Whats your home office like?
By DIANE STAFFORD
The Kansas City Star
At least one in 10 Americans spends at least some time each week working from home. Census data show that half of home-based workers are self-employed.
Some efficiency studies give high marks for the productivity of home-based workers. Theres no time-sapping commute. And many have the self control to stay on task.
Honestly, though, some people arent very good at it.
Kids, laundry, pets, the refrigerator ...all compete for attention. It requires discipline and, in some sense, isolation to work productively at home.
Thats why its vital to carve out a dedicated home office, not the dining room table. Household intrusions dont just interrupt you. They affect your image to clients.
Unless you live alone, you should have a door that closes, not only for quiet but to protect your work materials. Ideally, you have a phone line and a computer dedicated to work, not something you share.
Ideally, too, you have a set work routine you get dressed and go to the office. Friends and family should know when youre at work and respect that time.
I do a lot of my work on the phone, and I can vouch that each conversation provides an audio window into the other persons work environment. Fair or not, a barking dog or crying child conveys a less than professional image.
The latest Census report also said that one-fourth of home-based workers are in management, business or financial occupations. They likely compete with professionals who are backed up by an array of office advantages, including equipment and an IT help squad.
The lure of working in your slippers may be enticing. But its hard to stay motivated, equipped and supported to maintain a credible business.
Thats why its especially important for work-at-homers to join professional associations and be active participants in educational and networking meetings.
As much as you need to be isolated to be efficient, you also need to break that isolation to grow your business.