Scheme opens up a million homes for business

GO AHEAD, feel right at home in your office. Because you can now have your office at home. 

People who run certain kinds of small businesses may use their homes as offices if the business does not disturb the peace and quiet of the neighbourhood and does not involve more than two people who do not live at the address. 

That frees one million homes to become workplaces, up from the more than 700 homes that already legitimately double as offices. 

Announcing the new Home Office scheme, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said: “We want to help start-up companies reduce their costs, commuting time and expenses. 

“The bonus, of course, is people would be able to spend more time with their families.” 

The 16 types of businesses specifically banned include maid agencies, contractors, couriers, food manufacturers, clinics, funeral services, retail shops, repair shops and beauty salons. 

Other than these, almost any other type of business can be set up at home, said Mah, who added: “You can set up a small publishing firm, start a magazine, do web-designing, song-writing. The sky is the limit.” 

There are about 800,000 Housing Board (HDB) flats and 200,000 private homes here.  

Each of these homes is now a potential home office.  

About 700 are already in operation, under the Economic Development Board’s (EDB) Technopreneur Home Office and the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Pilot Home Office schemes. 

All these moves have grown out of the burgeoning clamour to keep business costs down, lower the bar for entrepreneurs and, now, promote family life. 

Analysts and business people lauded the move yesterday. 

Chesterton International’s associate director, Nicholas Mak, said it “may generate demand for office space in the long run” as the more successful home businesses expand. 

Association of Small and Medium Enterprises president Lawrence Leow said:  

“It’s a very good move because it keeps costs low for businessmen and it can easily save them a couple of thousand dollars in rent and renovation costs.” 

Private homeowners may go to, while HDB homeowners may use the HDB’s website at to register.  

The fee is S$20 (RM43) and approval for eligible businesses will be processed instantly. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network  

  • Another perspective from The Straits Times, a partner of Asia News Network. 

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