Working online and from home is dream come true; the flexibility of working when you want, the cost saving from no commute and other benefits are amazing.
However, there are a few downsides to working from home that are not always widely discussed, at least not as much as the benefits.
I have been working from home now for 2 years, mostly part time, but recently full time and as such I have felt and experienced some, if not all, of these issues.
“All by myself…. I wanna be, all by myself”
We human beings are social creatures, with even the most anti-social of us craving the touch, sight or sound of another person at least occasionally.
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When you are working from home, you will be alone some or most of the time, there is no escaping it. Because of this it is very easy to get cabin fever and start losing social manners.
Think about it, if you spend 6 months in your underwear sat in front of the PC, with no care for your looks or actions, then you will really struggle should you need to go back to client or co-worker facing situations, or maybe even just answering the door!
I think it is important to set certain “rules” for yourself, like making sure you get dressed before you start work, maybe in non formal clothes, but still dressed.
You might have been thinking “But, working in my pajamas is what I want!”, and yes having days like that is awesome, but it doesn’t aid you in the long run, no sir. Plus, having some sort of regimen with the little things, helps a lot when you need a regimen with the bigger things.
Seriously, even if you are just popping to the nearest shop or taking your laptop to a café to do some work, escaping the house once or twice a week will really help, even without having a meaningful conversation with anyone, the sights and sounds of humanity can do wonders to remind you that it is not just you and the blinking cursor on your screen.
Starting to use cloud computing can really assist you with this, don’t be tied to the desktop (even though, like me, you may prefer them to laptops). Having the ability to use a WiFi connection in a café or via your phone can expand your working environment options, maybe even giving you the ability to work on the beach!
I know some of you will be thinking about using IM services, email and even Google Hangouts as a replacement for real life encounters, but whilst these are great tools to use in your daily life, they certainly shouldn’t be your sole communications with people.
“Oooh a photo of a kitteh!”
You need to have a boss. Why? Because a boss stops you from being too distracted, forces you to focus back on the task at hand. But isn’t getting rid of the boss one of the ideas central to working from home? Yes, it is, but being self employed and/or working from home you don’t have the luxury of someone giving you a kick in the backside to get things done, you have to become your own boss.
You have to make sure that your self discipline is enough to get work done every day.
Distractions are everywhere when you work from home, there is no IT department blocking Facebook and Lolcatz, so they are just a click away; TV or Netflix are available too and so on. On the flip side you aren’t distracted by co workers with baby photos or discussions about their Saturday night adventures. Even meetings and departmental discussions are distractions from the task at hand.
We all need distractions, the whole point of working from home is to allow you extra freedoms and perks, but the more distractions you have the less you are working from home and the more you are just being at home.
So you do need to be able to reduce distractions as much as you can. You can install programs or browser add-ons that allow you to block or limit time on certain sites. Or you can go the more self disciplined route and set up system for yourself such as the 50 minute work block system.
This system is pretty straightforward, assign yourself several tasks for the day, ideally the evening before, order them in priority and work on them for 50 minutes at a time, and use the next ten minutes in the hour to have a mini break – pop to the bathroom, grab a snack or catch up on Facebook, but once those 10 minutes are up you must get back to work for 50 minutes.
Some of the other things you can do to avoid wasting time:
- Work offline as much as possible, going as far as to even unplugging the internet if necessary!
- Make things take longer than 20 seconds to do or get, this reduces willingness to do it.
- Set aside allotted time in the day/week for fun activities, whether its an hour reading a novel or watching your favourite sitcom.
“You were busy? You were home all day!”
One of the most difficult situations to deal with when working from home, is the subtle and yet often heavy pressure put on you by family and friends. This is very much apparent when you are still working from home part time, during evenings and weekends, whilst pulling a 9-5 at the J-O-B, but it is still an occurrence when you are home all day.
It’s often the little things; Can you do the cleaning? Can you go shopping? Can you fix the wobbly chair? And when they don’t get done, there is often the argument of, “Why not? You are home all day!”
Now, these things are part of life, part of being in a family or even alone and they need to get done, but what can happen is that your other half doesn’t fully understand all the time spent in front of the PC and they can feel that you aren’t pulling your weight.
My only advice here is to have a frank and honest discussion and to lay out that actually whilst you are home working you need that time to work, to improve your situation, or to finally go all the way and become self employed.
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But you also you need to meet them in the middle, chores and so forth can’t be ignored or left for one person to handle. Often I find it is a great idea to set aside specific time to deal with work or chores.
I know this sounds a lot like common sense, but when you have that goal in mind to start your business from home, it often becomes a laser targeted focus with everything else falling by the wayside, so being upfront and frank with your family from the outset can help alleviate any feelings that you aren’t doing everything you can be doing.
I found that this was especially hard when you are pumping in time and effort into something that only brings small rewards in the beginning, which is exactly how it is with internet marketing. Often it is easy for the other person to simply think you are wasting time and energy, or that it is just a hobby.
“Working from home sucks?”
Not at all!
It’s great, but you just need to be aware that there will still be some downsides to it, that there will still be areas where you will need to have great discipline, maybe more so than when you were at the office.
Good luck with your online endeavors!