Work From Home by Judy Heminsley

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Work From Home by Judy Heminsley

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Category: Business and Finance
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Magda Healey
Reviewed by Magda Healey
Summary: A clear, useful guide with plenty of practical tips and further resources for all those considering or starting to work from home, whether as employees or working for themselves. Most of it is fairly straightforward and/or commonsensical, but even the more experienced will find some useful ideas here. Recommended.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 173 Date: March 2009
Publisher: How To Books
ISBN: 978-1845283353

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Judy Heminsley has worked from home both as en employee and running her own businesses. She is now a professional advisor to homeworkers and Work From Home distils her experience into a practical guide for all who are considering work from home.

Heminsley is very enthusiastic about working from home, and occasionally tends to play up certain aspects of such an arrangement. A lot of advantages she mentions could be easily applied to office-based flexitime, while some benefits (particularly the idea that working from home means automatically having significantly more time) are not going to apply to all people: only a few would save more than an hour by avoiding the commute. It can be also argued that for an employee homeworking generates extra tasks: cleaning and tidying your workspace, time that has to be devoted to actively communicating with people, humdrum office tasks like filing, printing, collating, running errands and dealing with mail that can be easily delegated to low-level admin staff but have to be performed by the homeworker themselves. For somebody running a business, working from home certainly saves money and reduces business start-up risks, but other advantages are as applicable to somebody running a business from separate premises as from home.

Keeping that in mind, Work From Home offers a lot valuable advice, presented in a clear manner, well laid out format and easy to use, either as cover to cover initial read or something to dip into when required.

Despite a modest page count, Work From Home has a huge scope, covering most if not all aspects of working from home: from the reasons to do it to the effect particular personality and temperamental traits might have on your ability to make a go of it, from legal considerations to creating the physical workspace, from maintaining productivity and professional image to dealing with isolation, drawing boundaries for the family and coping with crises. There are general guidelines and specific practical tips.

The book is divided into three sections: the first one helps the reader decide whether work from home is for them; the other two deal with making the initial arrangements and being a successful homeworker.

Each chapter ends with a list of resources: organisations, websites, books and even types of people that might be helpful in dealing with a particular aspect of work from home.

I thought that chapters one time management and productivity (including an excellent section on procrastination), dealing with isolation and organising separation between work and family life were particularly well done and quite inspiring.

I like the variety of trades and professions that Heminsley used in her examples: she doesn't concentrate on professional jobs, but shows how the same general principles can be applied to anybody from plumbers to artists, therapists to web designers, window cleaners to sales managers.

I felt that the realities of working from home running your own business were covered slightly better than those of teleworking. It's hard to believe in many bosses who would be happy for their teleworking employee to switch their mobile phones on only when it was convenient for them, and the idea of 'downloading emails' two or three times a day seemed entirely unrealistic.

Work From Home doesn't really answer the 'how to make money' question posed on the cover. There are some suggestions for those who are not sure what kind of work to do (and good advice on how to avoid 'homeworking' scams), and a lot of reassurance and tips for self-employed and freelancers, including a useful chapter on networking. Most of the book assumes that the reader already has a job or at least knows what type of work they will be doing. Heminsley concentrates on how to make the work from home – whatever it is - work for you.

These are very minor niggles though: most of the advice in Work From Home is down to earth and realistic; there is very little management speak, and apart from an odd mention of the likes of feng-shui, acupressure and Mozart effect, mumbo-jumbo is almost absent.

Most of the material is fairly straightforward, but it's well organised, supported by examples and provides clear advice, reassurance and countless practical suggestions, without patronising. Heminsley's tone is very appealing: she's brisk, positive and confident, but doesn't claim to know the only correct way to operate.

Work From Home would be a great starting point for anybody contemplating work from home, useful for those who are just starting and even the more experienced home workers are bound to find some useful ideas.


I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

In or out of office, The Answers: All the Office Questions You Never Dared to Ask by Lucy Kellaway will amuse and possibly enlighten, while The Unwritten Laws of Business by W J King and James G Skakoon covers some basics of corporate life rather well.

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Sue said:

I think I ought to go out and buy a copy! After a quarter of a century of the regimentation and discipline of working in an office I'm now working from home. I've discovered in myself an odd mixture of procrastination (which I didn't think was in my personality before) and an inability to shut myself off from the work. One day I'll get it right!

I think you might be surprised by how many people do have a total commute of more than an hour, Magda. My husband, who is relatively lucky in his commute has a ten minute walk to the station, a twenty minute train journey and then another ten minute walk to the office. Done in reverse in the evening that's a total of one hour twenty minutes and we're not even thinking about the sort of trips that people make to get into central London.