ask the expert | your questions about working from home

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a guest post from our build a little biz partner & 'work at home expert'. Leah Gibbs is the Business Manager and Founder of Work At Home Mumsand theLifestyle Careers Job Board.She runs herbusinesses from home and as a work at home mum (WAHM). 

So many people these days want the flexibility that a work from home career provides, but most of them don’t think it’s possible.  Many people associate work from home opportunities with scams and pyramid schemes, so they dismiss the desire they have to work from home. I would like to answer some common questions about working from home, and help put your fears to rest.

What kind of work can be done from home?

You would be surprised at just how much can be done from home thanks to technology.  People who work from home do all sorts of jobs – from customer service and sales through to marketing consulting, web and graphic design.  If you have a computer, headset and a good, reliable internet and phone connection, there are so many different jobs you can do.

Do people have to do any work on their home e.g. renovations in order to be able to work there?

It all depends upon the work people want to do from home.  If you are a writer and you are seeking freelancing opportunities to write from home, all you need is an area in your home to set your computer up on with an internet and phone connection.  If on the other hand, you would like to start a home business such as a hair salon, you will naturally need to undertake renovation at work to convert your garage into a salon. 

What are the pros of working from home?

There are so many pros to be enjoyed by working from home, and your lifestyle will really determine what those pros are likely to be.  The common ones though:

  • Avoiding the commute to and from work;
  • Being able to work your own hours;
  • Being able to wear whatever clothing you want;
  • Being able to look after your children and save money on childcare costs;
  • Not having to put up with office politics;
  • Enjoying the benefits of being your own boss (if you’re in business) without the overheads of a commercial premises;
  • Having the flexibility to do what you want, when you want; and
  • Having the ability to live anywhere you want and still do work you love.
  • Flexible working also benefits society by reducing traffic and pollution, prosperity in rural areas, increased employment opportunities for the disabled and increased sense of community focus.
  • You can watch TV or listen to music and work at the same time because you won’t be disrupting another office employee

What are the cons?

It should be recognized that flexible working does not suit everyone. Some people prefer the structured, work day and perform better when they are surrounded by their Colleagues. However, there are a great many people who are well suited to flexible working patterns and who not only improve their productivity but greatly enhance their own quality of life.  Working from home isn’t for everybody, because some people struggle with the following:

  • If you aren’t self-motivated, don’t have proven self-discipline and don’t have the capacity to begin your work on the same schedule as those who commuted to the actual business office, you may have some immediate challenges.
  • Not getting out of the house to go to work;
  • Isolation of not working with other people each day;
  • Balancing home duties with the responsibilities that come with working from home.
  • Constant interruptions by a spouse, children, and friends who know you’re home all day
  • You can become a workaholic or office junkie who’s trapped in a routine that is destined to result in personal burnout.

Overall, despite the cons, working from home has caught on in a big way, as more and more people see the advantages of earning a living from the comfort of their own home

Are you aware of any tax benefits that can be gained from working at home? Are people eligible for anything special?

If you are working from home and it is a part of your own business, then you will be able to claim expenses and input tax benefits.  Expenses can include things such as furniture you buy for your work at home, e.g. desks and chairs.  You can claim the cost of these as an expense associated with generating your income at tax time.  And whenever you pay GST for items and services you pay for that you need for your work at home, you can claim the GST as an input tax credit when you lodge your Business Activity Statement (BAS).  For full details on the tax advantages, definitely talk to your accountant and check with the ATO to find out what business expenses you may claim.

Does working from home help or hinder a good work/life balance?

Working from home definitely provides you with a great opportunity to achieve a good work/life balance.  This is only possible though when you draw that clear line in the sand and set solid boundaries.  Set your working hours, so you have quality time for your family and those essential household chores.  Do this and you will achieve a good work/life balance.  When people fail to draw that all-important line in the sand, that’s when the work/life balance suffers, along with the wellbeing of the individual and their family.

Is working at home hard to maintain? What are the pitfalls?

Not at all, provided you have in place that solid line in the sand that protects your quality home/family time.  In other words, you need to be firm when it comes to your work time and you need to plan your time well, so your work life and your home/family life can co-exist and thrive.  The pitfalls of working from home predominantly concern maintaining a healthy work/life balance, and you can avoid this by keeping to my advice of drawing that line in the sand.  I also advise people to build a strong support network around them, preferably of others who also work from home.  This helps people to not feel isolated working from home, and it provides people with a community to network with when they need to get some new ideas – or even if they want to vent!

What's your advice to anyone looking to begin working at home?

Have a good think about what you really want to do.  What do you enjoy doing?  What are you good at doing?  What, in your mind, is the ideal way to make money from home?  Make a list of what you love and what sort of lifestyle you want, and then create what you believe your dream, work at home career will be.  Then go out there and find an opportunity that allows you to make that a reality, or create a business that allows you do achieve it.

Is there a place where I can find jobs that I can do from home?

Lifestyle Careers is an online recruitment job board which I created to put people in touch with genuine work from home opportunities which include flexible employment, freelancing positions, telecommuting positions and legitimate business opportunities.

If you are a professional looking for a flexible work arrangement then you are in the right place. We have a large and growing number of clients throughout Australia and New Zealand who support our aims and who can offer fulfilling career opportunities whilst still enabling you to achieve your work-life balance.

Leah Gibbs is the Founder and Business Manager of Lifestyle Careers. Lifestyle Careers is an online recruitment job board. Our niche and specific focus is the advertising of flexible employment and work at home positions. It is designed for professionals wanting to balance their work and personal life.