Making a Living with Diabetes: Working from Home

Diabetes can make working at a job harder. Maybe the answer is to have your work come to you. Might telecommuting or starting a home business meet your needs?

On the Sitepoint.com website, Alyssa Gregory listed 27 advantages of working from home. She can take downtime when she wants, eat healthier food for less money, and wear comfortable clothes. She saves time, money, and stress by not having to commute. And, she says, “I don’t have to worry about ‘big brother’ watching over my shoulder.”

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For people with diabetes, there are other advantages. To stay healthy, people with diabetes need to eat on a regular schedule. They need breaks to rest and sometimes to check blood sugars or inject insulin. They might need to snack if blood sugar is getting low. Managers do not always like these self-care actions or allow them, but at home they can’t stop you.

A 2011 survey by the office supply store Staples found that employees who worked from home experienced 25% less stress. Employees also reported that they were able to maintain a better work-life balance, as well as eat healthier.

A study by Ravi S. Gajendran, PhD, at the University of Illinois found that telecommuters performed as well as or better than their associates in the office. According to Ari Zoldan, CEO of the company Quantum Networks, “Telecommuting can limit absences, increase productivity, and save money [for a company.]”

Of course, telecommuting is not for everybody. You can’t do construction or plumbing or waitressing from home. It only works for jobs you can do by Internet or on the phone and a few others.

Even if you can physically do your job from home, you might miss the human contact. And according to Sarah White on Monster.com, “Some of us can’t fathom getting work done with a TV nearby and all our comforts of home surrounding us.” If you find yourself taking too many breaks to wash dishes or watch TV, telecommuting may not be for you.

More often, it’s the employer who needs convincing. Employers may see your being offsite as extra work for them, or not trust you to work hard. You can point them to studies like Dr. Gajendran’s for support. You can offer to check in with them by Skype whenever they want.

You can also suggest starting with one day at home per week and work up from there. The website Bayt.com suggests, “Often a partial arrangement where you report into the office once or twice a week is [best. This] allows for close interaction with colleagues and supervisors and ensures you remain in touch with company developments.”

If your employer won’t go along with your working from home, perhaps you can find an employer who will. The website FlexJobs.com lists thousands of telecommuting and part-time jobs in over 50 different fields. These include everything from customer service to accounting to training and many more you can see here.

One problem is that a lot of flexible jobs don’t have benefits and don’t pay much. Another is that when you work from home, you are always at work. Bayt says you have to create a separate workspace. “If your ‘desk’ is your lunch tray in front of the television set; and your children, friends, and neighbors have full access to your workspace, you are [not going to get much done.]”

According to Bayt, you have to stay organized and keep your work separate from your household life. Your family has to understand that Mommy may be “in the house,” but she’s not necessarily available to settle arguments between the kids at any moment.

Being your own boss
The advice, advantages, and disadvantages that apply to telecommuting also apply to having your own business. Doing it yourself gives you an even wider range of possibilities. A lot of these jobs are computer-based. I have a friend who supports himself creating databases for nonprofits and another one who moderates websites.

There are many non-computer possibilities. There’s event planning; there’s childcare; there’s freelancing as a writer; there’s everything in life. Think about your skills. What can you do that might translate into a business?

When you’re the boss, unfortunately, you have to buy your own health insurance, unless you are covered some other way. (When, oh when, are we going to get Medicare for all in this country?) You’re responsible for your own taxes and accounting. It takes a lot of planning. As Bayt puts it, “Leave no stone unturned in constructing your detailed business plan and make sure to analyze and prepare for every possible outcome and scenario.”

Working from home, either for a company or for yourself, can be one way to make ends meet, but there are others. Next week I’ll write about getting disability pay with diabetes, and the following week we’ll look at monetizing your life.

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Book two in my series The Inn by the Healing Path is out this week at Kindle and most other e-book sellers. It’s called Reasons to Live and includes a few stories you might recognize.

How is rooting for the Denver Broncos like having diabetes? Bookmark DiabetesSelfManagement.com and tune in tomorrow to find out from long-time Broncos fan — and person with diabetes — Scott Coulter!