With the technological advances in recent decades, more and more people have started working from home. For those who have never worked from home before, the situation sounds ideal. Get up early, have a coffee and blast through your work for the day with no hassle from the boss or interruption from workmates. Ideal, right?
Well although working from home can bring increased control and flexibility over when you work, not to mention the benefit of being able to work from anywhere you want, it isn’t always the walk in the park that many people expect it to be. Working from home requires huge amounts of self-discipline and commitment; even those who do manage to make a success of it will tell you that it’s not easy. Although working from home can give you increased flexibility and control in some areas of life, it’s also quite possible to start losing control in others. Here are some common problems that people face when they first start to work from home.
Depending on the sort of business you’re in, many people often find themselves working more hours from home than they did working in a normal office. Why? Because you’re always at work! This is certainly something that I’ve found difficult to balance since I started working from home. When you run any sort of business there always seems to be a million and one things that need to be done, many of them yesterday. When you work from home the option to work is always available. The fact that your work is only 10 seconds away can also make it difficult to switch off mentally. It’s far too tempting to flick on the iPad or laptop and start checking your emails, website activity or other things that could realistically wait. Before you know it an hour or two has gone by and your relaxing evening has also disappeared.
Work Life Separation
Work life balance is not the only potential pitfall of working from home. Closely related to this is the problem of work life separation. When many people first decide to work from home they often have nice ideas of easy days spent working at the dining room table, watching the kids play in the garden while chatting to their partner. In reality though, things can be very different. If you’re going to work from home then I can’t emphasize enough the value of creating some sort of separate office space to work from. It doesn’t have to be anything flashy, just a small room with a door that closes for the times when you need complete silence. Remember that old saying, out of site out of mind? Well this is very relevant when you work from home and have family around.
Although working from home can help you to cut down your time spent commuting – time that in turn can be spent with the family – trying to concentrate on your work with family around can be often be quite challenging. Personally I’ve found that if I don’t at least try to lock myself away during working hours, every task seems to take twice as long to complete. My wife wants to chat, the kids want to play and that’s all quite understandable. Under normal circumstances these interactions are the ingredients for a happy family life. When it comes to working though, they can be a huge distraction and can even leave you feeling guilty when you have to keep saying no to playtime with your kids or you have to constantly break off conversation with your wife.
Half of the time I don’t think Mrs.B even believes that I’m working. I’m sure she thinks I’m just messing around on Twitter, technically she’d be right but I’m actually working, no really I am! (Editor’s comment: Adam is not the only one who deals with this. )
While we’re on the subject of social networking, now is probably a good time to mention our final potential pitfall of working from home, social isolation.
When many people first start to work from home the peaceful and controlled environment they find themselves in can be somewhat refreshing. Not having to deal with your boss and workmates can make the new experience of working from home seem like a relief. After a while though, once the novelty has worn off, this lack of contact with the outside world can actually prove quite difficult to deal with. Spending all day working at home and then spending your evenings relaxing at home (I know that sounds boring but that’s life with two young children) can all start to become a little monotonous.
There are benefits to Working from Home
Although this post has focused on the potential pitfalls of working from home, please don’t let that put you off. If you’re able to balance things and you have the right kind of personality, then working from home also has many benefits to offer. I just think that because work plays such an important part in the life and happiness of a person, it’s important to tell both sides of the story.
Do you work from home? Do any of these issues affect you, if so how do you deal with them?
Editor’s note: I could not agree more with Adam’s thoughts here. I remember when I was looking to work from home after Taking the Plunge I thought it would always be great. That is simply not the case. While there are many benefits to this type of situation, there are also many downsides that need to be looked at as well.
Photo courtesy of: Adam Harvey