Working from home is not easy

July 15, 2012 1 By Pramathesh Borkotoky

For many, work from home is the ultimate fantasy. Visions of working in shorts, spending more time with family, being your own keeper of time and similar things like that make it even desirable.

Unfortunately, all those images are only the cream to the underlying tough challenges that work from home comes with.

When the line between home and work gets blurred, things can get complicated. There are several obstacles that make working from home more difficult than it seems at first, and it actually requires a huge amount of discipline to make sure you’re staying at the top of your game when you’re not in the traditional office.

Fortunately, there are ways to overcome each challenge and I have tried to list a few of them.

Prepare yourself: Should you work from home?

Working from home is most definitely not for everyone. You need to be conscious of your own personal traits. Do you need people around to work? Do you have trouble loving your job? Do you have trouble switching off your mind from work at the end of the day? If the answer to any of the above is a yes, then maybe you should not go for a permanent switch.

Motivate yourself. It is very easy to lose focus. Even the most focussed people struggle to focus while working from home.

Ask people close to give you some honest improvement tips. This will help you evaluate yourself. You know yourself best–do the hard self-evaluation before you commit to the idea of a home office.

Set up: You’ll need a desk, a door, and business-quality materials.

Setting up a professional-quality workspace is crucial.

Working from home is not easy. Working from your bedroom or dining table can be a stop gap arrangement but over time you might face issues both in the professional field and personal life. Without proper workspace it can be difficult concentrating on work and it can also create problems in your personal life as your family would find you working most of the time. A separate work space not only helps you be more organised but also gives you a separation between work life and family life.

You need to have your own computer, phone, printer, internet set up, stationery. This also means that you are the person responsible for the maintenance of all these and any kind of repairs if needed.

Treat your home office like a “real” office.

In the beginning, it will be difficult to focus on work. You will tend to get involved in the family life. I’m not asking you to ignore it completely, but you will have to learn time management. You will be expected to attend every family function, and help in household activities and they can be really challenging at times. You will have to work while overcoming those challenges. Treating your home office like a “real” office really helps in orientation process of your new work life.

Keep your work life separate from your personal life…

Getting distracted by your personal to-do list can be one of the biggest obstacles to effectively working from home. If it becomes a habit, your productivity will quickly go down to the lowest levels. As I mentioned in the previous point, you cannot ignore your personal life. You will have to learn how to have a healthy balance between your personal life and professional life.

Avoid over work.

The next in list of challenges is over working. We often tend to over work while we work from home. We should work for living and not the other way around. It is necessary to put some extra hours as we need to see other aspects of work which in a traditional office is seen by different departments. This fact makes it even more important to define your working hours.

Home offices can be lonely…

When you work out of your home, you don’t have the opportunity to build the deep personal connections you can make when you work with the same people every day. Without that interaction, it’s easy to feel isolated.

That physical remoteness can also result in mental isolation, which can in turn stifle innovation and affect the quality of your work.

De-stress yourself and visit public places regularly where you hang out with your friends. Go to movies, eat out. Visit those places where there is crowd.

Above all, don’t isolate yourself further.

Don’t fall into the trap of doing everything remotely, either; when appropriate, encourage real interaction. You are bound to face communication problems over a time. So, communicate regularly with people. Make regular calls to your friends and make sure you don’t face a communication block.

Some other take-aways:

Don’t under-price because you are home-based.

  • Stay productive and be able to prove it. Never charge by the hour: charge for output/results–it’s a big plus versus office workers. In fact, you should be able to understand your importance as people give you work because of your output.

  • Know when to upgrade your business infrastructure; don’t stay small and miss the bigger opportunity.

  • Hobbies become even more important when you work from home.

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