If you're drawn to the illusion that working from home means working when you want to while homemade spaghetti sauce simmers and your children play quietly in the next room, you may be in for a rude awakening.

Workforce experts offer advice to would-be home workers:

Ÿ Set hours, and let family and friends know what they are and that they are non-negotiable. Having a conference call with a client interrupted by a drop-in visit from a chatty neighbor, or having relatives assume you can run errands or baby-sit because you're home all day, won't do much for your reputation as a professional or your focus.

Ÿ Stick to a schedule for telephone calls so you will be prepared and not distracted by a task you were pulled away from to answer the phone.

Ÿ Get dressed every morning as if you were heading out to the office. Working in a bathrobe and slippers may feel comfortable, but it doesn't make you feel confident and professional, and that will come through in your work habits and telephone voice. Wear normal business attire, style your hair and brush your teeth.

Ÿ Set aside a specific room for work. Setting up at the kitchen table invites distraction, lost papers and coffee stains.

Ÿ When you are working from home, do that. And only that. Your business will suffer if you are trying to iron shirts or check a child's homework while writing a proposal for a client.

Ÿ Set boundaries for family members: make it clear in writing if necessary that you are not to be interrupted while on the phone, or while typing or transcribing.