Working from home sounds like a dream come true for many. It means no more long commute to and from work, no more office politics and it means you get a little extra sleep each day knowing you only need to walk a few feet to your office! Unfortunately there also some challenges that need to be addressed in order to fully succeed.
As someone that has been working from home for over five years I have discovered three main challenges that are faced by those who make the change from working for an employer to working for themselves at home.
Challenge # 1: Self Discipline
Having the self discipline to avoid distractions and perform your required daily tasks is by far the biggest challenge workers from home face. Without your employer looking over your shoulder as you would find in a traditional office environment, you are free to work as much or as little as you like. For many, even everyday household chores are strangely more appealing that doing actual work.
Scheduling dedicated work hours will help to overcome this challenge. For example, you may find that the morning is the time when you are most productive, in this case you could set specific work times of 8:00am until 12:oopm followed by a shorter burst in the afternoon from 2:00pm until 4:00pm. Having non work times during the day will allow you to perform the household tasks yet still allow plenty of dedicated and productive work time.
Challenge # 2: Social Interactions
One of the other biggest downfalls for someone who has made the transition to working from home is the lack of social interactions. People often don't realize the importance of colleagues in an office environment, people you can share ideas with or have a friendly chat with. When you begin to work from home, a feeling of loneliness and isolation is common. These feelings can lead to regret and overall dissatisfaction with your choice to work for yourself at home.
A easy and effective way to overcome this is to simply set up regular coffee or lunch meetings with your friends or favorite clients. Just a 20 minute chat over a coffee is a few times per week is usually enough to satisfy our social cravings and you'll find that you can come back to the home office with renewed energy and ideas.
Challenge # 3: Kids
Although not everyone that works from home has children, it is a common challenge many people face. Young children especially often choose the most inconvenient times to knock on your office door wanting your attention. It seems that when making important phone calls to clients, children find this the ideal time to interrupt! While these interruptions can be a welcomed break sometimes, they often lead to frustration that your work day was not nearly as productive as you would have liked.
In order to reduce the stress and frequency of interruptions, the location of your home office is important. Converting part of your garage for example to a home office can help create a bigger distinction between work and home areas of the house making it easier for children to adjust. Unfortunately not everyone has this option, however there is another solution. Firstly, you will need to establish firm rules with your children that during work hours, the office door remains closed and there are to be no interruptions. Secondly, why not schedule some short 10-15 minute 'play time' breaks where you can spend some fun time with your children. These short breaks will help relieve some mental stress and your children will love the extra attention they are getting. After all, spending more time with your family is one of the biggest reasons people choose to work from home in the first place.
Working from home can be extremely rewarding both financially and emotionally once you have overcome the challenges above. Of course there will be countless other challenges faced along the way but with dedicated work hours, a positive mental attitude and and enjoyable family life, any challenge can be overcome.