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Work At Home Parents

Frequently Asked Questions
by Liz Fretz
Will working at home solve all my problems?

No! In this life there are no simple answers to all our problems. However, working at home is a great compromise for many moms and dads that need to work or want to work and still want to be available for their children. Working at home comes with its own set of issues and this cubby is a great place to find tips and support for dealing with the unique situations facing work at home parents.

What kind of work do work at home parents do?

The kinds of work done at home are as varied and individual as the people doing the work. Many companies now offer telecommuting opportunities to their employees. Some parents start their own business or do free-lance work in their chosen career. Some parents have turned hobbies (e.g., baking, crafts, and scrap-booking) into profitable careers. The old-stand-bys such as Avon and Tupperware sales still exist for those who enjoy sales and marketing, but want to start with a product that already has brand recognition.

Will I feel isolated and how can I deal with that?

Parents who work at home often find themselves feeling isolated. In some cases, this problem is even more difficult for work at home parents, than it is for non-working stay at home parents. Even though they are home all day, working parents must meet schedules, produce deliverables, and satisfy their supervisor and/ or customer. Because of this, work at home parents may find they have less social interaction with other adults because they just can't head out to the play ground or join play groups whenever they're feeling lonely.

However, it is very important for all parents to find some balance in their life. It is important to take steps to avoid feeling isolated. Parents should set aside time in their schedule to met with colleagues. This could mean attending an occasional meeting at the office or meeting friends and colleagues after work for drinks or coffee. Work at home parents should also make sure they make time for interactions with other parents. Social interaction is necessary for our mental health, happiness, and well-being - all of which makes us better parents and more productive on the job.

If I telecommute will it have a negative impact on my career?

Work at home parents that are telecommuting to more traditional office environments do risk hitting the glass ceiling much sooner and at lower levels than other moms and dads who are working on site. The old adage, "Out of site, out of mind" is true. If someone isn't in the office everyday it is very easy to over look them when it's time for raises and promotions.

Even though my employer offers telecommuting as a benefit, they also seem to value "face time". How can I protect my career?

When you work at home, it is especially important to make sure that your management is happy with your work. Telecommuting and working at home are very new opportunities in many organizations. Those left at the office may be tempted to think telecommuters are just "hanging out at home" or "playing with the baby." In order to protect yourself and your career mobility, it is important to show your manager that you are producing the same amount (or more) work than your peers in the office. There are a few steps you can take to ensure your manager is happy with your work and your productivity:

  1. Make sure you and your manager agree on a clearly defined project with specific deliverables. It is important for both you and your manager to be able to measure your work. If your task or end products are not accurately defined up front, it will be difficult to show measurable progress. Worse yet, you might complete the wrong tasks.

  2. Create a project plan for yourself and share it with your manager. Be sure the project plan includes interim deliverables and other checkpoints so that you and your manager can be confident that you are achieving your goals.

  3. Stick to your project plan. Be sure that you make the deadlines you have set for yourself.

  4. Keep your manager in the loop. Deadlines can slip and often the slippage is caused by something out of your control. While you don't want to pester your supervisor with a ton of emails, make sure he or she is aware of any problems you have encountered and what you have done to resolve them. This way, if you do miss a deadline, your manager will understand the situation and not be tempted to blame it on the baby.
If I work at home will I still need childcare?

Maybe. A lot depends on the type of work that you will be doing, the number of hours that you expect to work, the temperament of your baby, and your personal work style. Some work at home moms also have a full time nanny to help with the childcare responsibilities. Other moms have no help at all. A nice compromise could include a neighborhood pre-teen or teenager that spends a couple of hours each afternoon with the baby to allow the work at home parent some uninterrupted quality work time.

How can I find work at home opportunities?

Work at home opportunities are as varied as the parents who work at home. Some places to look for work at home opportunities could be:

  1. The Human Resources Office of your current employer. Perhaps the job you currently have could be easily transformed into a work at home opportunity or maybe your current employer has other positions better suited to working at home. Whatever the case, if you are currently employed it never hurts to start looking where you already have an established reputation.

  2. Make your opportunity. Perhaps you have a skill that you could turn into a home-based business. One mom with a computer started a desktop publishing business. She created daily menus, price lists, letterhead, and other documents for small local businesses that didn't have their own computer. Other moms have turned hobbies into businesses - either selling their goods or teaching their techniques to others who were interested.

  3. Check with "headhunters" and placement agencies. Companies, both large and small, are starting to realize that they have to offer creative benefit packages that address work and family issues in order to attract the brightest and the best people in the work force. Just because your current employer doesn't offer work at home doesn't mean you can't find someone who will!
I just saw an advertisement that said I could make lots of quick money in my spare time. Should I call them?

Probably not. There are many scams out there and it's important to protect yourself. When looking for work at home opportunities there are a few things to avoid:

  1. Promises of Quick Money - Any opportunities that promises quick money is most likely a scam.

  2. Upfront Investments - Any opportunity that asks you to invest money upfront is most likely a pyramid scheme or other type of scam.

  3. Effort doesn't match Income - Any opportunity that promises a lot of money for just a few hours of work is most likely making promises that won't be fulfilled.

  4. Give it the "smell test" - Some opportunities may not make outrageous promises, but something just doesn't feel right. It's important to trust your instincts when doing anything that involves an investment of your time, money, or yourself.
This is just a short list of things to be mindful of when searching for your perfect work at home opportunity. Always be careful about providing personal information to an unknown source.

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