I would like to welcome Lisa Lightner to Just Short of Crazy today. She is the awesome blogger behind Smart Spending Spot and A Day In Our Shoes. I’m so excited that she is sharing her knowledge about working from home with us. Please give her a warm welcome.
We are quickly approaching not only Christmas but the beginning of a new year. With each new year, we get a chance at a clean slate, a new start, new beginnings. Maybe you’re thinking about working at home either starting your business or askingÂ your employer to let you work from home.
But working from home is not all it’s cracked up to be, there are challenges both personalÂ and professional. I do a mix, I work for an employer that allows me to be home based, and I do freelance work and blogging of which I am in total control of the business. Here is some of what I’ve learned over the past few years.
1. You will probably still need daycare if your kids are not in school yet. It worked fine when he was a baby that didn’t really do anything, but not now. Telling them I’ll play with you in 90 minutes, as soon as I’m done working does not fly with the preschool set. Trying to do conference calls is a nightmare, trust me!
You will be able to save money on wardrobe, lunches, gas and other frivolities (constantly participating in workplace fundraisers & gift giving events) and you will save time by not having a commute. But I wouldn’t factor in not paying for daycare into your household budget without trying it first.
2. You have to be good at saying no. You have to say no to your dirty house at times and work. You have to say no to family and neighbors who ask you to get Jacob off the bus or accept packages or whatever. They wouldn’t ask you to do it if you went to an office every day, right? When my home is bothering me, I set a timer for 15 or 20 minutes and just tidy up for that entire time. It helps get rid of distractions so that I can focus on work. And since most work at home jobs are computer based, you have to be really disciplined to stay off of Facebook and Pinterest! I reward myself with 10 minutes of Pinterest after three client letters or 90 minutes working on our database and so on.
3. It gets lonely at times. I love the path that my career is on and it’s working well for our family. However, it does get lonely at times. If you are a social butterfly, you may not be happy. The flip side of this of course is that I never have any election debates with co-workers.
4. Sell your employer on saving time and office space, and be prepared to demonstrate to him/her how you will still be productive. Business people want to save money, and if they can trim their office space this can be a good solution. Have clear cut guidelines of what your home office hours will be and stick to them. I have a spreadsheet that I fill out monthly as well as a client tracking program where I document which clients I helped and how.
5. Family and co-workers will need time to adjust to the idea that you are actually working during those hours. If you put in a full day of work, and your family comes home and the place is a mess and dinner is not ready, it can be awkward at times. Remember that it’s not any different than if you had just walked in from your commute. If your coworker emails or calls you and you don’t respond right away, they may assume you are at the beach. You may have been working your little heart out, but that is not always the perception. Everyone needs to be clear about his or her expectations because a work at home mom and a stay at home mom are two very different things!
All that being said, working from home can be very satisfying and rewarding. I don’t have to deal with traffic jams, I can flex my work schedule to accommodate things like school events and doctor appointments and home repair guys coming over. I was commuting 66 miles each day when I worked out of the home, so we are saving on car
expenses and day care expenses. If this sounds beneficial for your family, see if you can get it worked out.
Lisa Lightner lives in Chester County, PA with her husband and two young sons. OnÂ her frugal living blog Smart Spending Spot, she does a feature called Work at Home Wednesday where she features various moms that work from home. Her other site, A Day in our Shoes is for parents of children with special needs, with a focus on
special education and the IEP process. She also works part-time as a Special Education Advocate.