Schools had it right from the beginning.  Remember those days when you’d come home from school, inhale a snack, and then sit down to do your homework?  Well, as the SBA’s 2006 Home-Based Business Champion of the Year, we’ve decided to coin a new word for today’s working adults: homework.

When we started our business almost nine years ago we made a conscious decision not to rent office space and to instead set up home offices.  It took us some time to get ourselves organized, get our processes down, and train others to understand and accept our home offices.  Nine years later, we know we made the right decision.

We do most of our work electronically.  We plan meetings only when they’re necessary, which saves both us and our clients valuable time and expense.  When we do have meetings, we usually meet on our client’s turf, which gives us important insights about the company and therefore helps us do our job better.  We have a morning call to each other every weekday to be sure we’re on the same page with the day’s to-do list.  We drink our own fresh ground coffee and eat leftovers.  We get chores and errands done in between tasks and meetings.  We make time for our childrens’ activities.  We have the best office equipment at our fingertips from computers to scanners, laptops, printers and wireless headsets.  We have excellent office views from Po’ipu Beach to Sleeping Giant.  The benefits go on.

In the midst of mounting gas and real estate prices, as well as rising overhead costs for businesses and shrinking wallets all around, homework makes sense.  Home-based businesses and telecommuters help the environment by decreasing traffic and pollution.  We keep our neighborhoods safe by our presence during the day.  We generally give superior service to our clients because we can work all hours (and often do).  Though we often work in small time chunks, our work time is highly focused because we have few interruptions.  There is zero office drama or corporate politics.  We keep our overhead costs down and pass those savings on to our clients.  On the family, leisure and community fronts, once home-based business owners and telecommuters learn to balance, prioritize and set clear boundaries between work and play, family and business, and pro bono and for-pay work, we can lead exceptionally high-quality lives.

If you’re a leader in a company, we encourage you to investigate which (if any) positions/people might be able to work from home, and then develop and rollout a telecommuting policy.  If you’re an employee who has an interest in working from home, do some research about the realities and ups and downs of telecommuting.  If you’re still up for it, make a proposal to your employer including how you’d plan to stay in touch, share files and information, show your work progress, etc.

Some positions or industries that can mesh well with the telecommuting lifestyle are real estate, information technology, data entry, writing, freelancers of all sorts, and many others.  For new and current entrepreneurs, a good way to assess if a home-based business is right for you and your company is to evaluate the option via your business plan.  Telecommuting may not fit every company, position or person.  A special set of circumstances is necessary to make homework a workable venture.  Also, all home-based businesses must operate within county zoning ordinances and subdivision rules so research those before you set up shop.

So what’s this got to do with PR?  There’s no better PR than doing something to mitigate a problem and increasing the quality of life of your community’s residents.  If your business implements a telecommuting policy, be sure to inform your employees and the public about it so they are aware of the benefits and your role in helping your community.  This type of positive, business policy news will build a strong, positive PR foundation.  So where homework will work, we say go for it!

For more information about homework, go to The Telework Coalition and Telework.Gov.   GreenBiz.com provides a thorough overview of telecommuting as well as a list of resources and links.  A search on Google for “telecommuting” and “home-based businesses” will yield thousands of more results.  Finally, check out these articles and blogs:

Telecommutingmillionaire Blogspot

Zdnet Telecommuting Tags

Webworker Daily

Telecommuting Blogtoplist

Other telecommuting blogs

When you’re ready, join the ranks of those who do the grownup version of homework.

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