Homeworkers In Print
Source : The Star, October 2000
How would you like to know the inner workings of working from your own home? If you’re on the brink of such a decision, check out Working@Home – A Guidebook for Working Women and Homemakers for some interesting pointers. Written by a team of full-time mothers who work from home, the book is delivered in an informal down-to-earth style detailing their own experiences as well as practical case studies.
Admittedly, moving away from a conventional office and working from a homebase is not for everyone. In the first chapter, the issue of whether or not to quit a full-time job is tackled. It’s important to note is that there are no right or wrong answers. All depends on the individual and mitigating factors such as number of children, your financial position, emotional health and needs, and personal priorities.
In the subsequent chapters, practical aspects such as getting started, self-esteem, establishing a home office, budgeting, profits and networking are dealt with. What’s refreshing is that you don’t have to plough through pages and pages of deep analyses–instead, you get catchy, short quips which capture the essence of the subject. And if you still don’t get the picture, cute caricatures are drawn out to illustrate the point.
According to The Star’s columnist, Chong Seau Ching who headed the editorial team, writing the book taught her a lesson on perseverance.
“There were many times when we wanted to give up halfway because there were so many obstacles, and chiefly because we had no money. But we’ve grown stronger together, and are now more determined than ever to help women try to get the best of both worlds–working and staying home,” says Chong who is also the founder of “Mothers for Mothers”, a support group for single and disadvantaged mothers.
The book will also be translated into Malay, Chinese and Tamil. Former copy writer, Katherine Yip, also handled the Chinese translation of the book. She comments: “I think Malaysia is awakening to the trend of teleworking. Hopefully, more corporations will value (women’s) contribution.”
The book project first took off as a series of Working From Home conferences organised by Mothers for Mothers in Kuala Lumpur in 1998. The conferences aimed to help disadvantaged, disabled and single women. They were a huge success and the number of requests for similar conferences in other parts of the country was overwhelming.
Due to lack of funds and mobility, the women figured the best way to disseminate the information was to compile everything into a book. It’s been a long and difficult road–some key writers dropped out due to family commitments, health problems and other setbacks, and new helpers jumped on the bandwagon. One of the biggest difficulties was the fact that the entire project was on a voluntary basis.
The Canadian International Delopment Agency (through the Canadian High Commission) and the Australian High Commission stepped in by offering grants. Other sponsors for the project include Nestle (Malaysia) Bhd and Agensi Pekerjaan myHRpal.com Sdn Bhd which looked into production and distribution costs. Printing was done by Printing Press, Monfort Boys’ Town.
Phang Sow Yoong who runs an advertising communications agency, coordinated the design concept and layout, and production stages. She says the book would not have been possible without Internet technology.
“It is a fine example of teleworking among homemakers who did everything from home-based offices,” she ventures.
New Zealander Virginia Cattell, who brought 10 years of experience in publishing and teaching to the sub-editing process, adds that while there may be lots of similar books in the market, Working@home is unique as it’s aimed at Malaysians, and is tailored for our multi-racial culture.