"Will Work From Home" Book Excerpt

Your career could improve. You might have more time and energy for professional associations and networking because of a shorter workday.

You'll save money on gas, car maintenance, and parking fees, not to mention business clothes, lunches out, and gifts for coworkers.

You may be able to work part-time, full-time, or during nonbusiness hours. If there's no set time you have to be at your desk, you can work weekends or nights in order to reduce or eliminate the need for child care.

You can participate more in your community as a volunteer or go to a doctor without clearing it with your boss. You can be home with a sick child, travel more with your spouse, and possibly relocate without changing jobs.

A virtual job can widen your career prospects, particularly if you live in a remote area or in a high-unemployment market.

It feels great when you have more control over your life or more cash in the bank. Saving time and money while gaining peace of mind can be a perfect working solution.

Some Precautions

The arrangement is not for everyone. Working from home is still work. No one makes $1,000 a week stuffing envelopes -- that's a scam. A job at home usually demands the same level of professionalism, focus, and determination as one at the office, sometimes even more.

You'll need to convert some space in your home to an office, and equip it with the technology to communicate with the outside world. You'll also have to learn how to avoid home distractions during working hours and ignore business calls during family time.

You may still need to pay for child care because professional work and toddlers don't mix.

You could lose health-care insurance, vacation, and other benefits, as many jobs from home are for contract workers. This is not as big a drawback if your income is secondary to the household budget. It's a much larger consideration if you're the sole breadwinner.

If you're a contractor, consultant, or small-business owner, you'll need to keep good financial records for tax purposes. The upside is you'll be able to write off business expenses.

If you are an employee with benefits, being at home might slow down your career advancement. This doesn't have to be, but you'll need to know ways to remind your boss that you're working just as hard, or harder, than your coworkers in the office.

Finally, it takes a certain kind of personality to work successfully from home. It helps to be a self-starter and problem solver.

Managing your time and work flow will be your responsibility. If you're an extrovert who thrives on relationships, or works best with input from team members, being at home by yourself isn't going to feel comfortable. It might even make you miserable.

One person's reward may be another's stumbling block. The quiet of home might be a haven to one and sheer boredom to another. Your chances of success improve when you know what's important to you and have realistic expectations. Every new job or life change has a learning curve and some trade-offs. Your job search will require some introspection and assessment, goal-setting, research, and effort, but you don't have to do it alone.

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