Wed 2 Apr 2014
Julie is 50 and lives with her husband and two boys, aged 12 and 17. Her work at home involves writing, research and reports, CVs and Career Counselling.
Case study written in 1999.
- Q. What do you do?
- A. I provide offices services to local individuals, start-up businesses and professionals. This includes - but is not limited to - research, reporting/writing, document-processing, customer service for marketing companies only, human resources [online] and, soon, a basic bookkeeping service. I just started last March.
- Q. Where do you work at home?
- A. My office occupies approximately six cubic feet of space in the corner of a small add-on 'den' in our home.
- Q. Do you manage to keep your work and home life separate?
- A. No way. The two share an intimate relationship! We all work at helping out with business and home tasks.
- Q. What is the best thing about working from home?
- A. I never get caught in rush-hour gridlock! My office space has a large window overlooking the Western hills and valleys of Central New England. I can shift gears easily and go for a walk or complete a project and no one is breathing down my neck. My schedule gives me the flexibility that I need.
- Q. What are the negative points about working at home?
- A. The work is always right there in front of me. I still have deadlines to meet. However, others have difficulty understanding that my availability revolves around the assignments for which I am responsible. Also, health insurance difficulties plague the independent worker.
- Q. What convinced you to work from home?
- A. I have arthritis and fibromyalgia. Both are chronic and can be disabling which would cause me to miss time at an office. So I decided that I should maximize my time by eliminating the commitment to appear daily at work.
- Q. What sort of work did you do before you worked at home?
- A. I have my undergraduate degree in education and my master's from Boston University in Media and Communication. Before I married, I was a school library media specialist. Then, I worked very part-time in employee security at a retail store for 9 years. This was overlapped by 5 years as an Independent Consultant for Mary Kay Cosmetics. Finally, for the past 9 years, I was the coordinator of membership services, accounts receivable and credit/collections for a local community health/fitness and education center.
- Q. Does your homeworking pay the bills?
- A. No. My mainstream position didn't either, because I can only work part-time. However, it became clearer to me that I would be able to earn 'what I am worth' on a part-time basis if I worked on my own. Eventually, I am hoping that the services I offer will become a necessity to more independent workers.
- Q. How do you manage your time?
- A. Weekly plans are placed on the calendar at the beginning of the month. Daily obligations are noted there on Sunday evening. Hourly commitments are kept by setting my cooking timer on the oven!
- Q. How do you cope with distractions at home?
- A. I have come to realize that if you PLAN to be distracted, you will be distracted. I find it effective to make a deal with the distractor - leave me alone for X amount of time and I will give you that amount of time when I finish my 'job'. This has worked because I schedule my commitments around that calendar that I mentioned above.
- Q. What two pieces of advice would you suggest to someone considering working from home?
- A. It is important to know your marketable skills and abilities and have them clearly defined in your own mind. Be prepared to be 'living on the edge' of debt until you get a good grip on the marketplace. Walk away from offers of great overnight riches and throw scams and spams in the circular file as fast as they come to you.
- Q. What else needs to be said?
- A. Skills assessment and market analysis are more important than I can tell you. If there is a market for your product or service, you are already travelling in the right direction. Find a mentor. Join a businesswomen's group. Keep in touch with people, especially those using new technology. Contribute your expertise to a forum. I have gotten back so much just from this one piece of advice!