According to Global Workplace Analytics, while only about 3% of Americans work from home, the number of those who do has risen over 80% in the last ten years.
The trend of shifting work-life to the home might be most apparent in the travel agent business. With host agencies gaining more agents than ever, it’s becoming increasingly more common for agents to work from home “You don’t need a lot of bells and whistles, you can run your business out of a shoebox these days,” said Kelly Monaghan, owner and publisher of the Intrepid Traveler and author of the Home-Based Travel Agent series. And while working from home provides benefits—most notably a short commute and low overhead—it can present some challenges in the form of distractions that interfere with work.
Travel Market Report spoke with Monaghan and Scott Koepf, senior vice president of sales at host Avoya Travel, about what’s important—and not important—to know when working from home.
Setting hours: “When you think about working at home, there are basically two ends of the spectrum,” said Koepf. “It is both a blessing and a curse.”
One of the concerns is that the boundary between work life and personal life tends to get blurry. One solution is setting a schedule–with specific work hours–that operate like an office, according to Koepf.“It really comes down to time management and scheduling and in both of those cases it is the skill of discipline that is required to put those into practice,” Koepf said. “Schedule what your daily tasks would be as if you were in an office.” On the other hand, one of the benefits of working from home is that it enables agents to decide on their own hours. “If you’re an early morning person and want to start at six, you can,” Koepf said. “It’s about getting your work done whatever way you can, and feeling satisfied enough to go out and do other things.”
Get out: Though working at home provides a level of freedom that office life doesn’t, it also requires a major adjustment. “A great way to get out, to change the pace and not feel that you’re tied to your desk is to take your laptop to a café,” Monaghan said.“It has become a truism that a lot of agents are working out of their local café and it is actually a great place to meet clients,” she added.
When an agent’s office is his or her home it’s also important to remember that even outside of work, getting out of the house for social occasions can also benefit their business. “You can build your business in very interactive ways. You can join fraternal organizations or volunteer for local clubs or the chamber of commerce,” Monaghan said. “All of these things give you a boost in your social life as well as your business life.”
Networking: For agents who work at home, networking can also be a challenge. Both Koepf and Monaghan realize that home-based agents have to make a concerted effort to reach out. “Networking becomes a very important part of your schedule. As you create your weekly schedule that you live by, you have to make a certain time dedicated to networking,” said Koepf. “My opinion is that three to five hours a week should be spent exactly on that,” he added.
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