Will Working From Home Hinder Your Productivity and Hurt Your Image?
By Selena Dehne, JIST Publishing
If you're thinking about freelancing or starting your own business, you need to consider which type of work setting is best for your situation. Can you afford to lease a space? If so, should you or would it be a better idea to work from home and redirect your money elsewhere? If you do work from home, will you actually be productive or will you wind up running errands and watching TV all day?
Dr. Kristin Cardinale, author of "The 9-to-5 Cure: Work on Your Own Terms and Reinvent Your Life," says there are two key questions to ask yourself when evaluating these issues.
1. Will receiving clients into your office be a core piece of the work?
"For example, if you will be operating as a life coach for part of each day, then securing an office space may be necessary to make your clients feel comfortable. However, if you are doing graphic design work, then perhaps a laptop and a cafe are all that you need to conduct successful client meetings. The acceptable norms of each industry are unique, and you have to determine for yourself what is appropriate for you, your business and your clients," she explains.
"Also, keep in mind that the work you do may change over time as you identify viable sources of income and learn more about the type of work you most enjoy doing," she adds.
2. Will working from home result in you sitting on the couch in your pajamas and watching infomercials for hours on end?
According to Cardinale, "If you know going in that you lack the discipline to focus on the work at hand and ignore the television, refrigerator and other distractions, then you may want to consider leasing some space. However, remember that you will need to be much more productive at bringing in business to cover the costs of your lease each month."
If you do ultimately decide to work from home, here are a few of Cardinale's tips that you'll want to keep in mind.
- Minimize noise pollution: Will you be calling clients? Is there a possibility you'll conduct business through Skype or other video conferences? If so, you need to ensure that your work space is free of noise. "In other words, avoid a situation where an important meeting is interrupted because your dog starts barking wildly at the mailman," says Cardinale.
- Create a conversation corner: According to Cardinale, the space you set aside for face-to-face client meetings and video conferences should be neat, clean and appropriately decorated. "For example, in your home office you may wish to dedicate one corner to virtual meetings, complete with a small table for a webcam, a comfortable chair and a lamp that provides appropriate lighting. Be sure to evaluate any photos, artwork or other decorations that would be in view of the client for appropriateness based on your industry. Remember, when you work with people in a virtual environment, these few images they see may be the only evidence they have available to build a mental picture of who you are in real time," she explains.
- Look the part: "Although you may be sitting around in your track suit all day long, it is important to dress and act the part of a professional when on camera [during a video conference]," advises Cardinale. "Clients will develop an image of who you are based on those brief on-camera interactions, so be prepared to dress and act the part of the consummate professional, however that is defined within your industry."
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Selena Dehne is a career writer for JIST Publishing who shares the latest occupational, career and job search information available with job seekers and career changers. She is also the author of JIST's Job Search and Career Blog. Follow her on Twitter at @SelenaDehne.