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The Work-At-Home Challenge


For new mothers, and even single women, working from home is becoming a respectable alternative to the demands of the rat race, and may be the ideal way to have your cake and eat it too.

You have a good academic record and an impressive CV. You’ve been doing extremely well at your day time job. But now you’re a mother, and you feel your child will be grossly neglected if you rejoin the rat race.

However, the idea of just being an apron clad housewife and changing diapers day and night doesn’t appeal to you either. You feel you need to balance your career and your household duties. Working from home may be the ideal way for you to have a fulfilling career as well as a happy household.

Though it’s usually married women, especially those with children, who work from home, there are single women working from home too. The reasons single women prefer to work from home may be that they like working independently and wish to avoid office politics.

Which professions could one easily adapt to operating from home? Shivani Manchanda, Director of Career Counselling Centre, Career Track answers, “Several careers in software, education, consultancy, finance, research, writing, designing, of that of a family physician or a psychologist, can blend in with a work from home environment, not to mention the more traditional women oriented careers like running a beauty parlour, crèche, Montessori school, catering and cooking classes.”

The advantages of working from home may outnumber the disadvantages, but only if you apply a degree of self-discipline.

Advantages of working from home

Having a happy home as well as a successful career:

Haven’t we heard so many times how difficult it is to juggle a career with household chores? With your kitchen right next to your office it may not be as difficult. You don’t have to leave your child in a crèche and always be worried if he’s being looked after properly. Your child’s crib may be right next to your work desk helping you to keep a watchful eye on your child as you work.

Numerologist Dimpy Chopra, who’s always worked from home, speaks from personal experience “The home is not neglected and children don’t feel left out when the mother is working from home. Nuclear families with just servants running the house may suffer more than joint families if the mother can’t be at home. So it should be a welcome move if more mothers from nuclear families like these work from home.”

Saving time, energy and money commuting:

Freelance writer, Niti Tandon, who quit her daytime job after she became a mother, says, “I can save time on travelling and thereby reduce the onslaught of being outdoors in pollution, harsh sunlight or severe winter.”

The pleasure of working independently: If you’ve always felt dissatisfied taking orders from a bad boss, working from home may come as a boon for you as you are your own boss. Architect Lavannya Goradia who works from home, says, “I gave up my day time job because of the lack of freedom and unethical principles of my firm. I am very happy working from home instead. Working from home helps me to enjoy the benefits of flexible timings and the biggest advantage is that I can work late into the night whenever I feel like.”

Here are some tips to manage a successful career from home.

Create an office environment at home:

If you get up late and leisurely start working munching chips in night clothes with your lap top resting on a cozy bed with the television on airing your favourite soap you won’t get any work done. You can only be your boss if you’ve inculcated some self-discipline.

Set specific hours for work and domestic chores. Avoid distractions like chatting online for non-business purposes and watching TV. Niti Tandon makes sure to distribute her time judiciously between taking care of her infant son and writing. “I work from home when my son sleeps, during which there is hardly any noise in the house. If I receive calls from my family, I generally ask them to speak later so that I can spend time on my work during those valuable hours.”

Create an office corner in your house. If necessary put up a sign on the front door with your name and profession. If you set up a clinic, studio or office room where you interact with clients make it look as professional as possible.

Also, get ready for work. You may not necessarily have to wear crisp ironed clothes if you’re working alone in your own room, but do freshen up and change into day clothes before sitting on your work desk. It’ll make you feel more professional, boost motivation and enhance your performance.

Meet deadlines at work diligently:

Unfortunately some employers hold a prejudice against women working from home. Explains Shivani, “I think people are prejudiced against anything that defies the norm. But from personal experience, I can say that once you deliver a product on time and give good service, you get repeat business.

Prejudice exists because prospective employers are unsure of how much a woman working from home can be self motivated without anyone to supervise them.” So meeting deadlines regularly with quality work is a must to win the trust of employers.

Try to garner full family support in working from home: Unfortunately women working from home are often taken for granted by their own family members. “If your family doesn’t take your career seriously just because you are working from home and doesn’t ever lend a helping hand in any household chores from answering the doorbell to cooking it is of great discouragement and inconvenience.”

Whereas a family that appreciates the sacrifice a woman is making by working from home is of great encouragement. Agrees Niti Tandon, “My husband keeps encouraging me to work from home. He even suggested I send our son to school at a younger age and to keep a maid, so that I get enough time to work from home.”

Ensure you get paid on time:

Dimpy Chopra shares her payment plight, noting that, “Often clients don’t mind giving me work but after the successful completion of the task when a payment has to be made they say oh, we thought it was a hobby as you are after all working from home”.

Create your own portfolio and make sure prospective clients go through it before you accept any work from them. If appropriate, clearly state your fees in the portfolio. Print visiting cards and distribute them. Or take part of the payment in advance.

Try to fill the void of not having human company at work:

Sometimes working from home becomes monotonous and lonely as you rarely interact with other people or colleagues. To make up for that void, you could arrange your timetable to include outdoor assignments, meetings, business networking events that involve human interaction, alongside the work you do indoors. You could also take up volunteer work or an interactive hobby.

Keep your CV updated:

Make sure you keep your career goals and objectives in mind while working from home. Monitor your career growth from time to time and keep updating your CV. “If you rejoin a day-job after working from home for a while your employer may not consider a real gap in your career if you have taken care to document the work you have done over years,” advises Shivani.

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