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How to work from home

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Fancy homeworking? It sounds like the perfect solution to the work life balance and it's green too since it cuts down on commuting time. But how do you find a homeworking job, how can you be sure it is right for you and how can you get the most out of it?
This may seem absurd, but the first thing to do is to ensure that the job you are doing can be done at home. Homeworking is particularly suitable for research, data inputting and projects that need concentration and focus. It may not be suitable for other jobs which require a lot of face to face meetings.
Consider whether you are the kind of person who likes working alone. If you aren't, but really want the flexibility of homeworking some days, you could see if it is possible to combine homeworking with going into the office for a few days a week so that you get regular contact with your colleagues.
Negotiate with your employer. Many organisations now offer some form of homeworking to employees. Sometimes, these opportunities are advertised straight out. In other cases, it is a question of negotiating a deal with your existing employer or asking for an element of homeworking in negotiations for a new position. Don’t request the impossible and remember that some jobs just can’t be done from home. Currently, you have to be in a job for six months before you are legally entitled to request flexible working. Be sure to make a good business case for homeworking, for instance, work like research and strategic planning can be done better away from the office phones. Ask at interview about how homeworking is managed by the organisation. Managers should set manageable targets for you so that you know you are achieving them and it is helpful if you can have regular meetings to see if they are working and what can be done to ensure that you meet them.
Respond to adverts. An increasing number of jobs are advertised as wholly homeworking, as technological advances including broadband and teleconferencing, make this much easier. These include home-based estate agents, telesales and customer services. You could also set up your own businesses or run a franchise working from home.
Do your research. Many people worry that homeworking offers might be a scam. Most websites offering homeworking jobs will advise candidates to do their own research, even if they also check out the organisation before they put them up. You should do an internet search on the organisation and ask for contacts with others who have worked for the company.
If you are a parent wanting homeworking so you can have more work life balance, ensure you have childcare in place. It is very difficult to work when trying to look after children, no matter how placid they are.
Ensure your work station at home meets with health and safety standards. Your employer should do a check for you. Keep your home office space entirely distinct from other parts of the house so work papers don't get mixed up with homework. If necessary, install a second phoneline for work calls only.
Is your computer up to scratch for the work you need to do and do you have a back-up if it crashes? This is vital. Ensure you discuss technical issues with your potential employer.
You will need to ensure you have the right internet connections for work, eg, broadband. Again talk this over with your potential employer and discuss at an early stage issues like the phone bill and how you ensure your employer pays for work-related calls. For instance, you might want to install a work line to make things simpler and to distinguish work from home related calls. Again, your employer should cover these costs.
Avoid isolation. This is one of the big issues with homeworking. If you are attached to an organisation, you should try to ensure that you have regular communication with the office. Communication is harder to do properly from remote, but it is possible. Ring the office regularly and keep in email contact. If you can make sure you go into the office on a regular basis, if only for a meeting to catch up with what is going on, including the gossip, and to ensure you do not feel sidelined. Whatever your homeworking set-up, use social networking to link up with others in your field and make sure you get out of the house from time to time for face to face meetings.
Good luck!
Do your research.
Make a good business case.
Have the right technology.
Avoid isolation.


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