In the depths of a long cold winter, working from home can seem like a tantalizing prospect. Imagine being able to roll out of bed at 8 am and still be at your desk by 8.15am. Or how about rather than groveling to the boss for a few hours off, having the opportunity to schedule your work so you attend your child’s school sports day? And what about being able to sit around in your pajamas all day, just because you can? No commuting, no having to be sociable to colleagues on a Monday morning when you really don’t feel like it. And no interminable weekly team meetings. In the quest for a better work-life balance, it’s no wonder that remote working has become something of a holy grail for many of us. And technology has certainly made the prospect of working from home achievable for more people. But before you hand in your resignation or schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss working from home, have you considered whether you’ve got what it takes? You see, working from home presents its own set of challenges such that it’s not for everyone. In this post, we take a warts and all look at working for home so you can honestly assess whether it’s for you.
Wanting to spend more time with the family may have been one of the main motivations for wanting to work from home, but it can also be one of your biggest distractions. A recent survey by Regus discovered that remote workers are frequently disturbed by family members, pets or domestic duties. In addition, everyday household noises such as the doorbell ringing, washing machine or dishwasher going alongside babies crying or toddlers screaming, as well as being distracting can also make you sound unprofessional to business callers. And we haven’t even mentioned the lure of social media, Netflix or the boxed set of Game of Thrones!
The truth is with no colleagues or boss looking over your shoulder, it can be very hard to stay focused and productive. One way to avoid the problem of procrastination followed by a frenzied few hours of activity just before that important deadline is to have a proper home office set up. Working from the dining room table or the couch is a recipe for disaster. Wherever possible, try and create some sort of physical separation between work and home. Set up a desk at home preferably in a separate room from the rest of the family, but if that’s not possible then a quiet corner of the house. Hang a do-not-disturb sign on the door, so other family members that may be at home learn to respect your work time. Establish a daily work routine and break down tasks into manageable chunks to give yourself focus and direction. The truth is learning to manage domestic distractions will be an important part of being able to successfully work from home. And you will need a range of strategies to make sure you stay on task. But don’t be too hard on yourself either. After all, does it really matter if you spend time sorting out the washing or doing some grocery shopping so long as your daily tasks have been ticked off and all deadlines have been comfortably met?
Not Being Able to Clock Off From Work
Some remote workers suffer from the opposite problem of domestic distraction. There are plenty of workaholics out there who find it impossible to switch off from work and if you have this tendency already, then working from home presents real challenges. Remote workers can find themselves working for organizations throughout the world, or it may be that your company has multiple offices in different time zones. This means that the typical workday for a remote employee can cover multiple time zones which can easily translate into very long hours.
When the separation between work and home is already blurred, those of us who struggle to sign off need to be extra vigilant to the dangers. Setting yourself clear daily tasks will be critical in this respect. And once you’ve completed your daily goals, that’s it. Log off and leave it alone. Make sure all your cell phone’s notifications are turned off. Better still why not surrender your smartphone and tablet to your partner to be returned in the morning. It might sound like an extreme measure, but if it safeguards your own mental wellbeing as well as that of your family, it might be a step worth considering.
Dealing With Technology Breakdowns
If you’re used to being able to ring IT Support any time something goes wrong, then remote working will be a real shock to the system. There’s no expertise that you can call on to come and sort something out – you’ll have to do it all yourself. Most remote workers find that they quickly become proficient at dealing with printer jams, Windows meltdowns, loss of data or phishing. However, one major gripe from remote workers that isn’t so easily remedied is a painfully slow internet connection. Unfortunately, the speed and quality of internet connections vary greatly, especially in rural or more remote locations and this impacts on a worker’s ability to be productive and efficient. So, if you are seriously thinking of working from home then make sure you can deal with common technological problems – or at least have a team of local experts that you can draw on. And also make sure that your intranet connection is good enough to cope with the increased demand. A slow or unreliable internet will hinder your productivity, create endless frustration and will negatively impact on your ability to make a go of remote working.
Having Sufficient Self-Discipline
We’ve touched on this already, but successful remote working requires a significant amount of self-discipline and motivation. What at first may have seemed like a peaceful, quiet oasis after the hustle and bustle of the office environment can quickly become a lonely and isolating prison cell. It’s important to regularly schedule breaks into your routine for the sake of your mental health at work. There may not be anyone to share a few moments of idle chat with so find some substitutes as it’s important to have some social contact for your overall wellbeing. It may be that there is a local network of home workers or freelancers that you can tap into and share a coffee with. As well as the welcome social contact, these networks are useful for bouncing ideas around and sharing insights. There may even be a formal business association or networking opportunities in the neighborhood that you can join. And why not hook up with a nearby fellow home worker for a morning run or an afternoon stroll. Scheduling regular exercise, fresh air and a complete break from the home office will be critical.
Positives Vs The Negatives
We’ve deliberately taken a negative look at telecommuting and working from home as it’s important to realize that there are plenty of drawbacks involved. Having said that, there are a great many remote workers out there that have successfully navigated these troubled waters and have made a real success of working from home. For them, the positives of spending more time with family, feeling as though they are in control of their own destiny, not wasting hours of their lives in unnecessary commuting and have greater flexibility in their schedules, far outweigh the negatives.
So, do you have what it takes to make a go of working from home?
If you’re interested in finding out how technology can support working from home, then get in touch with us here at MyHub. Our easy to set up and manage cloud intranet solution is successfully connecting remote workers throughout the globe. Contact us for an informal discussion on the possibilities.