From financial benefits to more family time, home-based laboratory owners are singing the praises of not having a commute.
"Very satisfied" is how three-quarters of home-based lab owners feel about their decision to work from home, according to LMT's Small Lab Survey. The financial benefits include lower overhead, no commuting costs and tax advantages. But more importantly for many respondents is the enhanced quality of life: more family time, flexible hours, more relaxed atmosphere and the ability to balance work/home demands more easily.
"I have been a working mother who was always home when my kids were home. We have a close-knit family and I think working at home has allowed me to have a career and a family and balance them—something that is difficult for many women to do. It's really nice to be able to start the burnout and do a casting as soon as I get up, or run downstairs to press something in the evening to get started on my work for the next day. I also get to start dinner for my family and get my work done at the same time," says Susan Krivichi, Dental Harmony, Ltd., Menomonee Falls, WI.
In fact, 58% of our respondents who now operate their labs from home were previously located outside the house. In addition to the convenience and economics, many moved home to downsize and focus on what they love best—working at the bench—rather than managing employees.
One of the misconceptions about home-based labs is that the owners never stop working. On the contrary, nearly half of these home-based lab owners say they work fewer hours because their lab is located in the house. In fact, they work about six hours less per week than their non-home-based counterparts; 74% of our home-based respondents prefer to maintain a flexible schedule rather than work set hours.
The key to separating work from home life is discipline, learning to multi-task effectively and keeping the workload in check. "I keep my head down and do what needs to be done when it suits me. I look at it like I am living with a conveyer belt (time) that never stops. I can step up to the belt and process the work any time of day or night that I choose but the work must ship on the day I originally designated--no exceptions and no excuses. It works for me. I am pretty much able to come and go as I wish," says Rudy Ziegler, Ziegler Dental Laboratory, Oakland, OR.
Another fallacy is that home-based laboratories aren't quality oriented or embracing the latest technology. In fact, 13% of our respondents have a CAD scanner and 5% have a milling unit. "We're in our fifth year of scanning and digitizing our lab. We're custom-coloring presintered substructures and modifying full contour crowns in the occlusal areas to enhance the natural look of the anatomy. We will install our Roland 5-axis milling machine next month so we'll have full control and ability to mill our own zirconia, PMMA and wax frameworks. It will take us to the next level of technology," says Tim Tyndall, CDT, Owner, Creative Expressions, Winterville, NC.
Almost all—95%—of our respondents say their clients know the lab is located in their home "Our dentists have visited our lab. They have confidence in us and know we produce good work, regardless of the location. In other words, a commercial location really has nothing to do with the quality of the work being done," says the owner of a C&B lab in California.
Be sure to check out the profiles below of 10 home-based laboratories whose owners are proud of their businesses and eager to show off their facilities.
LMT will be profiling more home-based and small labs in future issues and on our website, LMTmag.com. If you're interested in being featured, please contact Editor Kelly Carr at 203-459-2888 or Kelly@LMTmag.com.