Working from home is something that is favoured by both the employed and self-employed, offering flexibility for parents especially. Keep reading to find out more.
There are many articles out there with lists and tables and graphs, all doing their best to give a balanced view of the pros and cons of working for yourself and from home. We decided instead to ask mother of two Nicki to write about her experience of working from home (as a freelance copywriter) as she’s been doing it for ten years now and so knows and has lived through all of the highs and the lows.
I hadn’t planned on giving up work when I had my first son. I was going to go back to work at my (pretty well paid!) job in the health and social care sector, my Mum had offered to have the little one when necessary and we were good to go. Like all grand plans this didn’t work out for me as for a variety of reasons I decided (at my back to work interview!) to hand my notice in.
While for me giving up working outside the home was a choice my husband and I consciously made some parents might need to change the way they work for a variety of reasons, be it that they are now a single parent and the hours they previously worked don’t suit family life or due to a number of other factors beyond their control. What remains the same is the impact (positively and negatively) that working from home may have.
I can honestly say that deciding to work from home and build a business was by far the best decision I have ever made although it has been a very bumpy road. Starting from scratch means no income coming in and this is something you need to really think about. If you are working from home as an employee with a salary this can be more manageable however that depends on your work experience and qualifications. It has taken me nine years to get to the point where I am now, working as a freelance copywriter, earning not only the same as I was in my previous employed position but to be earning more.
One of the hardest things I have found is separating home and work. I now have a home office which makes it easier to close the door on work at the end of the day but when you are working from the kitchen table or the living room sofa the temptation to flit in and out of working and hoovering, working and putting a load of washing in and so on is fierce. This can have a big impact on your productivity and isn’t any good for you! It is important to find a way to put work away at the end of the day and to have a clear boundary between work and home life. People popping by when they know you are home is something else you need to watch out for as work time is work time.
Childcare has been absolutely essential for me. I didn’t use anything for my eldest until he went to preschool at 3yrs but had a fabulous childminder for my youngest from 18 months. By that point I just couldn’t get through the level of work I had without it and didn’t want to be squeezing in emails and calls when I was supposed to be playing with the boys. At first T only went for a couple of days a week, rising to three, then two at the childminder’s with another two at preschool from 9-3pm but the amount of work I could get done was amazing. They are both at school now so I’m spoiled with Monday to Friday school hours to work and no childcare bill (other than during the school holidays).
Has it been worth the juggling, the time spent learning about and sweating over being self-employed and doing accounts and everything else? Yes, absolutely (although I have to admit that I use an accountant these days!). I am at home to take the boys to school and here to pick them up, I never miss sports day, I see all the assemblies and special events and on the rare occasion that either is hurt or ill I can be there in five minutes and have them home. Don’t get me wrong, the days you slip out for the Reception Class “Stay and Play” can mean a 4am start or a late night to get things done, and I don’t get holidays like I did when I was employed (I don’t work, I don’t get paid) but I wouldn’t change a thing, despite the challenges.
I’m been asked by Dream Bear to write a number of pieces on top tips for working from home, information on staying on the right side of the tax man, boosting productivity, childcare, work life balance and more. If you’d like to see something specific please leave a comment or contact DB and I’ll see what I can do!