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Your guide to working from home: the jobs and tips that make it possible

by Dante St James

**This post was originally published in 2015**

It sounds like heaven: a workplace where you can work, get the chores done, pick up the kids after school and pop out for a mid-morning coffee. Yet, ask anyone who has been working from home and they’ll tell you there’s far more to it than that!

In 2013, the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated that 1 in 12 people in today’s workforce work from home either full-time or as part of flexible work arrangements. In 2015, the number is expected to be nearing 1 in 6.

There are a range of jobs that suit working from home. With the rise of broadband internet and video conferencing, savvy companies are realising that some workers are more productive, more creative and display a far greater loyalty to their employer when they have the freedom to work from home than those who have to endure the morning commute.

Accounting and bookkeeping in your pyjamas

Some of the most common work-from-home jobs are in accounting and bookkeeping. Online and cloud-based accounts systems have changed this sector forever.

If you’re looking to branch out by yourself, operating your own bookkeeping business from home is a great way to build a client base without the huge start-up costs of renting office space and paying for utilities you already have access to at home.

Add a credible certification such as a FNS40217 Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping or study for your Tax Agent or FNSSS00004 BAS Agent skillset and that spare bedroom could be the start of your own accounts empire!

Write at home!

One of the more traditional work-from-home jobs is that of the writer. And this is an area where the internet has revolutionised the workplace.

Journalists were once known for their noisy offices, long lunches and Cabcharge accounts as they rushed from the office to press conferences and crime scenes. These days, a journalist is just as likely to be sitting in their home office scanning Twitter, reading media releases and making calls to Members of Parliament; before heading downstairs to load the dishwasher.

The rise of citizen journalism and the distributed workforce has meant that good writers and editors with great portfolios, recognised certifications and great time-management skills are highly sought after.

All you really need to kick start your career in professional writing is a home office with a reliable computer, fast internet connection and good knowledge base.

A relaxing haven

Another use for that spare room or garage space at home could be to start your very own massage therapy room.

Building your own regular client list is as much about your personality and approachability as it is about advertising. A Certificate in Massage can be your gateway to further study to become a professional massage therapist. Your home studio can be a space to gain practical experience, make money and even set your own hours.

And those quiet hours when the kids are at school make the perfect relaxing environment for both you and your clients!

Kindness begins at home

Counselling is a career that works really well from home. In fact, it can be far less intimidating for a client to enter a homely space than a sparse clinical environment.

If you have a valid qualification in this area, such as a CHC51015 Diploma of Counselling, a clean and friendly home office space can be designed in such a way to become a welcoming and safe counselling room.

If you have a granny flat or converted garage space with it’s own entry, this can assist the client to enter your professional space without being exposed to arguing kids or an over-friendly greeting from the family dog!

Paws for thought

If you’re an animal lover, a career in pet grooming or pet obedience could be for you. A garage can be easily converted to a grooming parlour for dogs and cats.

If you are looking to move in to pet obedience, most of this work is done outdoors. So if you have a large yard, that may be all you need. And if you need more space, a permit from the local council to use a nearby park on training days is enough to get you started.

Web design from the couch

The career that started the modern work-from-home movement is web design – and it’s still growing every year!

Where once upon a time you may have been building a small website for a business, now you may be building mobile apps, converting existing websites in to mobile responsive sites and working on ongoing content for already successful online empires. And all this from your own home office!

A solid portfolio of what you’ve done, what skills you bring and a CUA50715 Diploma of Graphic Design will help get you there with a qualification that is recognised across the country.

Tips for working from home

Now you’ve decided that working from home is right for you, there are a few things you need to know before you start.

Time Management
Time management is perhaps the greatest challenge that any home-based worker faces. Working autonomously at your own pace sounds great! Whilst you may love being away from office interruptions, endless boardroom meetings and water-cooler gossip, there are just as many distractions at home.

Laundry, dishes, tradies fixing the guttering, the school drop-off and pick-up, that great little café just down the road and the ever-present lure of Ellen, Dr Phil and Judge Judy on TV can take the most productive worker down a path of procrastination.

  • Use free online time management tools such as Trello and Google Calendar to plan out each day’s tasks and set reminders.
  • Regularly contact your manager with updates.
  • Make sure your home workspace is a separated from the rest of the house.
  • Rather than having a TV on to have background noise, stream music or have the radio playing to minimise visual distractions.

Occupational Health & Safety

Occupational Health & Safety is of the utmost importance when it comes to any workplace, even when it’s your home. Most companies require an inspection or photos of the workspace you are using in order for them to be covered by insurance.

  • Make sure all electrical cords are checked and tagged.
  • Regularly clean and sanitise all surfaces and ensure that any electrical equipment such as computers are in good working order.

It’s a REAL job!

Finally, family and friends may think that because you work from home that you are free to visit, babysit, feed their pets and run errands for them. Take time to explain to those in your life that working from home is real work. You keep the same working hours as anyone else, and while you are working, they should consider that you have the same availability and limitations as you would if you were working from an office.

While you may have time to cook yourself lunch and put on some laundry, you are still “on-the-clock” so your time is still valuable and should be respected.

Working from home is becoming more common across more industries. And with the explosion in jobs that allow for either full-time or part-time work from home, make sure you’re ready with the Big Four when it comes to working from home:

  1. The right qualifications.
  2. A safe, defined, professional workspace in your home.
  3. Great time management skills.
  4. Solid boundaries between your work-life and your home-life.

Want to work from home?

Get the skills and qualifications you need to have a successful home-based career with Open Colleges.

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