Thu 6 Mar 2014
Shirley is in her late 40's and lives with her partner at home where she has been running the Agency for three years.
Case Study written in 1999.
- Q. Where do you work at home?
- A. We have a town house with three floors. The ground floor is a lounge leading to the garden and therefore very separate from the rest of the house. The lounge is now my office. I am partners with my next door neighbour and we can both answer the phone as we have a dividing wall and cordless phones.
- Q. What is the best thing about working from home?
- A. Lots of benefits: saving costs as you don't need to pay for an office; I have two dogs and I wouldn't want them to be alone all day; and I can sometimes be in my kitchen preparing a meal and on the phone at the same time.
- Q. What are the negative points about working at home?
- A. That you can't always switch off you are tempted to answer the phone after hours and you probably work much longer hours.
- Q. How do you cope with the isolation of working at home?
- A. I work with my neighbour and in our business the phone doesn't stop and we also interview so in our case isolation would sometimes be nice.
- Q. Do you manage to keep your work and home life separate?
- A. Not always easy as the phone rings all the time day and night but I try and turn off at night and weekends and let the answer phone take over. I do however check the messages and sometimes have to call back. We are very busy and I feel very guilty when I am not in the office.
- Q. Does your homeworking pay the bills?
- A. Not all of them but it makes me independant.
- Q. How did you manage financially when you first started working at home?
- A. There was very little financial outlay as I already had most of the equipment.
- Q. What was the deciding factor to help you to decide to work from home?
- A. I had the computor, the fax, the spare phone line etc and it started as a small venture. I would not have considered laying out money for premises.
- Q. What sort of work did you do before you worked at home?
- A. I have worked in Marketing and taught word processing, which I still do occasionally on a one to one basis.
- Q. How do you cope with distractions at home?
- A. I sort them out very very quickly and often walk round with a workman and my cordless phone still doing business. I also have an extension in the kitchen.
- Q. How do you manage your time?
- A. The office is always open Mon - Fri from 2pm to 5.30 although we are often here in the morning and later than 5.30 but if I need to go out I do it in the mornings. The answer machine is on full time and I also have call waiting.
- Q. What two pieces of advice would you suggest to someone considering working from home?
- A. I think it depends on the business. It is nice to have other people's input and I would not want to work on my own entirely, you need someone else to share problems and joy with. We have also set up a local organisation of agencies to share experiences with and some of them work alone and feel it is extremely beneficial to know that other people have the same problems as them.
I would also say that you should have set hours otherwise you can be at your desk from 8 - 8 and on weekends (which I sometimes do but am trying not to). I think the most important thing is to have contact with other people in your field. You also have to be disciplined when things are quiet to generate business and never turn the TV on etc.
- Q. Anything else you feel needs to be said?
- A. For me it is perfect although in our case our business is growing and we have to consider how we are going to expand. I would still prefer to keep it in the house even if it means employing someone, getting more equipment etc.