Thu 6 Mar 2014
Lauren is 32 and has been a musician working from home for 10 years. She lives with her musician husband and their two children aged under 7.
- Q. Where do you work at home?
- A. As a freelance musician my work can take me all around the country, but I practise (and rehearse) in a spare room which is also my office.
- Q. What is the best thing about working from home?
- A. I have always worked like this and I can't imagine any other way.
- Q. What are the negative points about working at home?
- A. There are no negatives.
- Q. How do you cope with the isolation of working at home?
- A. I never feel isolated.
- Q. Do you manage to keep your work and home life separate?
- A. Tricky one this...Being a musician is so absorbing a career it is not something that you can "switch off" after a certain number of hours each day. However, this does not mean that I ignore my family - far from it - more that the two are combined. My husband is also a musician and we juggle work and looking after the kids between us.
- Q. Does your homeworking pay the bills?
- A. Yes. In fact I have a theory that the self employed are a lot better off as you can be in a 9-5 job and be made redundant tomorrow. When you are self-employed you have your fingers in so many different pies, so to speak, that if one contract falls through you can just adjust your working horizons until they are back on track again. There is nothing like having a mortgage to pay each month to focus yourself. Whereas if you are made redundant tomorrow how are you going to pay the mortgage?
- Q. How did you manage financially when you first started working at home?
- A. Very, very grim to start with. I had a huge overdraft for years, and also had the humiliating task of continually having to justify myself to various bank managers as to why I did not have a "proper job".
- Q. How do you cope with distractions at home?
- A. There are lots of distractions, but that is life and what makes it all fun.
- Q. How do you manage your time?
- A. I don't have a set pattern as invariably everything is organised around the kids schedules. We have a big calendar in our office and my husband and I write in all our appointments and generally we try not to be both working at the same time. Practise needs to be done during the day as well as phone calls and this is done as and when we can. Generally admin is done in the evening. I think that it helps that we are both workaholics and are very focused in what we do. I love being able to be there for my family and being able to work at the same time. I never watch TV as there is always work to do; some of it can be very mundane so I generally leave that to when I'm feeling brain dead. Plus I have a cleaner that comes once a week and irons. I am a busy mum, and I work hard at my job that I love. Just because I am in the home does not mean that I have time to do the ironing!!!!
- Q. What two pieces of advice would you suggest to someone considering working from home?
- A. Be organised and don't be frightened to say no. You know - that lucrative deal that suddenly ends up involving you having to put loads of extra hours in and/or that old chestnut of "the pay is not good (or non-existent) but you'll get lots of experience/other work" etc. There is always someone who will try and get you to do something for nothing and it can be very demoralizing when you start out.
- Q. Anything else you feel needs to be said?
- A. You have to really want to be self employed because it can be so frustrating until you get your finances sorted out. Be prepared for lean times. If you can't cope with less than £X per month, not having a holiday abroad or being able to budget each month than this is not for you. But, if you can cope with all that, want to be around for your family, fancy taking an afternoon off whenever you want (to watch an England match!) - then you can't get much better.
Visit Lauren's website.