Working from home is a modern-day reality for many — businesses as well as individuals.
For businesses, the need to reduce expenses and overheads is leading to increased outsourcing, telecommuting and hiring of part time work from home team members.
For individuals, there can be any number of reasons, ranging from health to family, why working from home may be a necessity. The inability to commute and work in an office makes working from home the only option to stay gainfully employed.
Statistics released in 2004 by the U.S. Census Bureau showed that, as of the year 2000, some 90,000 individuals worked from home in Missouri alone. Most were between the ages of 35-54. The majority were high school graduates with a good portion possessing some college education. Many had bachelor’s degrees from various universities.
The census indicated most worked in management, professional and related occupations. A large number also worked in sales and service related industries. With a changing economy the numbers of at-home workers has surely increased over the years but the type of person working from home probably remains the same.
Technology of course is fueling the growing popularity of working from home. Tools like laptops, email, portable fax machines and dedicated phone lines are making it easy to telecommute and even work exclusively from home. In many cases, high-tech tools also make it possible to build your workday schedule around other responsibilities.
While it is growing in popularity, working from home isn’t always easy. Many people make the mistake of thinking that they could work any time they wanted, without the discipline needed while working in an office, or that working from home means easy work. None of these assumptions are true.
The only thing that working from home eliminates is the need to commute. Most legitimate businesses require their at-home workers to clock in and out just like their office workers. That means you need to stick to the schedules and demands just like in a regular job.
You need to ask yourself a few questions to determine whether you have what it takes to successfully work from home:
Working at home means working alone. There are no team dynamics, no supervisor, and often a number of domestic distractions. Employers though, need you to start work in tune with the normal business day and follow through until that day’s assignment is complete. This calls for the ability to work in a concerted and dedicated manner without supervision. You should be able to do this consistently in order to successfully work from home.
Pounding on a laptop in bed or setting it up on the kitchen counter isn’t sustainable to quality work. Successful at-home workers create a separation between the home and the “office” within the home. This can be done by setting up an office in a spare room or creating a designated workspace within the house or basement. Having a complete, quiet room that can adequately house a computer, desk top, filing space, paper, pens/pencils and other supplies would help you create your home office. Every working day, going from home to “office” would help you create the separation from the domestic and professional life.
Crying children, phone calls from friends, TV shows, and sorting through a pile of laundry may all be part of your daily existence. However, these can soon become excuses for missed deadlines, poor quality of work, and more. To be successful while working at home, you need to be able to find a way to ensure that domestic issues do not extend into your workspace and hours.
Like any job, your salary, bonuses and other perks will be based on your performance. Whether you rely on at-home work as the main source of income or as a secondary source of revenue, the company paying you expects quality, discipline, consistency and results. Just because you work from home, professional demands do not change. You would be working against the same professional benchmarks that a person faces when working at an office. Coping with these demands could require extra training on your part or an investment in hardware, software or supplies. In the end you will succeed or fail based upon your hard work and ability to produce results. In an office environment, there’s peer pressure, supervision, etc. Working from home requires you to be a self-starter — someone who can self-motivate and achieve the results and succeed.
The grass often looks greener on the other side of the fence. Those going to an office often wish and aspire for the conveniences of working from home. However, not always do people realize what it takes to succeed while working from home. This can lead to frustration. If you can create the right environment, prepare well and have the discipline and motivation needed, there is no reason you cannot successfully work from home.