Bookworm: 'Working from Home'

You ate dinner in front of the TV last night.


It wasn’t because there was something good on. No, you balanced your plate on your lap and took careful bites because you’ve been working from home lately and the table is full of job-related things.

Working from home saves you time and money and you’d love to make it permanent. You’re not sure, though, how to convince the boss that your two-minute commute is in his best interest, but if you read Working from Home by Jane Jerrard, you’ll get some ideas.

Jammies and slippers. That’s what a lot of people imagine when they think of working from home. Feet up, PJs on.

“The reality,” says Jane Jerrard, “is that working from home is not all free time and cozy flannel.”

You might not have much discretionary time at all. Work hours may be much longer, but productivity may be higher.

That’s perhaps the biggest reason employers are increasingly allowing staff to work remotely: research shows that productivity goes up 27 percent, unscheduled absences are cut by more than half, and attrition is lowered when employees work from home. It also benefits employees by saving money on commutes and clothing and lowering stress.

Okay, so you’ve convinced the boss. Or maybe you’ve decided that you want to be the boss, so you’re starting your own business. Now what?

First, are the distractions at home kept to a minimum? Are there limitations on your availability at home? Are you someone who thrives by working individually? And do you have a dedicated space from which to work?

Once you’ve ironed out all the details and have set up a home office, remember to avoid the “Three Danger Zones.” Stay motivated, says Jerrard, stay professional, and stay connected. Use a good calendar to keep focused. Dress the part, even if you don’t need to. Communicate with on-site co-workers and catch up on the gossip.

If you’re self-employed, know your local codes and laws. Formalize your business and familiarize yourself with IRS rules. Have a good lawyer, good insurance and a good security system. Plan for growth, and for the day you decide to call it quits.

As a work-at-homer, I’m always looking for great ideas. I’d hoped to find something fresh here, and I did – but not much.

Jerrard starts at the rock-bottom beginning, and that’s good – but it’s also very basic. For job-seekers, she explains how to find a position that allows for remote work and how to set up and behave in a work-from-home situation. Then she explains what one would need for self-employment. Again, that’s great but it’s also rudimentary, brief (given the small size of this book), and not so helpful for someone with experience in business.

This isn’t a bad book. I think it’s perfect for a young, inexperienced, eager overthinker who’s dying to be entrepreneurial. But if taking work home with you is nothing new, then Working from Home is something you’ll want to table – permanently.