Not too long ago, I decided to make a bold move in my business. I set business hours! My business is technically ‘open’ only Monday through Friday, 9 am through 6 pm.
It was a really tough decision. But being ‘on call’ 24/7 was really affecting my work. Scripting is easiest when you have a stretch of time to work, and breaking it up with constant questions just wasn’t helping me get that work finished. I also felt like I had no time for family – and after all, isn’t that the main reason we enjoy working from home in the first place? Plus I worried about my support person – she was tackling weekend posts as well, and I felt she wasn’t taking enough time for herself. Something had to give.
I do have an emergency line for my clients – a simple form that sends an email message to the support desk and also sends my cell phone a text message. I felt more comfortable having a place for those extreme emergencies that just couldn’t wait until morning. And I do check messages a few times over the weekend or at night to look for other high priority issues that really need to be addressed quickly. But otherwise, I try to save it for the next business day.
One of my resellers asked me how the new hours were working out. She was thinking about adopting the business hours for her business as well, but was worried about how her clients would take it. I told her that I hadn’t had any complaints yet – either my clients weren’t saying anything, or they realized that it wasn’t fair to ask a company to be open at all times. I think most people understand. After all, how many stores have ‘always open’ hours? Why would we expect that of a home business?
If you’re feeling like you’re always working, or you don’t have time for family anymore, you might look at adopting normal business hours. Treat your email inbox as a storefront – close it down at night and on the weekend, and open it up during specified hours throughout the week. It’s tough to start, but once you do that, you’ll realize just how important it is to keep a life outside your business – for your sake and your family’s!