Other Samples


Pierre Cardin goes electronique. Happy 10th Birthday LegoLand. New England photographer travels in time. Blue Dolphin sells subs on the e-shore.  [more]


 The Inner Tenor of David Brenner

David Brenner is America's hottest young comedian.[more]

  The Left Reverend McD

The first time I met Eugene McDaniels, he was squatting on the floor of his apartment [more]

Nate Johnson Takes the Plunge (Profile)

This movie photographer immersed himself in his work. [more]

Cheech & Chong: Laughter From On High

"Some day, marijuana will be legal,” Tommy announced. " [more]


Planning  For Impulse

Yes, people buy magazines on impulse; but here's how you can  trigger the impulse [more]  

Happy Talk

In a few weeks you’ll cross the briny to meet prospects  [more]


Management Under Fire: Paradigm of Desert Storm 

Watfare is a great model for business. Consequently,[more]


Chapter 1 —Your Home Office

By opening this book, you have demonstrated that you really care about your future [more]



Fiber optics might just be the rainbow that leads the securities industry to the legendary pot of gold, [more]



Ultimate Guide to Indies

Pause for a moment and say a prayer for independent record companies. [more]



Giving Ballroom a Whirl

Was it so recently that ballroom dancing seemed to be a poignant curiosity [more]




Why It's Hard to
Have a Really Cool Revolution 

 "Ben Franklin"
           "Hello Ben, This is Samuel Adams. I just wanted to - -"[more]

 Welcome to the Home Office


By opening this book, you have demonstrated that you really care about your future and the quality of your life. You already have or are seriously thinking about creating a home office.

People who display the drive to work at home shimmer with other wonderful characteristics: independence, creativity, panache.

Some people have home offices because they run businesses from home. There are both full-time and part-time home-based businesses. Some people are card-carrying employees who have learned the key to doing their jobs best. Get away from the company office and spend some time in your own home office. Then there are the telecommuters. They too are salaried, but they do all their work at home, thanks to a computer and telephone.

Probably we now are talking about home offices because of changes bubbling through American life. All sorts of statistics, some of them even accurate, support the finding that Americans have a profoundly different view of the role work plays in their lives than they did twenty-five years ago.

We want our work to mean something. We want it to be personally rewarding. We want our work to be part of our lives. We want it to be good for us and our families. The notion of working full- or part-time at home responds to these aspirations. And it's fun.

This might be a good time to distinguish between home office and home-based business. It's a distinction that, later on, we will willfully blur, but we should keep it in mind.

A home-based business is exactly what the term implies—a business that is run from the home. A home office is the area set aside in the home for working at one's business or managing one's affairs. A home-based businessperson may not have set up an office. Someone in a home office may be doing work for a business located elsewhere.

The experiences of textile broker Gary Depersis neatly illustrate the distinction. For the past twelve years Depersis moved his firm Aegis Associates back and forth between his home and various offices he rented. At home he worked on the kitchen table. At home he, in effect, established his office each day and disassembled his office each night. Periodically he got disenchanted and rented office space downtown.

One day, he realized there was some basement space he could use specifically for his work. He designed and built an airy, well-lit, comfortable home office. That's where he is now, and he doesn't anticipate working from downtown ever again. Gary Depersis needed a home office to make his home-based business feel right.

Wes Thomas, a public relations consultant in the high-tech area, opened his home office for the most charming of reasons—absolute necessity. "I used to have a three-thousand-square foot office on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, and I was paying a fortune for it," says Thomas. "I had illusions of having a big PR agency and I lost a lot of money, doing it that way. Finally I got smart and said, 'stop trying to pretend I'm a big massive agency, and let me just do what I do best.'"

One day, Wes Thomas edged a giant moving van onto Fifth Avenue, stashed the contents of his office into the vehicle, and moved everything—lock, stock, and Rolodex—into his home. It was a bit awkward at first what with the sudden infestation of cardboard cartons. But the result is just fine.

"The bottom line," says Thomas, "was that I slashed almost all of my overhead. Moreover, I discovered that I was getting an enormous amount of work done because I had flexible hours. I found myself working to three or four in the morning. If I got tired I could sleep when I wanted. I realized I was having fun. I never had fun in offices before. Now, when I walk into an office in New York I get deeply depressed for hours."

Or, look at Egil and Karen Juliussen. They run two Dallas-based businesses from their home, which happens to be in Nevada. They don't do it with mirrors. They do it with telephones and facsimile machines.

Certainly, this book wades right into home-based business issues, but the focus always is on how to enjoy and thrive in your home office. When I first started writing professionally, I worked at a typewriter on a small table in a corner of our bedroom. I didn't know it was a home office. I just thought it was an otherwise useless space. My old high-school friend Joe introduced me to the term home office. His explanation led me to believe that home office was a technical accounting term for "Hey, here's a chance for a deduction."

I guess accountants are like Californians, in terms of creating trends and buzz words. When the personal computer was taking hold in the early 1980s, people talked about their home offices openly and shamelessly. Even so, when I started tackling this subject, I found some interesting anomalies. To really research home office in Books in Print, you have to consult the topic labeled cottage industries. You can also check out home-based businesses. When I used my computer to tap into distant databases, I found lots of interesting stuff under home office. Most of it had to do with the British Home Office and its immigration policies, particularly toward Pakistanis. Another good portion had to do with neat woodworking projects you can do in your spare time. There also are abundant citations about corporations (particularly those in the insurance industry) where the concept of a home office has a totally opposite meaning.

All that is starting to change. The home office—as an option for living and working—is getting into print. What demographers have noted, electronic manufacturers have adored. With home offices, there is a whole new locale for consumers to stuff things that plug in and light up and make noise. Thus, we were treated to the specter of garish stereo discount chains that lowered the decibel level of their commercials to announce their new home office centers.

Electronic products do play a useful role in the home office. Com­puters, copiers, and fax machines have brought the resources of grownup business to our homes. Still, let's get our priorities straight. The home office doesn't exist so that 100,000 units of this or that electronic product can be shipped from the manufacturer to your front door. It would be a nice gesture on your part, but don't bother. The electronics manufacturers, however, should be thanked for spotlighting this trend.

The real story of the home office is that people have decided to bring fulfillment, direction, and control to their lives by working at home. The statistics supporting this fact come from all over the place. Venture Development Corporation, a market research/consulting firm, had its Electronic Home Office Planning Service do an extensive study on working at home. Venture's report estimated that 15 million people work at home full- or part-time. By 1993, Venture expects this number to reach 29 million. These numbers do not include the many dedicated souls who bring work home from the office.

Various commentators feel compelled to explain the home office movement, and have come up with some pretty logical reasons. The personal computer's impact has to be high on the list. For a relatively low price, individuals get the power of a full organization, embodied in a machine that fits on a desk. Of course, certain home businesses directly result from computer power. These include word processing, typesetting, mailing list vendors, and researchers. Many other businesses benefit from the number crunching, list-making, and word-processing niceties of the computer.

The so-called new entrepreneurial spirit contributes to the trend. People are a little bolder these days about starting their own businesses. As long as you're going to be unemployed, why not have a card that says "consultant"? The 1980s saw the launching of many excellent, innovative businesses fueled by kitchen coffeemakers.

Similarly, parents of young children find working at home to be an attractive way to be around while their children are growing up. Previously, parents would have sighed wistfully at the notion of being home for the kids. Today, parents have seized upon the home office as the key to the quality time of their lives.

Lots of officially designated free-lance people—writers, photographers, artists—work at home. Most doctors are self-employed, although their lances are anything but free. Many of them have offices in their homes. Many therapists—for our mind, body, or pets—work at home. Architects, contractors, consultants in all sorts of industries, mail-order moguls, and lawyers are among those who work at home.

It can get complicated. About ten years ago, Felice and Boyd Willat, a Los Angeles couple, created a loose-leaf organizer that would help busy people keep track of every aspect of their lives. Thinking it was a good idea, the Willats started designing and marketing the Day Runner from their home. Fortunately, they have a very large home. Other people—as in customers—also thought the Day Runner organizer was a good idea. The business grew.

"We had three bedrooms upstairs," recalls Felice Willat, "and that was the only living space we could call our own. But we had every other room devoted to departments. We had accounts receivable and accounts payable, and a reception area. Our garage was the art department. My office had been the den. The downstairs extra room was used as a computer room. We'd have our conferences in the backyard. It would get dark and cold but there was no other place to go."

Actually two houses were on the property, and both were stuffed with departments and working people. At one point, the Willats had sixty-five people working in their home office. Inevitably Day Runners moved to a downtown office. It wasn't staff size that inspired this rendezvous with the moving van. It was another reality. In addition to their sizable home office, they also had manufacturing and warehousing facilities, each of which was in a separate location.

"We realized," says Felice Willat, "that it would be interesting if we had everything under one roof." The Willats do not plan to move the business back to their house. They like the separation between home and work. Perhaps, the specter of sixty-five people busy-beeing away in one's castle is a bit daunting. Still, Felice Willat places great value on the years in which Day Runner was run from home. "This company would not be what it is today," she says, "if we had not started out in our home."

Can you base the business of your desires at home? Probably. Coralee Smith Kern of the National Association of the Cottage Industry has compiled a list of more than 125 professions pursued by people working from their homes. It ranges from accessories manufacturer to writer. The list's last four words are "and so many more."

The home-based business fits into the category of small business. The motivation of those who want to do it at home differs markedly from the rest of small business, according to Leone Johnson, a Venture Development market analyst. "For the people who want to work at home," says Johnson, "there is a desire to be involved in one's family. There is a nonconformist life-style. There is a desire to stay away from office politics and dress codes. There is a real rationale besides starting your own business and being successful. There is a philosophy about running your own life."

Not everybody who works at home is self-employed. Many folks discovered that to ply their trade as staffers, they needed to bring work home. Their next step was to create an environment at home in which they could vice-president away to their heart's delight.

Of course, most people do not start working at home because they have read the tealeaves and want to be part of the next trend. More likely, people shrewdly appreciate the very obvious attractions of a home office. The rent is cheap, the commute is a breeze, the hours are flexible, and there's a minimum of sexual harassment in the office.

Hugh. an editor at a major publishing firm, works at home one day a week.' "I have an office at home," he says, "with a phone on my desk; but, you know, people are reluctant to call me there. I get a lot of work done."

Mark, a traveling salesman for a small educational textbook firm, had a squash racquet under his arm as he stepped out of our apartment building. No, he wasn't on vacation. "I convinced my company," says Mark, "that when I returned from my territory it wasn't necessary for me to go to the company's offices in Connecticut every day. All I needed was a phone and a computer and I could take care of everything that had to be done. I save four hours of commuting time every day, and I have time for my family and this." He swung his racquet. It wasn't long before Mark started his own company.

Fred, a public relations counselor, says, "It took me a while to get used to working in my home. First, there was guilt—the feeling I had to work every day. After a year, I decided I could take weekends off. Six months later, I realized I could take an occasional afternoon off with the knowledge that I could make up any work that I happened to miss. It got to be more fun and I got to see my daughters grow up."

Working in your own home office is a way to reclaim, or at the very least enjoy, your personal identity. Not everyone is at home in a home office. The good thing about a home office is that there's no one there telling you what to do. The bad thing, of course, is that there's no one there telling you what to do.

The words discipline and structure get bandied about a lot among those who are considering a home office. These concerns are both real and phony. Sure, you should work in some kind of a structure. The discipline and structure come from how you work and what your business needs—not from how your old boss did things. When you work at home, you are not a cog; you are the machine. Machines do not need the same structures that cogs do.

For some, working at home is an enduring life-style. Others find it a wonderfully helpful booster rocket that sends them on their paths.

Angelo Valenti is a consultant who advises small and medium-size businesses on the intricacies of excelling, expanding, and even making money. He began his business in his Brooklyn home in 1980.

"My appointments were in Manhattan," explains Angelo. "I was getting two or three appointments scattered through the day. For six months the way I handled it was by knowing where all the great telephone booths in the city were. For example, the Algonquin Hotel has phone booths where you can sit down."

Valenti would often find himself, between appointments, spending an hour or so in a phone booth making calls and catching up on paperwork. "It got to be a little crazy," said Valenti. He decided to rent office space in Manhattan so that he could call on his clients and prospects more easily, and they would find his office convenient to visit.


I'm assuming that the people curious enough to own this book fall into one of two categories. There are those who already have a home office and are looking for ideas that might give them an edge. Then, there are those who contemplate setting up a home office. I feel there's plenty of useful information for both. Not only will I provide some good ideas about setting up a home office, but I will provide lots of ideas about how to make the office work for you so that you can enjoy your work and your life.

A simple notion will take us through the book: If you have a home office, then you are a home officer. You are the king of the castle, the captain of the ship, the chief executive officer of your office.

The entire real estate of your concern may not take up more space then half a desktop. No matter. You are the home officer. All departments report to you. You have a switchboard and a mailroom and accounting, computer, marketing, and other departments. In the following pages you will encounter good strategies to make all these departments work for you rather than against you.

Congratulations again, because you're on your way.