The allure of ‘work from home’ is hard to miss, but it’s not all pajamas and daytime television. Working from home actually does involve actual work, contrary to the claims of many “work at home” programs. Do not fall victim to one of these programs; not everyone can work from home, and it does require actual skills.
Here’s how to decide if you can work from home:
- Make a list of your marketable skills. Are you working for an employer who would let you take your existing work home to telecommute, either full-time or for a few days per week? Can you write, transcribe, design websites, or open a daycare? What can you do on a freelance or consultancy basis? Make a list of any skills that you could market. This is the best way to begin working from home.
- Assess your self-discipline. If you decide to work from home, will you be able to motivate yourself to get work done during the day? Will you be able to focus at home, or are there too many distractions? You may need a home office to keep you away from these distractions. Working at home does not just entail sitting at home all day; you will need to get work done. In fact, many people who work from home actually put in more than full time.
- Assess your time management skills. One of the biggest changes between working in public and working at home is that there is nobody to tell you when to complete tasks. If you enjoy being your own boss, and have confidence that you’ll be able to meet deadlines without reminders, then working for home may be right for you. You must be able to organize deadlines and other paperwork, because there is nobody else there to do it for you.
- Consider your marketing skills. Are you up for the task of marketing your skills to potential employers? Most people who work from home do so as freelancers or consultants, not as full-time employees of a specific company, unless they have transitioned from working in an office to working at home for the same company. Can you deal with the added stress of having to come up with your own workload?
- Will you let your work encroach on family time? One of the downsides of working from home is that you’re always “at work.” Will you be able to set aside part of the day as “work time” so that you can focus on family or home life the rest of the day, or will you be constantly checking your email or finishing work at all hours of the day?
- Can you handle working alone? For many people, work provides not only a paycheck but also a social arena. Will you be able to handle going days without talking to coworkers or gathering around the water cooler? Some people thrive on these social interactions, which are often missing when you work at home.
Work at home can offer a lot of freedom, but it also presents some unique challenges. Only you can determine whether you are up for it or not. The keys to determining whether you can work at home are to be honest with yourself about whether you have the discipline to do so, and to find a skill that you can complete at home and market to potential employers.