The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


November 26, 2013

Home-based work isn’t for everyone

It’s a time of year when some workers are giving thanks for their cozy home-based jobs. Others, not so much.

I recently heard from an unhappy work-at-homer whose employer had converted employees from office-based to home-based. Turning them into a virtual workforce cut the company’s office expenses. It also turned her into a job hunter.

The employer had talked up the job change as a plus for employees, reducing their commuting time and other expenses. That wasn’t a motivation for my contact. Her transportation costs had been negligible.

And even though she now can deduct allowable work expenses from her taxes, that modest benefit is overshadowed by other losses. Her home utility costs (including phone) - unreimbursed - have risen.

But chief among her drawbacks was a counterintuitive loss of privacy. The company requires her to use her personal computer. Recently, a help desk technician had to work on it, gaining access to her personal files, including her resume and household finances.

The worker also found that she much preferred the office environment, where employees shared client experiences and supported each other. Now, when she handles an angry client call, she misses peer support.

You may fairly argue that this worker is ill-served by an employer that isn’t handling offsite workers correctly. You may also point out that there may be liability and legal issues that haven’t been touched on here.

I’m sharing her thoughts to note that home-alone work isn’t for everyone. To be sure, there are employers who do a good job of managing remote workforces, and many workers like working at home.

But if you’re considering it, be sure you know the possible financial and legal benefits and drawbacks. And consider carefully whether working at home is likely to fit your personality.

To reach Diane Stafford, call 816-234-4359 or send email to Follow her online at and


Text Only
  • Balancing Act: How much is your time worth? Consider outsourcing some tasks

    Todd Paton has a booming business getting customers noticed on the Web. One tool he uses is generating online press releases to build brand awareness and create links that will send traffic to a customer’s website. But Paton, owner of Paton Internet Marketing, acknowledges that writing the releases is not his strong suit. Rather than spend his time doing it, he hires out the task.

    July 23, 2014

  • The Color of Money: No easy way to get out of debt

    Many people who are deeply in debt are desperate for a quick fix. They ask the question: What can I do to get out of debt?

    July 21, 2014

  • Watercooler: When to speak up if you see problems down the line

    Q: Our organization has hired a new director. I am one of a number of division heads; above us, there's the associate director, and above him is the director. The associate director is feared and disliked for his duplicity and dictatorial nature, though few have come forward because of his vindictiveness.

    July 18, 2014

  • Career Coach: Bringing a purpose-driven spirit to work

    Increasingly, religious beliefs and practices of employees are becoming more evident in the workplace. Religious diversity and concepts of spirituality are more prevalent in organizational settings.

    July 18, 2014

  • Ask the Mompreneur: It’s best to farm out your payroll

    When my husband and I hired our first employee at our Web development company, we had it easy when it came to doing payroll.

    July 17, 2014

  • Protecting against unnecessary losses

    QUESTION: I run a small bar and grill which is open 7 days a week and have to rely on others for some of the shifts. How can I ensure employees have not become my partners?

    July 17, 2014

  • A checklist for keeping you focused at work

    A quick check of Facebook and next thing you know, a half-hour’s passed. Start chatting with a co-worker and suddenly 20 minutes is gone and the report you were supposed to finish by lunch is late.
    Workplace distractions are everywhere, especially in an age of social media and open-plan offices. In the face of so much temptation, accomplishing what you’re paid to do can be tough.

    July 16, 2014

  • It could be time for a career coach

    Need a little help figuring out your next career move?
    If you’re putting in the hours and still not seeing the rewards, feeling undervalued or simply striving to be more successful, it may be time to hire a career coach.

    July 16, 2014

  • Your Office Coach: Turn to boss for help with disgruntled underling

    QUESTION: When I joined this company a few weeks ago, I discovered that the person who previously held my position is now working for me. “Sarah” obviously resents my presence and frequently says I don’t have the authority to manage her, even though I clearly do. Her negativity has made my job much more difficult.

    July 15, 2014

  • You are not trusted

    If it seems like employers don’t trust employees - well, they don’t.

    July 15, 2014

Business Video