Bradenton-Sarasota one of nation’s top work-from-home spots

It’s not surprising that the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton metropolitan area is one of the nation’s top spots for working from home. With beautiful beaches nearby, a variety of options for outdoor activities available and gorgeous weather year-round, it’s no wonder area residents enjoy the flexibility that comes with life without an office.

According to an analysis of 2015 U.S. Census Bureau data by Texas-based lawn care search engine LawnStarter, the North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota area is third in the nation for at-home workers among the top 100 most populous metropolitan areas. LawnStarter wanted to dig into the data to find the likeliest populations with more time to garden.

As Vanessa Caceres moved from the Washington, D.C., area to Bradenton, she also transitioned from working for a trade publication to freelance writing for a living.

“At the time we moved, I could work anywhere, so why not work in sunny Florida?” she said.

Caceres also had a son at home at the time and wanted to be free to spend more time with him. Next month, she’ll enter her 12th year as a freelancer. She first resided in Lakeland but soon fell in love with Anna Maria Island’s beaches and moved closer.

Caceres also enjoys the day-to-day flexibility that comes with working from home. While she takes a conference call, she can fold laundry. She’s able to spend more time with her pets and with her son during the summer than she could if working in a traditional office setting.

But working from home isn’t for everyone.

“You have to have a certain amount of determination or discipline,” Caceres said. “It’s not for someone who needs the 9-to-5 grind. People who work from home usually have odd hours.”

Though Caceres enjoys the freedom of making her own schedule, sometimes it can backfire and she’ll end up working on a Sunday afternoon while it feels like everyone else is out enjoying themselves.

Sharon Barhorst, WelcomeMat Services franchisee, echoed Caceres’ thoughts on working from home.

“You can feel isolated from time to time,” Barhorst said. “And you have to be very organized and separate work life from personal life and keep regular hours.”

Barhorst’s husband Ray also works from home for Tyler Technologies, a software and technology company. Corporations often endorse an employee’s choice to work from home, Barhorst said, because it lowers the overhead costs of office space.

Sometimes, though, an office away from home doesn’t work as well as a home office. Such is the case for Casey Hoffman and Robert Herman, who run a radio station and video production company out of their home on Anna Maria Island.

Both Hoffman and Herman’s resumes include corporate stints and they’ve run Anna Maria Island Radio for the past five years. At one point they had what Hoffman called a one-room “storefront,” but the radio-production duo felt the small space limited their creative abilities.

“We are able to multitask better,” Hoffman said. “And one of the most common things we hear from guests is how comfortable they felt. It’s not to say in the future (we won’t move); we’re always looking for the right space for AMI Radio. But until that time comes, we’re very happy to be here.”

Janelle O’Dea: 941-745-7095, @jayohday