Working from home

Is this an option?

The way we work has changed over the years. More and more is done online, outsourced or commoditised. So where do we fit into this new equation? Do we really need to do the 9 to 5 simply because that’s what everyone else is doing?

So is working from home right for you?

 

Pitfalls

  1. Distractions – there’s a lot going on at home, especially if you have kids or someone else who may demand your attention. Then there’s such things as the TV, video games, whatever it is that demands your attention.

A dedicated work space can help minimise some distractions. Also, if things are particularly distracting at home, and if the nature of your work allows for it, you could from time to time work at the library or other such place if you needed a change of scenery.

  1. Lack of visibility for your business – if you work for yourself you may be robbing yourself of market presence and passing trade if you work from home. Some people do business with those that they believe that they are familiar with because they pass their premises frequently.

 However, a web presence is just as important and optimising your search engine result (SEO), through advertising or even engaging professional help to improve your SEO will likely be a worthwhile investment in lieu of a physical presence.

  1. Lack of a professional image – when people think of someone who works from home, typically the image of a stay at home mum comes to mind, making a little extra cash on the side. And there is nothing wrong with that at all. If you are operating a business from home, it may be perceived that you are not fully committed to your business, or that you see it as a hobby.

To counter this issue, you could use the services of a Virtual Receptionist, who will answer your calls, and transfer them to you, and if you are unable to speak, they can take a message. Virtual offices are another great idea, giving you a professional address that you can advertise and the use of meeting rooms should you ever require face to face time with a client. Choose meeting rooms that are modern and very professional. Often your clients are unaware that you are actually working from home.

  1. Lonely – working on your own at home can be very isolating, especially if you are a very sociable person. For others though, this could be seen as an advantage – the opportunity to get work done without interruption. 

A happy medium could be to work from home, getting work done quickly and without interruption, then choosing when and with whom you will socialise or joining a meetup or professional group of similarly situate people with whom you can discuss ideas.

  1. Wrong ‘head space’ to work – It just sometimes feels weird and out of context to work from home, for much the same reason that people go to the gym to walk on the treadmill – it just feels like the right place to do it even though you could get the same results at home or walking around the block. 

This is just something that you will need to get over by telling yourself that this is something that you want, and that you can make it work. If you want something bad enough, you can find solution.

  1. Never truly get away from your work – work can intrude on family time, and it may just feel that you are always at ‘work’.

 

Having a dedicated work space that you can shut off, be it a home office or even a roll top or davenport desk, which you can close at the end of the work day, can create a barrier between home and work.

 

Advantages

  1. Flexibility – you really can work when it suits you. The bottom line is that as long as you get the work done – who cares what your working hours are? The traditional 9 to 5 mentality is eroding fast in favour of individual thinking.

 

  1. More time with kids – and reduced or no child care costs. Even just your presence in the home can be enough, especially if the children are a little older and basically doing their own thing. But at least you know where they are and that they are up to – mostly! Most importantly – if they need you, you can be there.

 

  1. Lower travelling expenses – no petrol or public transport costs, even better car insurance rates, which can certainly add up.

 

  1. No commute – more time to get things done – which is time better spent. Some people need to commute an hour each way – that’s almost 21 full days a year that is spent commuting – time that they will never get back.

 

  1. No distractions or interruptions from work mates – there’s always that one person who talks too loud, interrupts everyone and generally wastes everyone’s time. Or what about the constant meetings to talk about doing work – while not actually getting any work done. If you took away those disruptions, you could get your work done in far less time. This works particularly well when the kids are at school – you can get most of your work done in a much shorter time.

 

  1. Cheaper lunch costs – no more take away coffee or expensive sandwiches from the coffee shop, especially if you tend not to enjoy bringing food from home when you work in an office.

 

  1. Can work longer hours if need be – sometimes it is not practical or safe to work late in an office, so if you need to work late, doing so at home will be less disruptive to the family and yourself. You can be there, and still get work done, maybe even attending to the family first then getting down to work instead of watching TV.

 

  1. Don’t have to dress up for work – but you can if it puts you in the right frame of mind. If you are physically comfortable you are less likely to be distracted. If it’s cold and you get to work in your comfy pyjamas – why not?

 

  1. Reduced overheads – especially if you are running a business from home – this can give you a competitive edge on pricing, your clients only needing to pay you – not your landlord indirectly through the higher prices that you will need to charge to cover this expense.

 

  1. You can claim some of your home office expenses, e.g. telephone, against tax, making the situation more financially viable for you.

 

  1. You can do those small household tasks in between working – like putting food in the slow cooker – or putting on a load of washing, while taking a small break as well.

Jobs that can be done from home

Just about any job can be done from home, or as a small business run from home. Even if you need to see clients, you can do so at home, but preferably through an ad hoc meeting room rental, meeting them at their offices or such other neutral location, maybe even a coffee shop if there are no issues of privacy to be considered.

But there are counter-less jobs that can be done from home, such as:

  1. Telecommuting. Some employers allow their employees to work from home, only coming into the office as required. This cuts the business’ overheads, as they do not need as much office space. This could work on a full time or part time basis. It would be worth having the conversation with your employer. The bottom line is they want the work done, and if you can quantify the work, you will be in a far better negotiating position.
  2. Transcription services;
  3. Online shop;
  4. Blogging or professional writing;
  5. Accountant;
  6. Lawyer;
  7. Web design;
  8. Graphic design;
  9. Copyrighting;
  10. Editing;
  11. Layout and design;
  12. Software or App development;
  13. Language or other tutor, via skype;
  14. Child care;
  15. Etc

 

Creating a work space, internally and externally

  1. Discipline – when it’s time to work – go to work.
  2. Virtual office, virtual receptionist, skype ‘land line’, online administrative services.
  3. A Starting point. Working from home could be a good starting point from which to grow your business – too any people are concerned with the renting fancy office space that they use up their capital and the business fails before they hae had enough time to create a client base.
  4. The Mental shift to work mode –
  5. dedicated work space;
  6. dressing up for work;
  7. having set work hours, ‘contract’ with family not to disturb you during these hours.
  8. Tools to help you stay on track –
  9. time management apps for example ATracker to keep track of how you spend your time;
  10. block social media;
  11. signals to the kids, for example if the office door is closed they should not disturb you unless absolutely necessary,
  12. setting appointments with yourself, blocking out time in your diary to get the work done and ensure that you have set aside enough time to get everything done.

Whether working from home is right for you comes down to how determined you are to making the situation work for you.

What are some of the challenges and solutions you have faced on the issue of working from home? Leave your comments below.

 

Image: Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_olgacov’>olgacov / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

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