caused any adverse impact on surrounding homes. This provided grounds for the flexibility to be extended to all homeowners. The new expanded scheme replaces both URA’s pilot scheme and EDB’s THO scheme.
By the end of July 2003, more than 3,000 homeowners have jumped on the bandwagon to run businesses such as computer design, IT accounting, management consultancy and software programming.
Giving maximum flexibility
The scheme also broke new ground in being truly flexible. Instead of stating the allowable business types, it specifies only 16 types that will not get the go-ahead as they are likely to affect neighbouring homes adversely. It is necessary to draw the line at these 16 “no-gos” - including maid agencies, food manufacturers, clinics, funeral services and retail shops - so as to keep noise and other disturbances to neighbouring homes at bay. Moreover, home-offices can only hire at most two non-residents as staff and must continue to be used as home.
Sharing the scheme’s concern to protect residents’ interests, Mr Goh summed up what many working from home feel about their home-office businesses: “Ultimately, a home-office to me is like a testing ground for my business. If my business takes off according to its intended road map, I will gladly move the operation into a commercial property and let home be what it is originally intended to be - HOME.”