Will Working From Home Hinder Your Productivity and Hurt Your Image?

working from homeBy 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."

Next: Companies Hiring

Stories from Readers Digest

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.

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Chelsea Szczerba

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October 01 2012 at 3:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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February 16 2012 at 3:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Want to start your own Home business . Now you can zero start up . And make enough money that you can retire in 24 months . And when you sign up . They even give you a free web site to promote your new business . No monthly charge for the site . Go to www.retireby2014.com Watch the videos they will explain everything . Then get on my Waiting list . I will contact you as soon as I can get you in .

June 26 2011 at 5:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm 58, a Graphic Designer and have worked freelance most of my working career, even when I was employed on staff. After almost 35+ years working for someone else, I made the decision to 'retire' about 4 years ago, becoming fully self-employed and working from my home office. My wife, who still works full-time for our local school district as a learning support aide and enjoys full medical benefits, fully supported my decision to do so. And while I don't always receive a steady paycheck, I have managed to exceed my previous level of income while enjoying the total flexibility and independence that comes with working for yourself. And while it's sometimes lean, the benefits FAR outweigh the negatives, at least as far as I'm concerned... I don't have to punch anyone's clock, worry about how long I take for lunch or when to take a day off or schedule a vacation, and that is, as the saying goes, is 'priceless.'

But self-employment is surely not for everyone... most of our friends think I'm out of my mind, but in their hearts are simply envious of what I do. The fact is, most people don't have a clue as to what they would do, how they would do it or most of all have the balls to actually make the decision to do so. And I can guarantee that even though I am 'my own boss,' I work WAY more hours, including nights, weekends and holidays to service my clients or work on the many other business ventures I have undertaken since becoming independent. Sure, I work hard, suffer the problems and hardships associated with self-employment, but at the same time reap and enjoy the rewards that comes with self-employment.

Having been unemployed and gone through a few corporate downsizings and cut-backs in my working career, I vowed to NEVER again be the victim of the dreaded 'pink slip,' again and be in constant fear of losing my job virtually overnight. I'm fortunate enough to be blessed with many talents and have found the strength and courage to take charge of my life and do whatever I needed to do in order to make my own way in this perilous economy. I will never, EVER work for ANYONE again, and will probably never fully retire in the traditional sense... I have much that I still wish to accomplish.

June 24 2011 at 8:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

why should one care how one dress,when once is horking at home as long as the work get done

June 24 2011 at 6:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I used to work from home as a Graphic Designer. I'd roll out of bed by 8, throw on a robe, make some coffee and go to work. I'd work till about noon or so, take a break, grab some lunch, maybe run a few errands, then work for another 3 hours, take another break, play my drums for an hour, back to the drawing board, work a couple more hours.. Before I knew it I'd put in my 8-10 hour day. I was working for a large company so 2 or 3 times a week I'd go in, turn in my work, get my next assignment and that was that. Never had to have any clients come to my house and always dressed professionally when dealing with my clients at the company, always got my work in on time, it was the best of both worlds. I'm pretty disciplined so except for getting a little sidetracked with my drums I could stay pretty focused on the work at hand. Sometimes if I wanted to take say, a long weekend I'd just bust my ass and work a few 12-14 hour days, get my 40+ hours in and be on a plane to San Diego come Thursday night. (had a squeeze down there so this made it considerably easier to spend some time with her than working a typical 9 to 5). I live in the SF bay area and could be in San Diego within a couple hours. It was a great gig and would do it again anytime...

June 24 2011 at 5:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Future E

I love working at home. I have for over 12 years. The website BestTopJobs has a FREE list of work at home jobs offered by real employers. I save money on gas, lunches, clothing and day care by working as an employee at my home. Good luck!

June 24 2011 at 5:53 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I worked from home as an independent contractor. I had ZERO CUSTOMER CONTACT (which is exactly the way I like it). The best part was being able to work barefoot in shorts, have good music playing (not that office crap), and ZERO OFFICE POLITICS! It was good money too, it's not for everyone and the work was irregular. I'm considering doing it again sometime and I would recommend it to anyone who thinks a commute should be a six foot walk from their bed to their desk.

June 24 2011 at 5:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have worked at home for 7 years and I had a really hard time learning how to keep work time separate from free time, I have finally figured it out, I set regular working hours and try to stick to them, I close the door to my office when I leave and ignore the phone ringing, (this was hard to do at first). Now that I have learned how to keep my work schedule and my personal time separate, I am very happy, no special clothing and no cost of driving to and from a job.

June 24 2011 at 5:28 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Lets back this up a bit ...When you call us customer service ppl shut your yapping dogs and whiney kids screaming in the phone up so we can do our jobs how about that ?and you wonder why your order gets screwed up hmm its cause WE cant hear you for your kids and dogs !!!! why becaue most of these companies aremso large they dont miss your business anyway...and hey next time you call lose the Im doing you a favor calling attitude as well actually just lose the attitude period they are there to help you !!! YOU want their help they didnt call you YOU , YOU called them so be a bit nicer for a change I can promise you will get much better service and hey if you hear a dog or child so what was it the end of the world for you ??? Ever thought that shes a mom woking working doing the best she can to raise her children?? and laying on her a$$ collecting welfare !

June 24 2011 at 5:03 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
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