A few weeks back, I answered a LinkedIn question about the perception of work-at-home parents:
“Why does this perception of a Home Office persist as not being as a capable or established as someone who pays extra for commercial space?
In my response, I mentioned that while I worked for Fortune 500 company, many of the service providers I chose operated out of home offices, and I never had a problem with it. As long as the work got done and the individual’s household didn’t disrupt our important calls or projects, it worked out well.
In fact, I often had a more positive view of those working at home. Why?
Without paying a ton of overhead for a large office, home-based professionals almost always offered more competitive rates than their agency counterparts.
The freelancers I worked with were significantly more flexible than those working in a larger corporate environment. Very often, I was able to condense project schedules because my virtual team members could jump on a conference call at the end of my workday or after they put kids to bed.
Then, they’d begin working on a web page, article, or other item we had just discussed, rather than waiting until the next day. It made a significant difference for me — especially on days when I had a calendar packed with meetings — to have a contractor hit a project milestone before I even arrived at the office the next morning.
Flash Forward: Promoting My Home Office
As a freelancer, I’m now on the other side of the equation and using this experience to my advantage. My clients know that I’m offline at certain points throughout the day. But, they also know that I always get their work done on time.
Email is My Friend
To ensure that all of my communications are professional — even when my daughter is having a bad day — I use email for about 80% of my communications. And, I schedule calls for early morning or mid-afternoon, while she’s asleep and the house is quiet.
I Stay Connected
I also check email on my handheld throughout the day and reply to client messages immediately, even if it’s to say “I’m not at my desk right now, but I will be in about an hour. Can I call you then, or do we need to discuss this right away?” This reassures everyone that I’m still connected and available, even if I’ve stepped away briefly.
After-Hours Are Mine
When my clients need something turned around quickly, they know they can call or email me — even after hours or on weekends. I’ll either pick up or call them back as soon as I’m able to. Ultimately, the balance works out well for everyone.
So, while I’ve worked with and have a great respect for some large agencies, I know I can provide the same quality with a few added perks. And, if I’m choosing someone to partner work with on a project, I’ll choose other home-based professionals any day.