Working from home is something that has great appeal for parents and those wishing to escape the rat race nine-to-five convention.
And there are tax advantages to using a part of your home as a work base. In terms of flexibility no other career choice offers as much. You decide your own hours… or do you? Or is it the case that others decide them for you?
Everyone thinks you're home for visitors
One of the biggest moans in the world of work at home entrepreneurs has to do with others' perceptions. The fact that you work at home doesn't seem to deter people from dropping by for coffee or calling you on the phone for a chat. The problem is that they don't think 'Jack or Jane works at home' when they think of Jack or Jane. No. They simply think, 'Jack or Jane is at home'. There's a big difference.
While it's true that you can be adaptable when it comes to the hours you work at home, that doesn't mean others have the right to dictate what you do. So how can the work at home entrepreneur combat this problem?
If you are perpetually bombarded with social calls from family and friends during your working day consider taking the following measures.
Be honest and explain your situation
Round robin everyone with a friendly email or letter explaining that you're approaching a very busy time. Be apologetic and let everyone know you'll miss the spontaneous coffee breaks, the hour long phone calls and those surprise moments when your sister drops her kids round for a while.
Have one phone for business and one for pleasure. That way you can filter calls and choose when you take social calls. If there are emergencies, people will manage to get hold of you one way or another.
Give yourself space, just because you do take lunch and breaks during your working day at home that doesn't mean you are obliged to entertain. If you want to take your lunch break alone, then take it alone. People who are prone to pop by unannounced will have to make other arrangements.
Make time for family and friends
Designate time for family and friends. Time wise it can work really well if you host a once a month get together for everyone. That way your get to see your loved ones and acquaintances and they get to see you. And you're in control of how and when that happens. It's far more cost-effective time wise to do this that to have your days endlessly nibbled away by a succession of small interruptions.
Be firm but fair with your friends and family. If it's a case of sharing childcare duties then make fixed arrangements, perhaps your own children can go play at your sister's one day a week and you return the favor. That gives both of you a day to focus on other things.
Set aside a time in your working day when you check your personal answer phone or voicemail and get back to people who tried to contact you. Again, you are in control of the situation.