Working from Home: Avoiding the Pitfalls
Working from home can be the ideal solution to many problems. Not only is it a great way to set up your own business whilst maintaining low overheads, it can also be a great way to solve problems with childcare, commuting or long term illness that makes leaving the house difficult. Unfortunately though for many it can cause far more problems than it solves. Below, I’m going to look at a few of the big pitfalls and discuss some of the ways they can be avoided.
Balancing Work Life & Personal Life Perhaps the biggest challenge to anyone who is new to working from home is learning how to balance work life with personal life. If you thought coworkers and internet access was distracting in the office you are certain to be shocked by how much worse it is when you’re surrounded by a TV, the fridge, books and perhaps even family members.
The key to success in balancing work and personal life is organisation. Start simple by making schedules and to-do lists and ensure you keep all documentation and other work materials together and well organised. The best way to ensure you avoid distractions is to create a distraction free environment for yourself within your home. This means rather than sitting on the sofa with a laptop and your feet up, you should create yourself a home office or at least a small area dedicated to work. This office or area should be free of distractions like a TV or bed and should be as much like a real workplace as possible.
Setting and Sticking to Work Hours It can be a temptation when you work from home to not work a specific set of hours. This flexibility may of course be the reason you are working from home in the first place but wherever possible you should set working hours and stick to them. Don’t let family and friends become a distraction, tell them your working hours and that they should respect them just like they would if you worked in a regular office.
Technology & Communication Working as part of a team in a traditional environment means that you can often just ask questions and communicate directly. Working from home pulls you out of the loop. You will learn to rely a lot more on electronic methods of communication such as email, telephone or instant messaging. You should ensure you have all of the equipment on hand to communicate with colleagues and get your job done. Being setup to use Skype could be quite important for face to face conference calls.
Expansion & Assistance If your reason for working from home is to build a new business without massive overheads the chances are the time will come when you need to expand or hire employees. Unless you bought your home specifically to run a business out of, taking on an employee can be troublesome. Depending on your requirements, outsourcing may be the way to go. Virtual office or telephone answering services can be used to lighten the load without that hassle of traditional employment.
Avoiding Becoming a Hermit When both your work and home life are based in the same place it can be easy to get stuck in the trap of never leaving the house. This can quite easily become an unhealthy lifestyle so you should try and get out as much as possible. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you can’t go out for lunch or to take meetings. You could even think about heading out to your local coffee shop with your laptop and getting some of your work done from there.
If you have experience of working at home or have any ideas or tips you think we may have overlooked then leave us a comment or get in touch on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.