The idea of working from home seems like a dream come true when you have to follow a fixed schedule at a corporate job. It conjures images of avoiding the rush-hour commute, staying in your pajamas, skipping the office politics, and escaping the constant pressure to look busy for hours at a time.
There is also the alluring promise of being your own boss, setting your own schedule, spending more quality time with your family, and earning as much as you want.
Is this a realistic picture of what it’s like to work from home? Yes and no.
Yes, all the benefits of working from home are true. You can avoid all the unpleasant aspects of most corporate job and bask in the freedom of doing things your own way with no cap on your income potential.
However, one thing all the work-from-home advertising you may have been exposed to won’t tell you is the downside of working from home.
Let’s take a look at the downside of working from home with a view to finding solutions:
1. Being Taken Seriously
If you’re running your own home based business, then you’ll need a business address for legal and business purposes. However, it’s a mistake to use your home address as your business address. Your business won’t be taken seriously by anyone and be considered more of a hobby than a viable commercial enterprise. A simple way to get around this awkward situation is to use a digital mailbox service with a real street address provided by a provider like iPostal1.
The most important thing about working from home is your privacy. Without it, you won’t be productive and your business will fail. Most of the people in your life – family, friends, and neighbors – are so conditioned to thinking of working people as those who go to a place of work that they have a difficult time fully accepting that someone at home is also at work.
Naturally, you can set boundaries. Tell people when you’re having office hours and not to interrupt you during those times. As a result, they still call or drop by for a visit. Unfortunately, although setting boundaries is a good idea, it seldom works as well as you would think it would.
First of all, people still interrupt you, although less often, more apologetically and for a shorter period of time.
Secondly, your preset office hours are difficult to keep since your work will probably have ebbs and flows. Consequently, you’ll take advantage of the ebbs in workflow to do other things when there isn’t much work and you’ll be frantically busy early in the mornings or late at night when there is plenty of work to be done.
A more productive strategy is to avoid answering the phone when you’re busy and to be brief and to the point when people knock on your office door. For some strange reason, this less rational strategy appears to work amazingly well. In fact, days can go by when you’re not interrupted at all!
3. Establishing a workflow
Regardless of what you think about the idea of formal business hours—it’s been the most productive, efficient way ever devised to get people to sit down long enough to put in a few hours of useful work each day.
When you’re in charge of the schedule and when no one is keeping tabs on your level of diligence, expect trouble. Mood, rather than discipline, will rule your work life.
First of all, create a schedule. Maybe, it will be 9 am to 5 pm; maybe 8 am to 2 pm; maybe it will be 11 am to 8 pm. Try out different schedules until you find one that works out for your biorhythms and lifestyle, and then stick to it.
Your principle challenges will be either working too little or too much. If you work too little, you won’t earn enough. If you work too long, you’re heading for burnout. The idea of a fixed schedule that you can verify through experience is your best chance of being productive at work.
Starting a new business from home has its fair share of challenges. Yes, working from home in an organized and productive way can lead to all sort of good things that most corporate workers never get to experience, but you have to be able to figure out how to balance your new-found freedom with a sense of responsibility.