Working From Home

Freelancing!  It’s my new joy!

While I do earn a little from my Avon business (www.youravon.com/lil) if you make a purchase, there are no products noted below … just sharing my new experience. 

Using skills I’ve acquired and honed through the last 45 years  to help others achieve their goals and flexible enough to be the best help they can find – that’s what’s happened since leaving my regular position.  For them, I can be available at agreed up times.  We are not confined to regular office hours or routines.  It’s a convenient way of working and an affordable way to get things done.  I love it. My new clients really love it.

So after enjoying my morning coffee in the sunshine and a walk in the brisk air, I am ready to begin!

The leaves are still falling, a bit late and a lot messy for this time of year.  Of course, there’s no snow on the ground and these temps of 60’s and 70’s in January are quite different.  Even the birds are confused.

For me, however, it’s a time to plan and freshen my outlook. When the walk is complete, the blood is a-pumping and I’m ready to be effective for someone else.

Now back to the topic:

Learning to work from home  begins in childhood, I think.  You remember, don’t you?

The teacher asked you to “work” on your assignments at home. To read, study, learn, develop your opinions, and sometimes, express them in a particular manner.

That’s when we learned to work for others, at home.  Our pay came to us in the form of report card grades, accolades and maybe even a “do over” now and then.

So working from home should be as natural as doing homework after school, right?

Sure, with a little more in the consequences department.   If you are earning an income working from home, it’s likely to mean more to your checkbook than that ‘A’… because the ‘A’ didn’t pay the electric bill.

at home employee sipping from a tea cup at her laptop
Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

What we did learn from homework assignments (besides the topic), was self-discipline. To stay with it until it is done (tenacity) . To write clearly ( communication skills) and to follow the prescribed outline (customer request).

What works for one, may not work for another.  After several years of working from home, these are my notes for those considering a work at home assignment.

  • Consider your surroundings when planning your work space.  What will your tasks require?  Tables (round, square, drafting),  floor space or just desktop?  Storage for product, a mailing center, a place to hang items?   One monitor or two?  A mic for online meetings, or is your cell phone clear enough? Will you need to use the internet and will you need a booster in your office area to have the reception you require?  Will you need specific software and how updated is your computer? Planning to work from the dining room table?  Think about the hours you’ll spend in that chair, the table height compared to your desk height, and the surroundings, like lighting, street noise, etc.
  • Next, the noise level.  Is it quiet? Will there be family and pets in your work area? Will you need to arrange for quiet time, or times of no interruption?  I have a friend that created great signs for her office door.  The family knows when the MEETING in PROGRESS sign is on the door, they can only open it when the house is on fire.  Once, her young teen tried to do laundry and flooded the kitchen. The MEETING IN PROGRESS sign was on the door, so the teen mopped and mopped and mopped until her mom emerged from her meeting for a soda break.  Needless to say, the floor was very clean and her meeting follow up took a few minutes longer that afternoon.  Planning and flexibility.
  • Time is important. It’s tempting to work many more hours than required in order to turn in the best work. It’s easy to get lost in it, in fact.  There’s no shift whistle or others walking out of the office waving goodbye to signal the end of the day and we all want our customer to know we have their best interest at heart and want success for them. Customers are always satisfied when agreed upon time expectations are set.  Stick to it. You’ll both be better for it!
  • Accountability is always necessary at work. If you are at home, where will you find the accountability?  Will you file regular reports, emails, have weekly meetings to gauge progress? Something to think about.
  • Confidentiality is DESERVED.  Sharing your customers’ plans, work efforts, and strategies is taboo. Those who pay for your services, own the work and it is not ours to give away.  Know the difference between the work they purchased and the skills and ideas you bring to the project.   Share your skills, not their work with others.

Finally.  Why are you working from home?  Will the customer’s requirements be met and your needs fulfilled?  Will the REASON you are working from home in lieu of their location be worth the effort?

For me, the expense and time required to travel to a larger city to work everyday is prohibitive.  Add in the attire, meals out and typical office social expense (contributing to birthdays, lunches, holiday parties) and there’s a good portion of the income not realized.  Travel time means less time preparing home cooked meals, maintaining the home and spending time with family, friends and pets.  Sometimes this requires additional expense (like day care and pet services) .

While working from home allows me certain freedom’s, it also requires solutions for  compromises.

  • Like associating with professional peers. In order to stay up to date on changes in your field, finding groups to join online and local same-field peers will be important. Time spent reading the latest, or listening to podcasts or TED talks may help.  Being isolated is one hazard of working at home.  Don’t fall off the edge!
  • Workroom chat. Everyone loves to take a 15 minute break when it’s in a relaxing, but still in-work-mode atmosphere.  Sharing ideas, good news and bad, focusing on the same task, in a different manner  encourages cohesive results for the employer.  Again, online groups, lunch dates with peers, quick coffee chat with someone in the same field all help meet this need.
  • Fashion Love.  Funny, I always dreaded choosing clothes for a new season. Now I miss a reason to shop for a new outfit.  To meet this need, consider a local community organization or volunteer position that requires  you dress up a bit.  Enjoy the pleasures of dressing up, instead of the dread of dress code.  Another note:  Consider a home-work dress code.  Train yourself to be ready for an online video chat everyday.  It can still be very casual, but neat, clean and alert looking!  NO PJ’S on camera!

Well, these are the notes I thought would be helpful if you are planning a work at home scenario.  Again, what works for one may not work for you.  I probably changed my desk around 10 times in 10 years. The sunlight moves around, you know.  I’m sure you’ll find your sunshine at home and produce some awe inspiring work for your customer.  Please feel free to comment about your experiences below. We can help each other!