Homeworking is increasingly popular, but is it all it's cracked up to be?WHEN Future Travel recently conducted a survey, those who took part revealed the good, the bad and the ugly side of homeworking.


Travel Weekly asked Future Travel brand development manager Amanda Taylor to respond to some of the participants’ comments.


“It consumes your whole life. I practically ‘go to work’ every day.”


This is a trap that some homeworkers can fall into, according to Taylor.


“It’s easy to check your e-mails or your answering machine every day and that can affect your home life,” she said.


“Ensure your answerphone message reflects whether you are working and how you can be contacted. If you are expecting a call back on a quote you have given, make sure your client knows when you will be there and, if they don’t phone you, contact
them.


“But remember: this is your business and the more you put in the more you get out.”

“After I applied to become a homeworker, the lady who interviewed me was open, honest and upfront. She told me what it would be like, including the pitfalls.”


Homeworking will not suit everybody and, like any job, there are good and bad points. You have to be incredibly organised, motivated and flexible. Be prepared to put in more hours during the busy selling periods and don’t get despondent if you have a bad day.


Taylor said a good homeworking organisation is one that points out the minuses as well as the pluses, and warns agents to think carefully about accepting a homeworking job with a firm that only highlights the positives.


“Do your research to ensure you choose a company that will  support your business as it expands,” said Taylor.

“I miss the social side of the working environment. It’s a lonely and isolated job.”


This is one of the downfalls of working on your own from home. Some people crave the company of another human being, and even those who prefer to work from home can get fed-up with the sound of their own voice.


Taylor said: “We make regular contact with our homeworkers so the isolation is kept to a minimum. We encourage them to attend training days, regional meetings and use our intranet forum to keep in touch.”


To minimise the loneliness, organise regular social events to get you out of the house, and don’t talk yourself out of going.

“The number of people starting out as a homeworker is increasing uncontrollably. People are then leaving because of a lack of training or they feel their company is only focusing on new starters.”


More agents are seeing the benefits of moving off the high street and working from home, and more companies are setting up homeworking organisations.


Some com-panies are better than others, just as some agents are cut out for homeworking and others are not. But competition among homeworking companies is good news for agents as it drives them to offer better benefits and opportunities.


“I’ve had people send me postcards or bottles of wine to say thanks.”


This is the positive side of homeworking. Good home-workers are some of the best travel agents in the business. They know their stuff and their clients inside out.


Matching the right holiday to the right client will reap rewards.


Taylor said: “It is great to be able to give a service to a client that prompts a letter or gift”.


 



Myth-busters

There are still lots of misconceptions about homeworking. Here, we put some of the common myths to Future Travel brand development manager Amanda Taylor.

Myth 1: Homeworking is not a proper job


False. It’s now recognised as a valid sector of the travel industry. You only have to look at the increasing number of tour operators and other suppliers that are keen to encourage homeworkers to sell their products.


Myth 2: It’s only women who are homeworkers


False. While the retail sector of travel is dominated by women, 25% of homeworkers at Future Travel are men.


Myth 3: You’re on call 24/7


This could be true, according to Taylor, who said: “Working from home can be difficult unless you are disciplined when it comes to your working hours.”


She said good homeworking companies will put in place measures such as an out-of-hours help desk to ensure homeworkers are given support and not tied to their desk at all hours of the day.


Myth 4: If I work from home, I will miss out on the latest developments and training


False. As a homeworker, there will always be opportunities to develop your product knowledge and selling skills, including roadshows, educationals and the increasing number of online training programmes available.



Myth 5: There will be no opportunities for furthering my career once I become a homeworker


False. Career progression possibilities are probably better than on the high street and include supervisors, team leaders, trainers and managers. Most of Future Travel management has a background in selling holidays from home.