From the November 2000 issue of Startups

Why do people work at home? Let us count the reasons: tax-deductible living expenses, nap time, control of the thermostat and avoiding that ever-nasty company john.

As Swedish furniture manufacturer IKEA found, homebased workers' answers are often related more to why they don't want to work from a corporate location as opposed to why they do want to work from home. The company posted the survey on its Web site in July as part of its first "National Work From Home Day-Stress Not Included" event. Within a week, the site had received more than 12,500 responses, says Marty Marston of IKEA.

Among the respondents, 89 percent of people reported some aspect of the bathroom in their rationale to work at home-including 21 percent of women reporting wanting to use their own brand of soft toilet paper. While 16 percent of men mentioned time with their kids as a rationale, only 4 percent of women did. Only 13 percent mentioned money savings as a reason, while 23 percent mentioned time with pets. Some 23 percent reported wanting to work from home so they wouldn't feel compelled to sing or have "Happy Birthday" sung to them, the survey found. Forty percent reported having nightmares about going to the office, including dreams about accidentally showing up naked.

The most frequently given reasons for working at home were:

The survey tallied responses from both homebased entrepreneurs and teleworkers. The 10 most creative respondents received an IKEA "Work at Home Kit," which included a desk clock, desk lamp, coffee mug and terry slippers.

Missing from the responses were concerns about family, stress, commute time and personal time, Marston says. In fact, the survey responses were fairly light-hearted. Still, IKEA gleaned some real insights from homebased workers, she says. While 10 percent actually worked from home, many more said they would like to. "People are interested in these timely issues," Marston says. "That kind of dialogue is very healthy and needs to occur more often."


Journalist and author Jeff Zbar has worked from home since the 1980s. He writes about home business, teleworking, marketing, communications and other SOHO issues.