Last year, official stats by the TUC revealed that the number of homeworkers has gone up by nearly a quarter of a million in the last decade.
At the last count, that was 1.5 million people working from home every day.
The trend toward setting up home businesses has grown significantly in recent years. One business provider cited a 60 per cent increase in people buying virtual office address products in 2016/2017 compared to 2015/2016, and a 94 per cent year-on-year increase in people wanting a virtual address in London as they seek to create an air of prestige in spite of their residential base. Indeed, Google’s own data shows a rise in the number of people searching for phrases around working from home, with searches for ‘work from home’ having increased 100 per cent since 2012.
But what does ‘working from home’ really look like, and is it the right option for you? Here, we asked home-workers to share their secret confessions for a true picture of life outside of the office.
Dress to impress…?
It’s been said that entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and the late Steve Jobs wore the same outfit everyday as a means of saving the time usually spent on selecting an outfit for use on more important tasks.
For those of us based in the office, the choice of what to wear can be a challenging one, especially when we’re rushing to get the kids ready and beat the morning rush, too. But as homeworkers, that problem is eradicated by the fact that, on the whole, they don’t have to think about what to wear – or even, in some cases, getting dressed at all!
“If I’m having an off day, I will work from the sofa on my laptop. I try not to do this as often as it doesn’t allow me to switch off in the evenings but I’ll have a cheeky day or two.
“I also put my dressing gown and slippers on when I’m cold or just want to be comfortable. I never work in my PJs, and always get dressed, but they are nice home comforts. Though my neighbours must think I never work as they’re always seeing me snuggled!” – Hayley Smith, owner of Boxed Out PR
“The other day I did three hours of work un-showered and still in the stinky gym clothes that I’d done my morning workout in, with unbrushed teeth. I finally took a break, had a shower and brushed my teeth at nearly 11am.” – Sophie Le Brozec, founder of www.sophielebrozec.com
Practice what you preach…?
Whether you’re running your own business or working for someone else, we all recognise the importance reputation and the impression we give. But while we’d all like to say we practice what we preach, that’s not always the case… According to our homeworkers, the temptation to neglect that image can be powerful, from time to time.
“I run my business from home in my job as a personal trainer. Although I lead a fit and healthy lifestyle 95 per cent of the time, there are some things that my clients would be shocked if only they knew!
“Writing diet plans always makes me hungry; I quite often sit eating whilst writing them and I’ve even been known to plan a healthy eating programme for a client whilst eating a takeaway (in my defence I was working on a Saturday night)!
“I also send motivational weekend texts whilst lying in bed not wanting to get up… and as my house is always busy with kids and dogs, I’m always taking calls from clients whilst helping my kids with their homework. Multitasker is my middle name!” – Sarah Winn, personal trainer at FitSista
“I had a funny moment working from home one day last month. I was trying on fancy dress outfits – the full Batman outfit as it happens.
“As I’m checking myself out in the mirror with my front door ajar, the next thing I know a really important council officer turns up to discuss the planning application I had recently submitted. He gave me some slightly confused and judgemental looks; it was only 9am on a Tuesday after all! I’m a serious business man, so let’s just say this ‘look’ did not match my reputation.” – Maximillian de Kment, CEO of Saxe Coburg
Multitask for maximum efficiency…?
Returning home from a day at the office, for many of us, our work is not yet done. With children to look after, washing to be done and a whole variety of chores awaiting us, it can be hours before we finally take our seat on the sofa to relax.
A common myth of homeworking is that we can multitask to get all these things done during our working day. But is that the case? No, according to our homeworkers.
“Without a doubt my most embarrassing moment has been this: I was on a conference call with 9 clients sitting in their boardroom 30 miles away, my boss sitting in our office 10 miles away and me, on mute, at home with a two-year-old. It was all fine until I accidentally took myself off mute and announced loudly to all participants ‘do you want mummy to tuck you in?'” – Emma Stewart, sales and marketing director at Cofficient
“The main issue I have with working from home is getting distracted by the to-do list that accumulates around the house. I tend to think that five minutes here and there tidying/fixing won’t matter, but I ultimately lose time out of my working day.
“I also find that people think you should be available 24/7 and on weekends because I work from home/freelance so that tends to be a matter of establishing boundaries and expectations with clients.” – Abigail McAlpine, founder of Cups of Content and PhD researcher in cybersecurity and online privacy at the University of Huddersfield.
“I often get disrupted by my dog, usually if she is wanting to play, or if she has stolen something she shouldn’t have, and I have to try and wrestle it off her. I found her the other day chewing through one of the bathroom towels!” – Beck Lee, web designer at Impression
The work-life balance
For many of us, the main lure of working from home is a better work-life balance.
But the reality of home-working is just that; your home becomes your place of work. That means the physical split of home to work life is affected, and the lines between the two can become blurred, as our homeworkers suggested.
“So my favourite moment ‘confession’ was the day I forgot I had a client arriving for therapy, for their initial consultation. What I had remembered is that I had someone coming to my house, also where my office is, to collect a set of pans that I had sold. So when the lady arrived for therapy, I took her to my garage and gave her some pans. She was horrified.” – Charlotte Williams, owner and therapist at Tweedale Therapies
“Working from home means being on first name basis with the postman, knowing his whole life story and occasionally trying to entice him into your home for coffee because some days he’s the only real life human you speak to!” – Joanne Dewberry, founder of www.joannedewberry.co.uk
Sylvia Schwartz is the manager at Company Address, a UK based company that sells address services and mail forwarding to start-ups and growing businesses.