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Working from Home

Thinking about working from home? There are a growing number of workers enjoying the advantages of flextime arrangements, telecommuting, freelancing, and job-sharing. With careful planning, some research, a little discipline, and a lot of persistence, you can be on your way! Here's how to get started.

If you've already got a good job, make that your starting point.

  • Does anyone in your company telecommute? If so, ask them about what they do and how they negotiated the deal.
  • Are there any components of your job that can be done from home?
  • Write a telecommuting proposal that gives clear reasons why and how you can do all or part of your work from home, and submit it to your supervisor.
  • If your company is not amenable to such arrangements, it may be time to look elsewhere for better opportunities.

Could you do your current job on a freelance basis? Often, this is an easy way to work from home without changing careers. Writers and artists frequently freelance, but people with other job titles can also make the leap. Are you a sales staffer? A consultant? A technical worker? A corporate trainer? These are just some of the job titles that can easily be converted to freelance. How can you make this happen?

  • Review your current workload. Which projects and/or clients could be handled on a freelance rather than a full-time basis?
  • Talk with freelancers in your field. How did they set up their practices? What advice do they have?

One major benefit of freelance work is that you stay in a profession in which you have a track record. That may make the transition to working at home somewhat easier. Also, because you maintain the connection to your original line of work, the door is open should you decide to return when the kids are older.

If you're computer-minded, or just developing an interest, this may be the way to go. Consider the following career options:

  • Computer engineer
  • Computer support specialist
  • Systems analyst
  • Database administrator
  • Desktop publishing specialist
  • Webmaster
  • Web designer

You can find job listings on Monster.com or Hotjobs.com by selecting the Internet and Computers categories and typing in "telecommuting" as a search word.

Even if you haven't been bitten by the computer bug, there are many work-at-home or flexible job options available such as:

  • Paralegal or legal assistant
  • Writer, proofreader, or copyeditor
  • Bookkeeper or accountant
  • Loan or mortgage processor
  • Data entry person or word processor
  • Market researcher or telemarketer
  • Salesperson or recruiter

If there's something you really love to do, go for it! One of the biggest areas in the home-based business category is selling your own services. With very little cash outlay, the chance to set your own hours, and the opportunity to do something that you enjoy and know well, a service-based business may be your best bet. Some sample ideas:

  • Home day-care center
  • Neighborhood gardener
  • Typing service
  • Bookkeeping service
  • Pet sitting/walking service
  • Repair service
  • Apartment finder

Do you have a knack for the latest dances? Do people tell you that you should have your own cooking show? Do you know another language? Perhaps you should consider teaching. Many talented individuals have had wonderful, fulfilling experiences as teachers in their area of expertise. Instruction could be your ticket to success and flexible hours.

Doing your homework is very important if you want to work at home. You need to identify what it is you want to do, what resources you'll need to get started, and what changes you'll have to make in your home and life to accommodate your new career.

  • Read books such as The Best Home Businesses for the 21st Century: The Inside Information You Need to Know to Select a Home-Based Business That's Right for You (J.P. Tarcher, 1999) by Paul and Sarah Edwards, to help you identify what kind of home business or telecommuting career is right for you.
  • Network with people who run their own businesses or work from home. You'll need job leads, financing ideas, and survival strategies -- who better to provide these than someone who's traveled the same path you're considering? Talk to others in similar professions to get an idea of the market. Check your local listings for associations and organizations related to those fields to find out more information.

Assess what you'll need to get going. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What kind of financial outlays will I need to get started?
  • Are there grants or loans available to help me, and how can I get them?
  • What resources (space, supplies, equipment) do I need to start my new career?
  • Do I need additional training or education before I can get started?
  • Will I need additional support to care for my children and take care of household responsibilities after I shift gears with my career?

Many who work at home find that their friends and family may not take it seriously at first, interrupting at different times with random requests, phone calls, and more. What can you do to show everyone that you're serious?

  • Set up a schedule and try to stick to it. "Get ready for work" when your day starts.
  • Set up a specific work space or if you can, a full home office with all the necessities.
  • Establish rules about interruptions. Don't allow family interruptions unless it's an emergency or you're on a scheduled break.
  • Stay on task -- don't stop to do the dishes, run an errand or fold a load of laundry unless you're officially on lunch or coffee break.
  • If you can afford it and have young children, you may want to consider babysitting help or asking friends and family to pitch in.

If you show your family that you're serious about your at-home career, they'll be more likely to respect you and take it seriously too.

Working from home can be a rewarding experience, enriching your family and work life. So if you've been toying with the idea of joining the work-at-home ranks, whip out your pad and pen and jot down your ideas -- it may be time to make those dreams a reality!

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.