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Making the Transition to Working from Home

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 16 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Work Home Working Transition Children

Working in an office or other environment outside the home is a lot different than working from your own house or flat. While having no commute and being able to work in your pyjamas might sound great, the reality is a lot different than you might expect.

Why Work from Home?

Most mums choose to work from home for a variety of reasons. They include: wanting to be their own boss and/or set up their own business, a desire to spend more time with their children, and having a healthier work-life balance.

But while working from home may sound glamorous and easy, that's often not the case. Before you decide to chuck it all in, it's important that you look into the reality behind the facade, and fully understand the implications of your decision, on you and your family.

If you are setting up entirely on your own, you will not have a regular pay cheque, will not get sick pay or holiday pay, and will receive no employee benefits. And if your business falters, nobody will bail you out. Seek professional advice before making the leap, and talk to others who have made the transition before you.

If you and your boss make a joint decision that you can perform your current job from home, that's a different story. But even then, things may not all be rosy. Some people cannot cope without an office environment, and your productivity may falter. You may find that combining home with work life too tricky with too many distractions, and you may even get lonely. A trial period, if possible, may be advised.

Making the Transition

Making the transition as smooth and trouble-free as possible is important, for both you and your family. Start as you intend to go on, and don't sway from your course or you'll regret it.

Start with ensuring that your home office is as comfortable and well-suited to work as possible. That may mean kitting out a spare room or making use of a corner of your own bedroom. Just like in any office, you will need the correct equipment and supplies.

The next most important task ahead of you will be time-management, as when that falls apart nothing else matters! But while it may sound easy, it can be fraught with pitfalls.

Set a routine for children to follow to avoid interruption, such as only allowing them in your office between certain hours, or making them knock and wait before entering. And tell friends and your partner that your being home is not an invitation for constant phone calls or other distractions. They need to treat your home office as they did your former workplace, with the same level of respect.

Finally, set yourself a strict routine to follow as well, making sure you have a well-mapped out schedule waiting for you every morning, with specific tasks to accomplish. Structure and self-discipline are key when it comes to working from home. Set yourself up from the beginning to do well, and you will!

Advantages of Working from Home

  • Freedom to spend much more time with children
  • No need to pay for an expensive and time-consuming commute
  • Less contact with unpleasant bosses
  • Saves money on purchasing expensive work clothes
  • Less money – and time – spent on expensive and often unnecessary lunches
  • Ability to choose own hours – although this may be dictated to you if you have specific deadlines or need to be online talking to people during business hours etc.
  • Can claim many overheads to save on tax

Disadvantages of Working from Home

  • Less interaction with the outside world on a daily basis
  • Difficult for people who are not self-starters
  • Easy to get side-tracked by housecleaning, laundry and other distractions (daytime telly, perhaps?)
  • Children can get in the way
  • Some people miss office politics, or an office environment in general
  • Less obvious competition can result in less productivity

Protect Yourself

Be aware of your rights before you start any home-working programme...
  • Get the minimum wage: The vast majority of home workers are entitled to this country's national minimum wage. Even if you are being paid piecework, this still applies.
  • Check your status. People who work from home usually fall into one of three categories: self-employed, worker or employee. Find out which category you fall into, and make sure your employment rights are being met.
  • Beware of scams. Many are out there, so don't fall for them. The best rule of thumb is: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Also, if you are asked for money up front, forget it.
Working from home is not for everybody, but for the people who thrive on this type of lifestyle, it can't be beaten. Seasoned home workers enjoy the benefits that a more relaxed lifestyle allows them, with more time for their families and less accountability to a boss. It might work for you!

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