Roseanna Williams doesn’t worry if she hits the snooze button one time too many.

 

The Lakewood resident doesn’t have to stress out about beating the clock, road rage, red lights, highway gridlock, or even long lines at Starbucks. Her biggest concern is not waking up her dog, Zeus, as she steps over him on her way to her home office.

 

Like Williams, many Americans (more than 24 million according to the American Association of Home-Based Businesses [www.aahbb.org]), have traded the boardroom for the spare room —  located conveniently at home. In home-based business, the entrepreneur is either forging into the market to start a new company, or he comes from an existing company where he’s left behind watercooler conversations and garage parking for the cozy independence of peddling existing goods and services on his own time. The trend towards home-based employment is fueled by its inherent convenience, the progress of the new economy and, most notably, the freedom offered by mobile and wireless technologies.

 

Easy does it

 

With the relatively low cost and bounty of cellular phones, PDAs, Net appliances, hefty broadband connectivity, and even streaming media, employers and entrepreneurs are realizing that keeping workers at home saves money and time — and offers plenty of perks.

 

“I have a lot of flexibility in my schedule,” says Williams, a vocational case manager for Dallas-based Cascade Disability Management Inc. “I set my own appointments. I can work in other things ­— like if there’s something I want to do during the day then I don’t have to ask for the time off. It gives me free time because I don’t spend time commuting.

 

“And,” she adds, “I don’t have to deal with office politics.”

 

In an article published on Entreprenuer.com, year 2000 saw cleaning services, consulting, and building trades as the most popular home-based businesses. But for the future, experts predict an upswing in home-based technological careers.

 

According to research firm Gartner Group, more than 50 percent of all U.S. households are connected to the Internet and approximately 40 percent of all American adults use mobile phones. PC Data says 6.6 percent of U.S. households use a personal digital assistant (PDA) and that 39 percent of U.S. households have at least one computer —  16.2 percent have two or more.

 

And, with the ubiquitous nature of technology, it’s becoming increasing easy to set up a home office.

 

David Vandeven, a sales representative for Chicago-based Healthcare Corp., offices out of what was the original garage in his Dallas home. With two computers, two printers and a fax, Vandeven says there are “zero downfalls” to leaving the office life behind.

 

“I’ve had office (jobs) where you had to make your token appearance  and that’s just a waste of time. I’m much happier working at home than having a boss beat my brains out every day,” he says. “It’s not that I’m a loner and going to shoot the post office up, but I like to be by myself. I love being left alone. It’s very relaxing.”

 

Williams also sites the independence afforded her from working from home. “It’s changed my sleeping habits,” she laughs. “I get more exercise than I used to because I don’t have to be a victim of the time change.”

 

With most home-based jobs, employers give employees goals and deadlines. And pink slips are handed out quickly if the numbers aren’t met. “The deadlines make it easier (to stay motivated),” Williams says. “It’s pretty obvious if you abuse the system because the job performance isn’t there.”

 

But freedom is not without its drawbacks, as Vandeven admits. “If I don’t pay attention, I can get caught wasting a lot of time,” he explains. “There are temptations and distractions.”

 

 For Williams, if there is a negative to working from home, it’s the lack of social interaction. “I have to be proactive and make sure I have human contact every day,” she says. “Sometimes if I don’t have appointments during the day, I have to go out and do something like go to the dog park.”

 

With the small office/home office sector increasingly investing in business technologies — a figure that’s projected to reach $71.2 billion by 2002, according to research firm International Data Corp. — it appears as if home-based employment has no plans to slow down.

 

And neither does Williams. “I would work out of my home for the rest of my career,” she says.