Working from home gives women flexiblity, income

Friday, August 3, 2012
Sherilyn Borders, owner of My 3 Sweets, adds buttercream icing to her mini-cupcakes. (Fred Lynch)

For many women, going to work means heading out the door and driving several miles to an office or other place of employment. But for a growing number of women, "going to work" doesn't involve a commute or dealing with traffic; these women are earning an income by working from home.

"I love the flexibility and being in complete control of my schedule, but I often find myself starting and stopping multiple tasks throughout the day," says Carol Nunnery, an independent advanced director with Pampered Chef in Cape Girardeau. "I have been incredibly blessed to be allowed to earn a full-time income while working my schedule around my boys' schedules."

Tammy Monia, an independent contractor who does medical transcription from home in Cape Girardeau, agrees that the flexibility is a definite plus when working from home. "Most days I take the youngest to school, come home and work until around 2:30 p.m.," she says. "I then have the freedom to spend time at their track meets, cheer practices, etc. If I haven't finished my 1,200 lines for the day, which varies, a lot of evenings I sign back on around 7 or 8 p.m. and work a few more hours."

And while Monia is doing her work, her kids do their own homework in the same room. "It slows me down a bit, but we all interact and help each other, and I love that we can all be together."

Keeping one's personal and professional life separate can also be a challenge for women who work from home.

"The business is always around you, so you must learn to set time for work and time for family," says Sherilyn Borders, owner of My 3 Sweets, a home-based baking business in Cape Girardeau. "Having a toddler in my house makes it more challenging, so I tend to do my work in the evenings when my husband is home and can help me with the kids. In the beginning, I struggled with time management. Now I know how long something is going to take, so I try to block out the right amount of time each day to get a particular job done."

Nunnery agrees that keeping your personal life and work life separate can be tricky. "I love running my own business so much that it is hard to turn it off," says Nunnery. "When we are out socially, inevitably, someone will want to talk 'food,' and that always leads to the Pampered Chef! I try very hard to have boundaries. ... I let them know that I keep office hours during the day and that, unless it can't wait, I'd prefer they not call in the evenings."

One of the advantages of running a home-based business is controlling your monthly income.

"I can work whenever it is convenient, so that allows me to always be accessible to my kids," says Monia. "If I need additional money for an added monthly expense like a prom dress or a summer camp, I can plan a little bit and work extra that pay period. I can usually work laundry, dinner and household chores in during the day when I get up to stretch or take a break. The pay is higher than I would earn working in an office or medical center, and I am my own boss."

Another advantage to working from home is controlling your workload.

"The pros of a home-based business are definitely the flexibility, (the fact that I have) no set hours and, as long as I get the job done, I can work whatever hours best suit me and my family," says Borders. "I also have the ability to have as much or as little work as I want. I enjoy the fact that I can stay home with my children, but still get the chance to use my creativity and love of baking."

That's not to say there aren't disadvantages to working from home -- namely in the form of distractions and isolation.

"The [biggest distractions] for me are my doorbell and phone," says Monia. "I usually let the phone go to voicemail and hope the doorbell doesn't ring while the kids are at school so that I can get the majority of my work done for the day. Another con is that I don't see anyone during the day, which would bother a lot of people. ... The kids' activities and time at the gym have really become my social interaction."

Spending too much time on a project can also be problematic if you don't have set "office" hours, Borders says.

"I may spend too much time on an item because I work from home," says Borders. "There is not a time clock or set hours. Just juggling the personal/work life seems to be one thing that I work really hard at making separate."

Another disadvantage is that people sometimes treat women who work from home like they don't have "real jobs."

"I get called frequently during the day for favors and committees," says Monia. "I do have more freedom during the day than someone with a 9-to-5 job, but my friends don't realize that I have to make up the time in the evening. This was especially bad when the kids were younger and I was called upon to drive for every field trip and help with every fundraiser. I had to learn to say 'no,' which I do not like to do."