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Call Me: Telephone Tips For Working at Home

By Tammy Harrison


While talking on the phone, be it to clients, other publishers or friends; I find that our conversation has a way of taking us from the meat of the discussion to how one balances life by working from home. Just today, while visiting with a man who has made the move from his home-office to an office outside of his home, he inevitably heard my kids in the living room (“The alligators, Mom! We have to jump from the sofa to the chairs because if we step on the floor, the alligators will get us.”).

I was apologetic, but not embarrassed. It’s a thing that happens, especially when you work from home! Why be ashamed? I chose this lifestyle, and I take the good with the bad! I always tell people, before I ever pick up the telephone, that my kids are here and they are right beside me. I’d be happy to discuss anything they want, as long as they understand that we may get interrupted by an ear-piercing scream from the baby, or a giggle or two from the others.

So many times I read and hear that children should NEVER be present when a professional telephone call is in progress. I ask you, why? Now, I do agree that there are some clients I prefer to talk to when I have quiet around me. But, those are few and far between.

There is basic telephone etiquette when you work from home, so be sure that you and the other party understand what is necessary when talking on the phone:

1. Always be professional, even if the kids are doing what kids do.
2. If you cannot talk to someone without major background noises, email them first, so that they understand what is going on in your home-office.
3. Realize the attention span of your children. Little ones are good for about three minutes, so be aware that you need to have a short, direct and efficient conversation.
4. Have something at hand, at all times, for the kids to do. If they interrupt you, take a minute to quietly get their attention onto something besides bothering you, and proceed with your business.
5. Have hand signals, or some way for the kids to know that you are on the phone and you’d appreciate them being quiet.
6. Be sure to take the time, after you’ve finished talking on the telephone, to spend a few minutes with your children. Praise them for allowing you to talk on the phone, and then give them your full attention.
7. Ask your kids, before you get on the phone, if they want to do something or if they need you for anything.
8. Let your voicemail pick up, if you cannot have a professional conversation. It’s much easier to return a call than it is to make a bad impression, especially if the calling party doesn’t understand what working from home entails.
9. Do not spend hours on the telephone, especially at one sitting.
10. Give your children more time than you do your business, especially those who are home with you all the time.

Working from home is a gift and a blessing, as are your children. As long as you take adequate time for both, you will be able to find a way that enhances both your kids, your family and your business decisions!

(c) 2003 by Tammy Harrison. Tammy is the mother of four and the Independent Creative Representative for HBWM.com, Inc. Click here to contact Tammy.



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