1. Where are you from originally?
I grew up in South Lincolnshire, an area most people struggle to place. They usually assume it must be dead flat, and are vaguely aware there’s some kind of connection with potatoes!
2. Where do you live now?
I live in part of a converted sawmill just outside the market town of Frome in Somerset, not far from Bath. It’s within easy reach of lots of beautiful places, from the Dorset coast to the Cotswolds, and of course London when I fancy a taste of city life.
3. What first attracted you to remote working? Was the change for work or for lifestyle?
I never actually planned to work from home at all, I simply fell into it when I was part of a cleaning business start-up in the 80’s. As a new business we wanted to keep costs down so running the business from the back bedroom was the obvious choice. The business grew and became successful, but there was never any need to get any separate premises.
I work in our smallest bedroom, which faces north and overlooks the river, so it’s not the lightest or warmest place to work in winter, but nice and cool in summer.
I must get back into my habit of going to the local coworking space, The Old Church School in Frome, for a change of scene and some company.
When we lived in Cornwall, my partner Andy and I used to have weekly meetings on the beach and they were always very productive.
5. Are you using any new software that is exclusively for remote working?
Nope, I’m afraid I’m a very late adopter. I think I’m like lots of home workers in only understanding what I’m using on a daily basis. I need someone else to tell me what innovations might be good for me.
6. What do you do for a living? Do you attend meetings in person or online?
I run the blog workfromhomewisdom.com where people who work from home can find and share information and experiences. I also work one-to-one with home workers to help them regain perspective, establish priorities and get moving. When you live and work in the same place you often can’t see the wood from the trees, and family and friends may not be the right people to help.
I’ve just launched the Work from Home Success Program, my first online product, which helps new home workers get off to a flying start without making all the classic mistakes, and gives a boost to existing home workers who’ve got a bit stuck.
I make Skype calls quite often, and go up to London every few months to catch up with people I know there.
7. What is the internet connectivity like where you are? What software do you commonly use on day to day basis? What would be your top tip for online working?
Lately it’s been good, after we had a recurring problem a few months ago when we kept losing the connection. Incredibly frustrating both from the point of view of losing work time and trying to deal with BT bureaucracy.
I use Tweetdeck and Instapaper, which is invaluable for keeping track of all the interesting links I might want to tweet or refer back to, and I used Camtasia for screen recording for the Work from Home Success Program. WordPress is my blogging platform – I blog every day, as well as posting new content like photos on the home office gallery and reviews our panel of home working reviewers carry out of products and services used for home and mobile working.
8. Does your wage go further working remotely? What are the common cost savings you think remote workers enjoy? What do you save more of, time or money?
I’ve worked from home for over 20 years, so I’m completely out of touch with commuting, but obviously I don’t spend money on daily travel. I most enjoy not having to buy clothes I would only wear for work and then having to have them drycleaned. I rarely darken the door of a drycleaners any more!
9. Do you have children? If so, how did they adapt to you working from home/remotely?
No, I don’t, and I appreciate I’m quite spoilt as I can work whenever I want without having to think about anyone else. Andy works from home too so we both understand about going with the flow!
10. Do you find it harder to separate work from home?
Again, home working has been my life for so long, I can’t even remember what it was like to ‘go out’ to work. I don’t really make a distinction between work and everything else – it’s all just my life, so I mix up working with food shopping, meeting a friend for a coffee, getting some fresh air, putting on the washing etc etc all day, every day.
11. Is your life better than it was before? If so, how?
So long ago, but yes, I’d say, this way of working definitely suits my personality and working style.
12. What are the best things about remote working? Has the move been good for the whole family?
For me it’s the freedom to live my life exactly as I please, to do what I want when I want, and carry out domestic and family commitments whenever I can fit them in between work.
13. What are the most challenging things about remote working?
For me it’s the isolation that imperceptibly starts to set in when you work at home for more than a few days in a row. For some people it may be a few hours, or just one day, maybe others a week or so. The trouble is that it creeps up on you so you don’t realise until you suddenly come to a dead halt and feel drained of inspiration and motivation. After 20 years you’d think I’d have it sussed, wouldn’t you, but as an introvert I’m happy on my own – until it’s too late!
14. Are you a remote worker for good? If so, why? If no , why not?
Well, life has a habit of throwing the unexpected at us, so I never say never! Let’s just say I find it hard to imagine going out to work full-time. I’d quite like a commitment that gets me out of the house a couple of times a week, though. That would be a nice balance.
15. Any parting words to people thinking of remote working?
Talk it through with your family well before you start so you all realise what changes it might mean to everyone’s routine. Go easy on yourself and others when you start to work from home because it’s a big life change and there might be unexpected consequences you have to deal with, on an emotional as well as practical level. Keep talking to each other, even if it means uncomfortable conversations if you don’t like what’s happening. And come and visit us at workfromhomewisdom.com for information and reassurance. As one new home worker said – ‘Got my first serious cabin fever after six weeks of home working.Then I discovered Judy Heminsley and decided everything´s going to be OK.’ There are ways around all the challenges, so make the most of other home workers’ experience.
About the author
Judy Heminsley has worked from home for over 20 years, both as an employee and running her own businesses, so she knows all about the pitfalls as well as the benefits of working from home. She is the author of Work from Home (How To Books) and was a pioneer of Jelly coworking in the UK, to help freelancers and home workers get out of the house and meet new people while still getting some work done. Her How to Start Your Own Jelly guide is available free from her website workfromhomewisdom.com and has been used by new Jelly groups all over the world.