Working from home ideas and know-how
Home working: There are ways to make it easier
Working from home sounds like the ideal scenario - you get paid but don’t have to spend half the day battling traffic or public transport and you can work your hours around childcare. Win win. Well, yes, but it’s not always that black and white and it very much depends on the role you have and what you expect to achieve.
There are changes you will need to make to make working from home a feasible reality. If the job you had pre-baby is allowing you to work from home, you will still need to organise childcare. The baby may sleep for hours at lunchtime right now but as they get older, the daytime naps get shorter and you need to keep work and family life separate or else you’ll feel like you’re doing neither of your ‘roles’ well. So your child care bill - whether you use a creche, minder or relative - stays the same but you will save on travel costs, work clothes and lunches.
You’ll want to set up a proper work environment at home. Make sure you have a proper sized desk and chair and place for your paperwork and all your other office paraphernalia. Even if you can’t designate a spare room as your office – try to designate a space where you can walk away at the close of business and leave it all behind you.
Distractions are rife at home. It may be tempting to put on a wash or call a friend - and say you’ll catch up with your duties later - but it’s better to stick to a routine the same way you would if you were in the office. You need to shut out the postman, the pile of ironing and the fact that the ceiling needs plastering. If you don’t focus on the job at hand, then your employer may reconsider the work from home option altogether. It has to be an arrangement that suits you both and it has to make business sense.
It can be lonely working at home, and you may lack the camaraderie of the workplace - but keep in touch with colleagues by phone or email - it will make you still feel part of the team. Make time to have regular screen breaks and take lunch - occasionally go out for a walk or perhaps a bite to eat as you would at work - you need to keep your energy levels up and you will benefit from a change of scenery. Don’t be a martyr for the cause, there’s only so much you can achieve in a day.
If your employer does not agree to you home working or doing your old job at home doesn’t appeal, you may opt for a different line of home work - one that offers even more flexibility. Examples of common working from home options include:
Childminding: Ideal for some as you can mind your own children at the same time. Pay is not typically high and it can involve early starts and late finishes to make a feasible living. However, that flexibility may suit you. Childminders usually work in their own home - or sometimes the home of the child being minded. Anyone who does this for more than two hours a day for payment or reward must, by law, be registered as a childminder. In England and Wales, you’ll need to be trained in early years childcare and the EYFS framework. You will also need to take a paediatric first-aid course.
Party selling/network marketing: This involves selling a company’s products to friends, neighbours and acquaintances. You may distribute a catalogue, or sell at parties or through social networks. If you choose a product that you are interested in, you will find it easier to sell. If you’re a quiet, reserved sort of person then Ann Summers is probably not the route to take. Then again you need to be a fairly confident, outgoing person to make a living in this way. One of the great pluses is that parties tend to be in the evening, so as long as you have a partner with regular hours, there would be no additional childcare costs. It’s a great way to catch up with old friends and make some new ones.
Freelance work: You may be a writer or a beautician - if you have the get-up-and-go you can make this work but you need to establish a good client base or make provision for unreliable income. Also be prepared for plenty of paperwork.
Whatever you decide to do, just remember be as organised and focused as you would be in the office. And leave work behind you once you clock off!