One of the most exciting things about technology is the opportunities it provides, from one-click shopping to working from home — if it wasn’t for the internet, who would ever be able to finish a project while still in their pajamas?
Some employers may offer a chance to work from home, at least a few days a week. But if you’re in sales (for example, if you’re an independent insurance agent), there’s a lot to consider before you set up your computer at your kitchen table.
Are you able to work from home? For someone in sales, who is regularly stopping by a client’s office or visiting someone in their house, working from home may be the easiest solution. They can simply get up in the morning and head out the door. On the days when they’re prospecting, a spouse may be at work and kids are at school, leaving plenty of hours to call in a quiet place.
But others might find a home office too distracting. Even if they can keep from “taking a long break” on non-work-related websites, or even heading back to bed for a power nap, there are always things that eat up the time, like dishes that just have to be washed right away. If you’re prone to procrastination, working from home might not be the most productive idea.
You could head somewhere else to work, even if it’s not the office. If you can stay focused on the job, grab a seat at your favorite coffee shop. Some buildings rent space to users who need a quiet place to set up their computers — you could be researching an account, while the author next to you writes a novel.
Maybe you don’t have a problem with distractions, and your job keeps you busy all day long. If you’re involved in a project and don’t see any co-workers headed to the parking lot to drive home at quitting time, you may keep working. Or you might grab a quick dinner and head back to your home office, when you could (or should) be relaxing with family, friends, or by yourself.
A simple way to handle this is to treat every work-from-home day like any other work day: get to your desk (your home office) at a pre-determined start time, and stop working at 5 p.m., or the same time every day. You can even take it a step further: Apple co-founder Steve Jobs put on the same black turtleneck and jeans every day, so he wouldn’t have to spend time thinking about what to wear that morning.
Finally, remember that your home-based business is just that: a business. If you telecommute for a larger organization, operations might not be a concern, but if you’re a freelance web designer or online store owner, you’ll need to learn at least a little about self-employment taxes and health care. You’re also responsible for drumming up business, ordering office supplies, and staying in touch with new customers. Working from home can be rewarding — as long as you can stick to your goals.