Working from home has become increasingly popular over the last few years. With the rise in cloud technology, a home office has practicalities for both employee and freelance worker alike. There’s no need to endure the daily commute; it cuts out the number of sick days from staff who ‘just can’t be bothered’ to roll into work on a Monday morning; and there are the comforts of home that an office across town can’t always replicate.
By working from home, there are pitfalls. You see, the truth is, despite the perks of a home office, there are problems ahead. While we will help you overcome some of them, you may decide a home office isn’t for you after all once you have read through this article.
Pitfall #1: The constant interruptions
Not everybody understands your home is a place of business. Your kids might burst through the door when you’re in the middle of an important phone call, the neighbours may decide to mow their lawn when you’re trying to concentrate on a project, and your partner may stop by every now and then for a chat and a gossip. Trying to work? You have no chance.
Tip: You can’t do much about your neighbours, although you can try and negotiate with them if you are on good speaking terms. For those in your family, make it clear that you’re working. Setting a boundary is a must, and provided you aren’t shirking family responsibilities, they should understand you need your space. Turn your phone off too, unless you need it for work calls, and if people drop round because they see your car in the drive, hide it in the garage, or send them a text or shout from the window, ‘I AM WORKING TODAY’.
Pitfall #2: Lack of space
You need to have a designated working area, an office space that is equipped with all the essentials – a desk, chair, computer, etc. For most people, this is the spare room that has been converted into a home office, though some use the dining room. A home office shouldn’t be from the comfort of your bed or sofa – despite the comfort, these places aren’t particularly conducive for productivity, particularly if you are sharing the house.
Tip: You need to make space in your home to work. If this is an impossibility (and you aren’t able to convert a room into your working area), then a home office isn’t for you. Instead, you should probably consider renting commercial property if you’re self-employed (see more here), or actually brave that daily commute again if you are working for somebody else.
Pitfall #3: Difficulty in staying focused
This is partly down to the interruptions we mentioned previously, but you can’t always blame others. There are distractions around the home that you may be susceptible to yourself. You may be the person popping out of your home office for a chat. You may be tempted to head into the lounge to watch a little bit of tv. There are the constant visits to the kitchen for yet another snack. Facebook is an ever-looming presence on both your smartphone and computer screen. These are the dangers of working from home, where you lose focus because it’s difficult to separate your home and working life.
Tip: For starters, you probably need more willpower. The moment you give in to a distraction, that’s the moment you will lose focus on what you should be doing. Practically, you should use a website blocker during your working hours, stock your home office with snacks and drinks in advance (get yourself a mini-refrigerator) and set yourself a number of tasks that you have to complete before the working day is out. With a little incentive and preparation, you will be able to stay on task most of the time.
Pitfall #4: The danger of burnout
The exact opposite to what we have just mentioned. When working from home, you may be tempted to work longer hours than you should be. Your computer is always there, so you have the temptation to check your work emails more. Unlike a normal workspace, you can’t just leave your project on your desk at night before commuting home. Your paperwork will be sat there, and you may be tempted to return to it if you have no cutting-off point. If you work too much and find it difficult to shut off, you will become exhausted, so you do need to find ways to avoid burnout.
Tip: Remember the rest of your life, such as your family or friends who want to see you, and the hobbies you do outside of work hours. Your health matters too, so you do need to find that balance, doing whatever it takes to shut yourself away from work during your downtime. Life will pass you by when you’re too busy working, and you will suffer as a result. Our last bit of advice: get dressed in work clothes when it’s time to start work, and as soon as you are done for the day, get back into your slacks or pyjamas. This one act may make all the difference to your mindset.
If you have already tried working from home, you should have an understanding of whether it works for you or not. Still, if it is something you are planning on doing, make a note of the pitfalls we mentioned to help you decide if a home office is right for your personal situation.