I’ve recently been part of several discussions regarding Work At Home Mums – and in fact, Work At Home Parents in general as there were a couple of Dads in on the conversation.
Some people are extremely open with the fact that they are parents who work from their home, blending work and family. Others disagree with their methods, believing that this image is unprofessional and therefore Work At Home Parents (WAHP) should portray the image of working in a ‘more professional’ setting.
These conversations usually digressed into various related topics, but supporters of each view were adament in their beliefs.
So what do I think? I don’t think there is a right or a wrong. I admit it… I work from a home-based office and I have a child (albeit he’s now in his mid-teens).
My business IS A REAL business. My office is real and is set up just as it would be were I renting premises outside of the home. I believe I am no less professional because it’s at my home. I work virtually – via the Internet, emails, fax – so I don’t have people visiting my office. In fact, I did have an office in a business district a couple of years ago and hated it. I was much less productive, wasting time driving there and back, plus there was too much noise and too many distractions around (including the tantalising aroma coming from the coffee shop next door!)
I believe that in order to run a professional, successful business and still be available for their children, WAHP need to have firm boundaries and systems in place. Children should be made aware of what is and isn’t acceptable and in times when your attention is distracted by family matters, don’t attempt to make business phone calls. Diverting your phone to a Virtual Assistant or Telephone Answering Service is not that expensive and ensures that your customers are still attended to without them feeling like they’re not important, or that your focus isn’t on their needs.
There’s no need to go shouting, “I’m a Work At Home Parent!” from the rooftops, but there’s no reason to hide the fact either.
Many WAHP I know don’t work standard hours. They may take time out during the day to spend with their children, but then they usually make up for this after hours. Some clients may not like the fact that you’re not necessarily always available from 9-5 Monday to Friday (but then who is?), yet I’m sure they won’t complain when you are there to help them with some urgent task after hours.
In summing up, I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer here. The main thing is to find what works for you and your customers.
What are your views? I’d love to hear your comments on this topic.
Here’s to your business success…