What are the biggest challenges of working from home?
People often wax lyrical about the benefits of working from home. But let’s be honest, it’s not all a ball of roses. There are challenges you’ll face daily if you decide to go that route. As someone who has been working from home for decades, I’ve developed a few routines and tricks to help me keep myself sane, happy and productive.
Challenge #1: Establishing a Pattern
You’ll likely start off drunk on the freedom of it all. The freedom to do ANYTHING you want. ANY TIME you want. Whoooweee. It’s powerful stuff. But pretty quickly you’ll come to realize that with absolutely no shape to your days it’s easy to get lots in a jungle of netflix bingeing, tweet-a-thons and suddenly a month has gone by and you have no billable hours. Whew. There’s a glimpse into a dark future that doesn’t need to be YOUR future. By all means – revel in the freedom. But give yourself some kind of structure to work from. For example, maybe mornings are for project work, afternoons are for meetings, marketing and business management.
Challenge #2: Leaving the House
Anyone who has worked from home before will understand this one. It’s pretty easy to look up from your computer and realize that DAYS have passed. With grocery deliveries, email, skype video meetings and online shopping you could literally never leave your house. However, this way lies madness. And serious back problems. Get up, get out, and reconnect with the outside work for at least a few minutes every day. Your body will thank you for it.
Challenge #3: Office Pants
No more dress code? You can bet I wore my PJ’s to work for longer than I care to admit when I started working from home. However, a word of caution on that front. It’s pretty easy to fall into the trap of just staying in because you’re not dressed to go out. By all means, pick some comfortable clothes, but I would highly recommend “getting dressed for work” at least a little bit. You’ll feel better, and then when that unexpected video call comes through you won’t be left scrambling (or worse, completely forget until you see those fuzzy penguins coming back at you through the webcam).
Challenge #4: Knowing When to Quit
When home is your office is your home is your office… well, you get the idea. Boundaries are a tricky thing, and it’s tough to know when to call it a day—especially if you haven’t given yourself any kind of structure in your day (see Challenge #1). It’s a good idea to be clear about which parts of the day and/or how many hours in a day are yours to do what you want with. Otherwise, you risk working ALL. THE. TIME. And burnout? It’s not pretty, or quick to bounce back from (yes, speaking from personal experience here). So know your limits, and work within them.
Challenge #5: Isolation
Start by reviewing challenges 1 through 4. If you are taking steps to address all four of those issues you’ll most likely be in a pretty good place to at least have the opportunity of coming into contact with other humans (and not looking like you need a personal-care intervention when you do). It can be challenging to go from a working environment that comes with a built in social structure and other people to an office of one. Make sure at least one of those activities you are scheduling into the times when you’re not working includes other people.
A Reading-to-The-End-of-the-Article Reward:
The Oatmeal has a hilarious piece about working from home that sums all this up nicely. Or, maybe nicely isn’t exactly the right word. But it’s awesome. Go and see for yourself.