Working From Home – Dream or Headache?

Are you thinking of launching a home-based business, or relocating into a "telework" program with your company? Or better yet, how many times have you thought to yourself, "I wish I could work from home!" You could wear what you wanted, would not have your boss looking over your shoulder, could avoid rush hour traffic, and could sleep in! But is this fairy tale scenario a dream or a headache? As a writer with a home-based office, I offer some insight into making the shift to working at home a reality. Take a minute to think about some of the pros and cons.

PROS:

You do not have to leave your house– you can work in your sweatpants! You will also save money on wardrobe expenses. The average business outfit costs start at between $ 100.00 and $ 200.00 dollars. Sweats cost $ 7.99.

You can stay home with your children. A definite plus, and the # 1 reason women work at home. You will not have the childcare expenses. Depending on the ages and number of children you have, costs are between $ 4000 and $ 16,000 a year (for one child alone!). Plus, you can attend all of their school activities, field trips and help out in the classroom. You are there to care for them when an illness arrives, give kisses when they stub their toes, and hugs when they just need them.

You can avoid astronomical gas prices as well as other expenses! Soaring gas prices are causing many people to turn to different means of getting to the workplace … walking, bike-riding, carpooling, ride-share, subways, busses and even trains are becoming alternatives to spending hundreds of dollars a month on gas . Lunch out every day adds up, too. You can save over $ 100.00 a month just by eating lunch at your own kitchen table.

You can work without direction or an employee monitoring your daily activities. If you do well without constant direction and feedback, working at home would work for you.

CONS:

Your work day never really ends – especially if you are working around a child's schedule. If your main reason for working at home is to be with your kids, then be prepared to work until the wee hours of the night / morning with only a handful of hours of sleep. As a mother of toddlers, I speak from experience. I write when my kids nap or are sleep for the night. Forget trying to juggle your work during the day. Until those kids hit 1st grade and are gone all day in school, plan on a choppy schedule. It takes discipline, organization and patience to make this work.

You will have to set boundaries for family / friends. Suddenly, you are home and everyone thinks you've quit your job. Even though you've reiterated the fact that now you work at home , all your friends hear is the word HOME. Set boundaries on when you can receive calls, when you can have people "stop over", and when you can be leaned up for a favor. Stress the fact that this is your JOB and you are working during these hours. Your new motto will be "just say no!".

You may feel isolated. If the favorite part of your day in your old job was the office gossip, then being at home may not be the best idea for you. It will be a hard transition from socializing on and off through the day and keeping up with everyone's lives, to just you alone in your house. If you are working for yourself, get involved in your industry's associations. Schedule business lunches and create a business circle for yourself.

You need to be self-motivated. It is easy to stall for huge amounts of time until your deadlines are looming and you are in full-on panic mode. You will find lots of other things to do at your home around work. Kitchen floor need scrubbing? Bathroom faucet needs fixing? Paint needs touch up in child's bedroom? As you are staring out into space knowing that you can do whatever you want, the temptation will be there to take you away from your job and make regular house maintenance seem very desirable. Setting hourly goals help you stay focused and on task. Get dressed every morning as if you are going to work, or at least, get out of your pj's and into something that makes you feel more productive.

Tips for making a home-based office work include: staying focused, ignoring interruptions, setting hourly / daily goals for yourself, and maintaining contact with people from your office and / or joining industry associations to stay connected. Working from home has its challenges, but the benefits are much more rewarding. Good Luck!

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