It sounds ideal. Working from the comfort of your own home. More and more people are choosing jobs that are flexible, in terms of hours and location. Work, as generations past understood it, has changed. It is possible to work remotely from your home. Many people choose to use their residence as an incubator to start and grow their own business.
However, when confronted with the reality of it, working from home isn’t always everything it’s cracked up to be. While it has definite advantages, there are some distinct disadvantages too.
What are the advantages of working from home?
Think about the time you spend commuting to and from work every day. It takes up a portion of your day that you could spend working. Think about how much you could do if you weren’t sitting in a traffic jam with your blood pressure on the rise. Your workday only starts when you get to your desk. Imagine if your desk was a few seconds away from your bedroom.
Every day is a casual day
You don’t need to dress up if you work from home. It’s a proven fact that people are more productive if they’re comfortably dressed. That doesn’t mean you need to spend the day in your pajamas! You can’t do video conferences in your favorite onesie and expect to be taken seriously. It’s best to get dressed for the workday. If you’re in your PJ’s all day, the temptation to get back into bed may creep in.
When you work from home, you can make your work hours flexible. This is a great way to tailor your work around other commitments you have. Many parents choose to work from home, so they can see their children off to school and spend time with them in the afternoon. The work they don’t manage to complete during the day can be resumed later in the evening.
Stuck in an office? You have a desk you’re expected to work at all day. Not everyone is as productive in this type of environment. A lot of people with creative jobs find this confining and believe it interferes with their process. You may feel more comfortable brainstorming on the floor. A lot of people favor working outside in the fresh air.
What are the disadvantages?
A workaholic working from home can become so involved in what they’re doing, that they don’t take a time-out. Flexible working hours soon turn into 18-20-hour workdays. Even when you’re not working, you’re thinking about how much you’d like to get back to work. And it’s right there in front of you.
The best way to reduce your work hours is to make sure that you use your time wisely. You have to maximize your productivity and efficiency and try to keep yourself on a schedule. If you have a deadline, this can get thrown out the window sometimes, but getting things done faster, by know what to work on and how to do it, allows you to reduce the number of hours you need to work each day.
A big mishmash
Keeping work and home issues separate is hard when you work from home. The stress of work goes to the dinner table. When you work in an office, you can leave the stress behind and go home. That’s not so easy when you work from home. The stress is in your home a few feet away.
If the stress gets to be too much or if you are unable to separate work stress from home life, then you should keep your office in a separate room, unplug from all electronic devices and meditate or use some breathing techniques. You can also spend time with your family, go somewhere fun or do something you enjoy. All of these things can take your mind off of whatever is causing the stress in the first place.
One of the biggest challenges of working from home is being productive. There are so many distractions around you. It’s easy to tell yourself you can read the paper for an hour and get around to work later. The trick is to make sure you have set your most important goals for the day and then the minor ones below that.
This means that the most important ones absolutely have to get done that done. Once you do those, you can get to the rest of the list. Then you start fresh the next day, with the most important things you need to do again.
All that alone time
You might think that being in your house all alone in silence is going to be great. In reality, it can be very lonely. The silence can be deafening. You don’t have that group of colleagues to feed off of when it comes to brainstorming and problem-solving. If you’re a real people person, this setup can be downright depressing.
A way to combat this is to get outside and take your laptop with you. Work from a coffee shop once a week, join a networking group, or attend a Meetup event.
Advice for those who want to work from home
Set up a dedicated office area to work from. It should preferably be in a separate room, so you can close the door and leave it behind when the day’s work is done.
Have a very strict schedule. Plan your working hours and stick to them. Don’t give in to distractions that divert you from the schedule, unless it’s absolutely vital. Have a specific ‘to-do’ list for each day and tick things off as you go.
Accept that some days won’t go according to plan. Learn from the things that went wrong, so that you can improve.