Typing away at your computer, in your PJ's, without a care in the world -- what's not to love?
The ability to work while throwing in a load of a laundry is a dream, especially to parents of young children. And if the plumber who was suppose to show up at 7:00am shows up at 11:30am instead (without calling of course) no big deal.
These work from home situations described above are ideal for many people. What is unexpected however, is that after a certain amount of time, which can be days, months or years -- what once seemed to be an advantage to working from home, becomes a disadvantage.
Following are 3 unanticipated challenges working from home may present over time:
1. Isolation. A home office provides you with the ability to work in isolation. This can make for an uber productive day. No one to distract you from your task at hand. No jokes, no stories, no annoying interruptions -- nothing.
Over time this "nothingness" becomes an unexpected problem. No one is around to joke with, have fun with, blow off steam with and if we are being totally honest, kill time with. It's just you, yourself and nobody else.
Many people are surprised to discover how lonely working from home can feel. They may spend entire days not speaking one word to anybody else -- all day long. It's all work work work -- in total silence.
Eventually, you begin to lack the social camaraderie that you may have been fleeing when you set up your home office.
If you don't like people (hey, no judgment -- it's a reality for some) this lack of social interaction may work like a charm for you. If you are more of a social butterfly, you will need to make sure you get out during the work day so you can get your social "fix." Meet a friend for lunch or interrupt your workday with some "real time" telephone conversations.
2. Household Distractions. On your way to your home office you notice the laundry basket overflowing with dirty clothes. So you throw in a load of wash. Then on the way back to your office, you notice the kitchen is a mess -- so you clean up the kitchen. As you're putting the dishes away you notice the cabinet is a mess so you begin re-arranging everything. The next thing you know it's noon, and you haven't done a lick of work.
Working from home requires an incredible amount of self-discipline. You need to be able to focus -- and stay focused -- knowing nobody is watching. Having your home office in a secluded space -free from any visual distractions may be helpful. But ultimately, self-discipline and the ability to stay focused is the key.
3. Overworking. Because you don't have to catch a train or worry about traffic, many people who work from home end up working many more hours than normal. I've known some people with home offices who begin working -- in bed -- the minute they awake. They work uninterrupted for twelve hours -- eating lunch while working. The only break they take is to go the bathroom.
All this overworking leads to burnout -- big time. To avoid overworking, schedule some break times to clear your head. Maybe go outside to get some fresh air. Ideally, go out for lunch or invite a friend over to eat with you. Avoid working through lunch by eating lunch at your desk. At the end of the workday, call it quits! Physically leave your workspace. Shift your mindset away from work because the danger of working from home is you can always be working.
It's easy to see how the advantages of working from home can become a disadvantage. Working by yourself can become isolating. You can easily be distracted working from home with household chores. Working incredibly long days can be a byproduct of never escaping the office (no commute, no chit chat with colleagues, etc.).
Obviously, working from home is not for everyone. It takes discipline, focus, self-control and self-motivation. But if you can make working from home work for you, you may have found the keys to the kingdom!
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