On working from home
I’d like to share with you a secret about what happens when I work from home… I work. From home.
People often ask me if I can work at home. I think they ask me this because they can’t, because when they ‘work from home’ because ‘the gas man is coming’ they are actually arsing around and don’t get much done.
I do get that. I actively chose not to work from home in all of my other jobs because I thought I needed the discipline of getting up and going out. So when I started self employment I was unsure if I’d be able to do it. I set up an office in my spare room and I thought I’d try that out to see if I could work there, otherwise I thought I might rent a desk in a shared office in town. As it turns out there was no need. I have no problem working from home. Otherwise I wouldn’t do it.
See I’m not just ‘working from home’ as a bit of a skive.
I am running a business. And I take this very seriously. I am not working from home as an easy option, it is a business decision. Working from home means I don’t need to pay any rental on office space, which means that I have fewer outgoings and liabilities, which means I can charge my clients less. With charity clients and in this economy that is a good thing. It makes my prices more competitive and my business more sustainable.
And whilst I am running this business I have things I need to do and clients I need to please and deadlines I need to meet. When I’m not servicing client contracts I need to be working on new business development and marketing. If I don’t do all of this, I don’t get any income. Yes. None.
I’m not on a salary. If I don’t work I don’t get any money at all.
But what of the flexibility that working from home affords? Am I not constantly led into temptation? Well yes I work flexibly to suit my working style. But 90% of the time this results in my actually doing a fairly standard working day. Give or take half an hour at either end I generally start at 10am and work solidly until 1pm, then I watch TV – often a business programme like Hotel Inspector or something about social issues – then I work solidly from 2pm until 6pm. Then I go for a swim. It makes a massive difference to me to be able to start a bit later and I am at my most productive late afternoon. None of my previous jobs have accommodated this too well, so it is lovely to have that flexibility. But I do work solidly. I don’t break the time with TV or cleaning or cooking or putting the washing on. I sit at my desk and I work. Occasionally I vary things but that is pretty much always for convenience – for example if I’m already out at a meeting I might have a swim or get my groceries or even have a haircut, but then I’ll probably extend the working day a bit later to compensate. Fair enough I don’t have a boss breathing down my neck telling me to get back to my desk, but I do prefer not to be taking three-hour long lunches and bunking off for no good reason. I have things to do.
As a lifestyle entrepreneur I’m not looking to work 24/7 but I am looking to do a standard working week / year as I have in all of my other jobs. And having been working as a consultant for eleven years I do have a feel for how much I should be able to get done. I do believe that I should be able to run a successful consultancy business within those time boundaries.
This is my business – I want to do it properly and I want to earn sufficient income to keep myself. This doesn’t just happen around me, I have to make it happen myself. So when I’m ‘working from home’ I need to actually work. And I love my job, so why wouldn’t I?