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Preparing To Work From Home

Graphic Design

Telecommuting jobs sound like the all American dream job especially since the idea of staying in your bed clothes, watching tv at random times, and no babysitters to pay sounds amazing. However, no telecommuting job is easy considering it is just like any other job except you must learn how to balance personal life from work. Think about your personal, professional and family needs before diving into this type of work.

Physical Needs

Any work from home job is more than grabbing your laptop and climbing back in bed. You must have the main essentials in order to provide quality work as if you were in a normal work setting.

  • Space – You need to separate work space from home space. A dedicated space for work says that you do work and in that area it’s work related only in that area of space. Even if you can not dedicate a whole room to office space then use a corner space of a room that you can use and dedicate only to your job. You can give yourself a professional type of environment by placing diplomas and other professional items on the walls. Some telecommunication specialists use partitions to separate spaces in rooms that may be family oriented such as the living room. Whatever the setting may be make sure its distinctive in your eyes that it’s a work area only space.
  • High-Speed Internet Access – The most important piece of equipment is your computer with your high-speed internet access. You can not use dial-up due to its unreliability and the same goes for WIFI. You need to make sure that your computer can handle any upgrades that you will need to do and make sure that your hard drive is plenty big enough. You need a fast processor, adequate disk space, and plenty of RAM. Secure your bandwidth so that your neighbor is not stealing your internet access as well. Be sure to have a high quality microphone and camera or headset system for doing meetings from home. Make sure to have adequate USB ports available. Just a little technology knowledge for those who do not know: if your technology is dinosaur age then just know your speed will be in the dinosaur age as well. Make sure your technology can keep up with you.
  • Software – Find out what programs you need to accomplish your job. For graphic designers they will need design software that will allow them to customize graphics. As video producers need special cutting edge software. Some employers will even reimburse you for pro versions of software bought. Do not cut corners when it comes to your software. It will not pay off in the end if you do that.
  • Traditional Office Equipment and Supplies – You may not have the major expenses of a corporate office but you will still need equipment and supplies. You will be needing a printer, fax machine, scanner, and copier of professional grade. You can cut space down by purchasing an all-in-one printer and this will also cut cost down. Make sure you have a good business phone that can handle conference calls. Some telecommunicators often like to use their cell phones for business calls but due to dropped calls and lack of service many opt to use other services. Some services include Google Voice, Skype, and other VoIP services due to them being low-cost and often free. A checklist of some office supplies should be pencils, pens, paper clips, stapler, rubberbands, and document clips. These office supplies should also keep you well organized.
  • Back-up Office – Great idea for an emergency if ever needed. Key is to have options in case they become necessary.

Emotional Considerations

You need to understand that there are non-physical aspects of telecommuting. Every telecommunications specialist should learn to spot these immediately.

  • Isolation – There are times due to telecommunicators working alone majority of the time they can become isolated from the world and feel as if they are always lonely and could become depressed. Social butterfly type people may not be a good employee when it comes to working from home.
  • Knowing When To Quit – Learning how to separate work from home and set a cut off time is the hardest thing to do. If you run your own business, make sure to set hours and stick to them. Never go off those hours because you will end up with family problems and many more social problems along with added stress. Always remember, it takes just as much discipline to end the day as it does to start the day.
  • Distractions – Without a boss standing over you, it can be so tempting to fall off and end up in another project unrelated to your job. Take advantage of time that you have that is quiet when your children are sleeping or entertaining themselves. Allowing your office to be separate from normal living space shows them that in that space there is no disturbance.
  • Motivation – Telecommunicators should be self motivated people. Some companies may have you clock-in at a specific time, which is a good thing, due to fact that if you are in control you may not be as motivated. Keep reminders of what is motivating in your job that keeps you coming back.

Business Aspect

Evaluate the aspects of being your own boss before beginning telecommunications.

  • Organizations – The most common means of registering legally are as a sole proprietorship, LLC, S-Corp, or C-Corp. Make sure you know about payroll needs, tax implications, legal liability, and bookkeeping.
  • Taxes – Taxes are the biggest priority you should worry about. The biggest thing going for you is that you have major tax breaks available to you for working from home online. However, when working with a company, they will pay half of your Social Security and Medicare Taxes. The business will take care of the other half for you. When self-employed you’re responsible for both halves. In order to not pay in anymore taxes than necessary, you should always pay quarterly on your taxes. The IRS frowns upon someone being self-employed and paying all their taxes at the end of the year in one lump sum. They prefer you to pay so much in at a time.
  • Health Insurance and Retirement Plan – Full-time telecommute, you’re probably not worried about any special health insurance circumstances. Self-employed, you’ll need to get private health insurance, unless you have a spouse who can include you in a health plan. Combine a high-deductible plan with a health savings account, and your out of pocket expenses can be deductible too. You can open your own accounts, like an IRA or solo 401k. You can even open more than one IRA and take advantage of options like SIMPLE and SEP IRA accounts, which are designed for business owners.
  • Marketing Yourself – Marketing yourself, is everything when you are self-employed. You should learn how to use online options like a personal website, digital networks, blogs, social media, and offline strategies including advertising and attending events. Know exactly what you want for your skills. You want to set reasonable and competitive freelancing rates, but you also want to make what you are worth. Consider what you need to make it “worth it” to put in your time and effort.

Final Thoughts

You have to be ready to shoulder the responsibility of telecommuting. You need the right equipment for setting up an effective home office, and the mental strength and stamina to dedicate yourself to high quality work from home. Only after you have given the downsides as much thought as the advantages will you really know whether or not you are ready to telecommute.

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