In the United States, the percentage of people working from home had increased to more than 35%. This change is gradual for the past two decades. Home-based jobs are trending and it gives equal opportunity to working moms, part-timers, technical people who use computers to deliver daily tasks. Yes there are many perks in working from home and I can name a few: No gas expense or fare fees for commuters, you don’t have to deal with traffic or rush-hour stress, and you can work at your own pace. Though these perks may sound awesome, the home-based job setup is still not bullet proof.
I’ve been working from home for the past three years, (prior to that, I used to work in a corporate environment for many years) and the first quarter is a tussle, because of the adjustments I had to do. So let me share with you the common pitfalls and how I am continuously beating it:
1. Overwork. This is the part wherein a worker can no longer identify the boundaries of being at home and the workload itself. Without a natural stopping point like timeout on a regular office work, the day gets longer and it’s harder to put aside work. You tend to check emails on a regular basis, check work related articles, without noticing that you are doing overtime, except not paid.
What I did when this hits me is to regulate my time, by setting my mind on my shift hours, example 8am-5pm, just like any regular office work. So I make it to the point that I step away from my computer and do other “home routines” after my shift hours. This helps me sustain energy & balance my work and family time.
2. Too many distractions. Well those who work from office are not 100% focused, so much more burden to those working from home. The TV is there, the unlimited food from the fridge, or the noise from your kids, are some elements that can keep your brain off from your workload. This is a hard transition especially to those who are beginners in working at home, because they still mind the dishes as opposed to sending reports to the boss.
In this pitfall, what I did is to have a dedicated office room, and explain to the rest of the family that when the door is closed, it means I’m on shift. I also use multi-tasking skills, like there are some hours of the day when you’re not doing anything at work, so I turn those valuable minutes to doing other chores at home. Doing this will help you create your own work structure, self process and time versatility.
3. Isolation is fatal. This is the physical separation of yourself from social environment resulting to a form of isolation. Working remotely limits the face-to-face interactions and the opportunity to connect with peers. You get to miss the professional insights due to isolation.
The solution we implement to this barrier is to do regular meetups with peers, who like you, are also isolated at one point. We make transition reports and huddles before and after the shift, and yes we use real-time communications like skype, messengers, etc just to get everyone in the loop. We share common hobbies which are not necessarily work related and we talk about it. So far so good, I never felt choked by isolation and I always find ways to kill boredom.
Yes it is exciting to work in a home-based setup, as much as working in a corporate world. There will be pros and cons that you have to work on to be able to venture out on your own as an independent worker. Most importantly, you must enjoy what you are doing regardless where you are working at and always take pride in your work.