Five minutes ago I was hanging washing on the line, and now I’m sitting in my office writing this blog. That’s the beauty of working from home!
Mind you, it’s pouring rain outside so hanging the washing was an exercise in futility, but I take the view that eventually it will stop raining and eventually the washing will dry. Even if it’s 5 days later, it will happen.
Anyway, that’s beside the point. The fact remains that working from home has fantastic benefits in terms of flexibility. I love it! It also has a downside though, in terms of, well, I just never leave work. I’m always here, and there is always something that I could be doing: an article that needs to be written, some book revisions that are (oooops) at the moment overdue, a blog, paperwork – there’s always something.
Currently I work 2 days at home and 2 days in an office. The office-based work is my financial planning; the at-home is my writing. A foot in both camps, so to speak, and it works well for me. But would it work well for you? How can you know if you would be suited to running an at-home business?
There are a couple of great books on the market that deal with exactly that, both written by Mums who have made the transition from office to home and both packed with fantastic information.
The first one is ‘Show Mummy The Money’, written by Sonia Williams. I’ve previously mentioned Sonia in conjunction with her new magazine (also called “Show Mummy the Money”). You can read my interview with Sonia in my blog of the same name. The book is more specific, dealing with how to find a home-based business that is right for you, how to set it up and how to run it successfully. Being a former accountant, Sonia has lots of information on paperwork trails and bookkeeping. It’s a great resource for anyone thinking of setting up a business and you can find more information on it on her website; www.showmummythemoney.com.au.
The other book I’ve read recently was released last year an is called ‘No Workplace Like Home’, by Jane Shelton. It’s excellent and deals with everything from making the decision, planning the business, taking on staff, marketing, growing the business and runs through all the legal, financial and family issues that you need to think about. To quote from the book:
"The nine to five 'man in the grey flannel suit' who stayed in one career in one company for a lifetime, has long been pronounced extinct. In this post-industrial era, we live a fast-changing world with increasingly rich textured lifestyles, and in which work functions are continually altering. We combine roles and responsibilities as parents, executives, consultants, students, carers, volunteers, friends, personal and business partners. For most of us it's no longer possible to divide the world into three neat domains: work, home and play."
I think she is right on the money there, and there are both good and bad points to that. The main advantages to working from home that Jane lists are:
• Being in charge
• Time for other things
Certainly, I find that working from home gives me the freedom to do other things (such as hanging out washing). I can also catch up with friends for a coffee if I want to (although realistically I rarely do). Being freelance, I can also choose what work I will accept and what I would rather not do, and yes I am in charge. The buck stops with me.
Other advantages are avoiding peak-hour commutes, savings on petrol costs, being able to wear jeans all day and not having to worry about make-up.
The main disadvantages that Jane lists are:
• Loneliness and isolation
• Time management difficulties
• Cashflow management
• The office never goes away.
For me personally, loneliness isn’t an issue. The nature of my work means that I’m always talking to people – interviewing them, being interviewed or just talking. Time management is definitely an issue, especially on a day like this when one of the kiddies is home sick (she’s currently watching Play School – it finishes in 5 minutes, I need to type fast!). Cashflow management is possibly the biggest hurdle, depending on the type of work you choose: Sonia Williams has some great advice about that in her book and yes, the office never goes away. I am often writing at 5am, and again at 11pm!
Bottom line (Play School is almost finished now) is that if you are currently working from home, are thinking about working from home or would like to even remotely consider the possibility, I really recommend these two books. ‘No Workplace Like Home’ even has a list of 101 different working from home careers that you could consider! A lot of small businesses fail in the first 12 months, but a bit of prior research could help ensure that your isn’t one of them.
I’d love to hear about your experiences of working from home, some of the problems you have encountered, as well as what is fantastic about it and what works for you.
Play School is finished now – I must go. Have a great week!
This post has been edited by daviesjv: 30/05/2008, 10:05 AM