Is working from home all itís cracked up to be?
Iíve worked from home for the last 27 years so I guess I am entitled to make some observations about how it works.
There are some critical issues that you would need to consider Ė
1. Discipline. Working from home means working Ė not staying. And the temptations for walking away from the work can be compelling. Kids come home with great news so thatís a good reason. A movie on TV I want to see Ė well thatís pretty compelling. How about when Iím not in the mood. You know Ė the words arenít flowing, the mind feels like porridge, thereís no-one to see me. Itís easy to simply find an excuse and justify it with a catch-up clause. Iíll work later when everyone has gone to bed. Iíll get up early. Yeah.
I work from home because I like the flexibility. I can take a break to listen to my kids Ė they are both away at university now Ė but I watched them grow up Ė and I got the chance to grow up with them. I can goof off if I feel like it Ė but you have to face the facts that the work has to get done. If you take time out for some other activity Ė you have to put it back. I smile when I read about all the guys who work in their pajamas at home Ė seemingly for the odd moment in between drinking coffee and goofing off. About how easy it all is. Garbage. If they are successful Iím pretty sure the reason why they are in their pajamas is because they havenít slept for 3 days and donít have time to change. I know there have been days when Iíve got to writing at 3am and been so busy that Iím still there as suppertime Ė dressed for bed. Itís just been too busy to change.
2. Flexibility. Working from home allows enormous flexibility Ė often the cause of so many home business failures. I like to work a lot. If I worked in an office away from home Iíd be frustrated. See Ė working from home allows me to go to my office when ever I want. I can watch my wife in the kitchen, listen to the TV in the den, stroll through to grab a cup of coffee and watch my wife painting Ė (you can see her stuff at http://www.veebauer.com). I can get up at night and go to work if something is buzzing in my brain. I can go to work at 3am and no one minds because Iím home when everyone else gets up. I can work late if I want and thatís ok. But you will notice the word WORK a lot in my story. Itís vital to make the flexibility work for you and help you increase your output Ė not tempt you away from the work to be done.
3. Organization. I canít tell you how many times Iíve tried to take over the rest of the home as office space. It usually starts on the dining room table Ė I may need to spread out some work so I can organize it. Then some goes through to the TV room because Iím going to proof read or catch up trading or sketch an outline while the commercials play on the screen. Then I leave all that behind when I go back to my office to do something there. Itís very easy to get buried when you work from home. So you either have to have a spouse who will shove you back in your hole occasionally Ė with all your stuff, or you end up lost. You have to stay organized Ė ( My wife wants to know how come I canít follow my own advice Öhmm)
4. Focus. You have to keep the faith. In spite of the distractions it is essential to keep the focus on output. You must be able to measure what you have done and how much closer to the end result you are. Sometimes itís easy to get confused between effort and results. We are taught to work hard and we will be rewarded. Perhaps one of the biggest lies told. Results come from the right work being done properly Ė not from effort. Donít get me wrong. Effort is necessary Ė but it doesnít stand alone. That means that busy work is to avoided at all times Ė and busy work is that stuff that needs to be done but doesnít move us towards the end result. Itís often a convenient distraction from doing important stuff because itís easy, risk free and routine and maybe makes us feel good. Do that when the real work is finished. When the end result is closer than it was.
5. Loneliness. Working from home can easily create a feeling of being isolated. Guys go to work Ė talk about the game, customers, the boss, the secretary, the news and so one. Donít let them fool you thatís its all work. There is a feeling of community in a public work environment. You donít have that at home. You are usually alone. Working. Alone. Worrying. Alone. You must be prepared for dealing with that.
And there are solutions. Maybe alone is ok for you. I think itís great. I can get on with stuff and no-one is poking his head into my office wanting to gab about something. But then my wife and kids think Iím a bit strange anyway and itís safer for the public if I donít go out. You can also maintain contact with others through the phone of visits if you feel the need to share. Thatís what the telephone is for Ė
Working form home is a life style Ė not really a work style. I donít commute in rush hour traffic, donít ever get home late for supper, see a lot of my family. I donít have to pay office and parking rentals and I get to be my own boss Ė and Iíd never change it.
This article was posted on Aug 22, 2005