The Internet has given many people the freedom to work from home. Some manage their own startups; some telecommute; some freelance. Working from home sounds idyllic, but before you decide to start converting the guest bedroom, here are some things you should consider.
If you’re at work in an office and your boss catches you goofing off online, you get in trouble. One of the great things about working from home is you don’t have to deal with reprimands or do tedious inter-office “team building exercises” – you can just get right to work. If you don’t feel like working, you’re in charge, so you can goof off.
However, if you are easily distracted, being in your comfortable home (where you have the freedom to sleep in, watch TV, or eat cereal in your PJ’s) might hurt your productivity. This is even more true if you have a significant other or a child in the house. If your kid is begging you to take them to the park, it can be hard to explain that you’re working.
Even if you’re freelancing and don’t want to go to a corporate office, finding own office space might help to avoid these distractions.
Offices pay for a lot of little things that you may not notice, but which add up to a big overhead. Pens, paper, printer cartridges, equipment… These costs can add up in a home office, and cutting out your commute might not save as much money as you had hoped.
This is the double-edged sword of working from home – you will always have to be your own boss and keep yourself motivated. For some people, this is easy and comes naturally. For others, the lure of sleeping in is too strong.
It’s true that if you’re self-employed, you can sleep in as much as you want, but setting a schedule for the day could help to significantly boost your productivity. Ordering your schedule around a normal workday, with an early start, a lunch break, and “clocking out” at the end, will help you stay oriented and motivated.
Always On The Clock
Beware of this trap that comes with working from home – when you work in an office setting, your “work problems” are distinct from your “home problems”. These two stresses are compartmentalized and separate, so you can deal with your current paperwork and not worry about the piles of laundry at home. When you’re working from home, both of these types of stress are present at the same time, which can cause conflict and tension.
This can happen in a number of ways – when you are working and your partner becomes frustrated with you for not helping out around the house, or when you allow work to intrude into what should be family time. Also, you may become overwhelmed thinking about all the things you have to do!
You’re In Charge
At the end of the day, working from home is simply not for everybody. However, some people are able to master the necessary skills and become very successful with an in-home office. If you can manage your time responsibly, this is rewarding work with a short commute.