Homeworking: things to consider

Homeworking may be the holy grail for many parents. It allows them to be near schools or childcare if anything goes wrong – as it inevitably does – and saves on commuting time so they can get more done. But there are some important things to bear in mind before you embark on homeworking.

Homeworking may be the holy grail for many parents. It allows them to be near schools or childcare if anything goes wrong – as it inevitably does – and saves on commuting time so they can get more done. But there are some important things to bear in mind before you embark on homeworking.

1. The first thing to consider is whether homeworking is right for you. Homeworking is particularly suitable for research, data inputting and projects that need concentration and focus. It may not be suitable for other jobs which require a lot of face to face meetings, although more and more of these can be done via conference calls and Skype. You could combine the two and go into the office for face to face meetings and use homeworking for the more focused work.

2. Are you the kind of person who likes working alone? If you aren’t, but really want the flexibility of homeworking some days, you could see if it is possible to combine homeworking with going into the office for a few days a week so that you get regular contact with your colleagues. Another possibility is local work hubs. Check out if there are any in your area so you can avoid the commute, but also have the collaborative atmosphere of an office.

3. Your employer will expect you to have childcare in place. It is very difficult to work when trying to look after children, no matter how placid they are. If you are self-employed and can’t afford regular childcare, you may be able to network with friends and family to offer some support when you might need it. Other parents may be in a similar position. Why not team up to help each other out? If your children are school aged, you could reorganise your working day to take a break at pick-up time and then log on later.

4. Ensure your work station at home meets with health and safety standards. Your employer should do a check for you.

5. Is your computer up to scratch for the work you need to do and do you have a back-up if it crashes? This is vital. Ensure you discuss technical issues with your employer. You will need to ensure you have the right internet connections for work, eg, broadband. Again talk this over with your employer and discuss at an early stage issues like the phone bill and how you ensure your employer pays for work-related calls. For instance, you might want to install a work line to make things simpler and to distinguish work from home related calls. Again, your employer should cover these costs.

6. Don’t overwork. Try to keep fairly regular hours. Far from the myth of homeworkers sitting at home watching daytime tv all day long, the danger is more that because they are at home they do not clock off.

7. Ensure you have regular communication with the office. Communication is one of the big issues with homeworking. It is harder to do properly from remote, but it is possible. Ring the office regularly and keep in email contact. Make use of basic technology like Instant Messenger and Skype. If you can make sure you go into the office on a regular basis, if only for a meeting to catch up with what is going on, including the gossip, and to ensure you do not feel sidelined.

8. Your manager should set manageable targets for you so that you know you are achieving them and can have regular meetings to see if they are working and what can be done to ensure that you meet them.

9. If possible, keep your work space distinct from the rest of the house and try not to let the children near it. Some people find they need to make a physical distinction between work and family life even if they work from home. They might go for a walk round the block or have a shed office so they feel they have “travelled” to work.

10. Look the part. You may find that you feel more in work mode if you look the part rather than sitting at your desk in your pjs.





Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *