Judy Heminsley

Interview With Work From Home Author Judy Heminsley

Welcome to the eighteenth of the weekly interview series where I will speak a wide range of people who have embraced the working remotely opportunity. We will speak to entrepreneurs, business owners, large organisation workers and freelancers about their trials and tribulations when delving into remote working.

This week I am deeply honoured to have interviewed Judy Heminsley who ran a cleaning business from her back bedroom for 12 years, employing over 20 staff and organising the cleaning of many beautiful buildings in the Georgian city of Bath. On selling up, Judy decided to use her accumulated experience and train as an independent business adviser for fellow small businesses, again from a home office.

Gaining all this experience Judy has gone on from strength to strength and continues to spread the good word on home working via her truly fantastic blog Work From Home Wisdom as well as writing a book on the subject. It’s fair to say Judy is an absolute role model for ANYBODY considering remote or home working. Judy’s interview further enforces this and her advice is sensational. It’ was a joy to interview her and I hope everyone takes her fantastic advice on board.

Q: Hi Judy tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from, where do you live now?

I grew up in Lincolnshire, and now I live with my partner Andy just outside Frome, a characterful small town not far from Bath in Somerset.

Q: What company do you work for and what is your role within the organisation?

I’m self-employed and have been for over 20 years, except for a brief spell working as a business adviser. My blog is workfromhomewisdom.com, and I do all the writing and research, with expert SEO and IT help from Andy.

Q: How do you deal with stereotypes from friends in regards to productivity when working from home?  i.e.: Sleep until midday, 2 hour lunch breaks etc.

Do you know, I hardly know anyone who isn’t freelancing or working from home, so it never crops up! And I don’t feel guilty about getting up later than commuters would, or taking time off during the day, so maybe I fit the stereotype a bit.

Q: What is the most challenging part about home working and how do you overcome this?

Definitely getting out of the home office so I don’t get stuck in a rut. I’m happy with my own company so it can be a real struggle to make myself go out, but if I don’t I lose perspective and get demotivated.

Q: What are the main positives in working from home full time?

For me it’s the freedom and ability to mix up all aspects of my life in whatever combination suits me best on any given day. I’ve worked from home for so long I can no longer imagine how people who go out to work manage to get their domestic and personal stuff done in the evenings and at weekends.

Q: Are you an advocate of work/life balance and how do you try and balance both?

It’s one of those phrases I find a bit annoying, actually, partly because it implies it’s possible to find and maintain a balance. Like many people working from home I’m doing something I love to do and so it doesn’t feel like ‘work’ to me. As I mentioned above, I prefer to mix it all up – it’s all just life! And life changes constantly so it’s never going to be balanced for long!

Q: What’s a typical day for Judy? Realistically….start to finish.

The first thing I do in the morning is post the day’s blog. I’ve noticed that I’m getting up later now the mornings are darker – just one of the many benefits of working from home. Then I tackle my emails, Twitter and Facebook and other admin-type jobs. I love my coffee-making ritual late morning and then crack on till lunch in the early afternoon.  I make a point of going out in the afternoon for some fresh air, to stretch my legs and usually do some food shopping, go to the Post Office etc. If Andy and I have something to discuss about our businesses we like to do it in a local cafe, as getting out of our normal space seems to free up ideas. One of us cooks supper and quite often I’ll carry on ‘working‘ for part of the evening.

Q: Do you have a dedicated office space and what is the importance of having this?

Yes, we have always lived in houses with 3 bedrooms, and had just 1 bedroom and an office each. Actually I don’t go along with the conventional wisdom that you must have a separate space to work in. I’ve spoken to home workers who prefer to work at the kitchen table than to feel cut-off in another room. So I recommend people think about their own personality and needs before deciding, so they don’t waste time and money kitting out an office they won’t feel comfortable in.

Q: Any pictures of your office space?

Judy Hminsley Home Office

Office Space

This is my office, and it’s nice to work in here in summer as it faces north and the river is below the window so the running water makes it feel cool.

Now it’s getting colder I’m working more in the sitting room, which gets lots of sun


Cozy Living Room Space

during the day and also has a wood burner. In fact I’m typing this right now sitting on the sofa near the window! Not much sun today, so the blanket is round my shoulders.

Q: How important do you feel family support is for home workers?

It’s vital. I don’t think anyone could work from home successfully if their family was opposed to it or just didn’t understand what’s involved. It’s essential to be able to talk about what you can and can’t do in the house when you’re working from home, and to keep talking about it, because things change all the time. Andy also works from home so we have to be able to accommodate each other.

Q: Do you have any productivity tools you use to keep yourself efficient which may help our readers?

I simply believe in working when you’re in the mood, which is probably not very helpful! Easy for me to say too as I don’t have children. On the other hand, I think that having clear times when the kids are out and you know you can get on must be very helpful. It’s easy to waste time if you feel like you have plenty of it.

Q: You have written a book on this very subject. As a well respected, knowledgeable home worker what is the best advice you could give anybody considering working from home?

Think very hard about what it involves – for example, motivating yourself, coping with setbacks, dealing with family and friends in the same place you work etc etc. I think some extrovert personalities struggle with home working because they need people around. So be honest with yourself, ask close friends and family what they think, and be prepared to put in some effort to find out what works best for you. That might all sound like very hard work, but it really pays off, and I know so many people who say they could never go back to ‘going out‘ to work.

Q: Do you believe more organisations should allow those with web based roles to work remotely? If so..how come?

Of course! So many people could do at least part of their job at home now, and for the right people it could mean much greater motivation and job satisfaction. But going back to my point about personality, some people will never want to work from home and it would be counter-productive to try and force them.

About the author

Ryan Gibson

Hey! I'm a 28 year old digital marketing guy residing in Leeds, England. My skill is in search marketing and I have gathered over 6 years experience of working on large multilingual campaigns for a number of FTSE 250 Organisations. After accepting a role with a business based in Singapore I began questioning traditional business practice and employee retention. This blog GenerationY.com was therefore born with focus on Y in the workplace. A millennial child at heart I aim to provide a voice for the 'misunderstood' generation and my goal is simply to change perception and corporate mind set on work/life attitudes; inspiring companies and individuals to seek change.

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