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Working from home can have many perks, but there are traps or pitfalls the home-based worker can encounter too. It has certainly become trendy for many people to work wholly or at least partly from home. They may work for companies out of a home office, freelance or run their own businesses. Home workers cite advantages like freedom in time, loose scheduling, and money saved due to minimal work clothing requirements and commuting. On the other hand, these same workers understand that it’s fairly easy to become distracted, to not get as much work done as needed, and to feel isolated.
It’s really easy to cite the perks of working from home. It is possible to have an extremely flexible schedule, especially if people work for themselves. This doesn’t mean people won’t have to complete certain work on a fixed deadline. Perhaps the best way to handle this is by creating some scheduling rules when possible, so work doesn’t back up. When workers don’t have fixed deadlines, they may want to set them, and it could help to keep a large calendar near the workspace with stated deadlines. Though this could still mean varying the hours people have to work each day, most workers should decide exactly how many hours they must work, and make sure they can schedule that into each day.
Another potential advantage to working from home is money saved. It can take a lot to pay for work wardrobes, lunches out and commuting. If work takes a person into the community often, they may need to maintain a few nice outfits. Yet at home, work could be conducted in sweats, pajamas, boxers or just casual and comfortable clothing.
Money saved on daily travel may be an additional perk. Lots of people are thrilled to find their fuel consumption reduced, though they may experience a slight bump in home energy costs due to lengthier daily home use. These factors can vary based on type of work a person does and whether it may still require regular travel.
Distractions may be one of the bigger disadvantages of working from home, and while this applies to most everyone, it can especially apply to parents. One of the fastest growing groups of people working from home is moms, sometimes called mompreneurs. While getting to be home with kids is terrific, kids tend not to care that moms (or dads) appear to be working. They will still fight, get injured, get into trouble, or get sick. It takes significant skill to be able to multi-task working and caring for children simultaneously, and some parents who do this confess they feel kids get neglected from time to time. Parents may try to avoid this by scheduling work hours when they have another parent to watch kids, or at night when kids are asleep.
It is not only parents who must deal with distractions of all kinds. People who work from home may find plenty of things that divert their focus from working. It’s often stated that working from home may translate in other people’s minds to not really working, when this is far from the truth. Friends or relatives might call up in the middle of a workday, for instance, because they don’t understand people really have to stay on task. Minimizing distractions may help, like having caller ID so workers only answer work related phone calls.
Perhaps one of the reasons workers from home are likely to give in to distractions, such as the call from a family member, is because home working may be lonely at times. Those used to working with a large or even small group of people may miss the social nature of employment and the camaraderie of spending time with fellow employees. It can be easy to feel isolation or loneliness, and its important to address this by regularly getting to spend time with others. It should be noted some people feel this less than others; those with a more independent streak who prefer working alone may not be as affected. Still, those working from home should not allow themselves to become isolated from the rest of the world; regular social contact can prove of great benefit.
One pitfall I've noticed since I started working from home is that other people have trouble respecting my time. I've got at least eight hours of work to get done every day, so I can't stop what I'm doing and drive someone to their doctors' appointments or pick up their child from school. Just because I'm doing my job from my home doesn't mean I don't have real responsibilities and deadlines to meet. I've had to draw some firm boundaries with friends who assume I'm free to leave my work at any time.
On the other hand, it is nice to be able to truly relax when I do take a break from work. When I worked in an
office, we all had to spend our time off the clock in a crowded break room, and it wasn't easy to get away from people who wanted favors when we got back to work. When I decide to take a coffee break from my job working at home, I just walk over to my kitchen and pour myself a cup while watching television or whatever. I can even take a power nap on my own couch if I want.
I thought I would enjoy working from home more than I actually do. The work itself is interesting, and I'm glad I can do it at home without all the distractions and politics I used to deal with at the office. However, I do miss going to lunch with my co-workers or being able to bounce ideas off them when I got stuck on something. I will sometimes call people at the main office just to feel like I'm still part of the group.
There is definitely something to be said for being able to dress any way I want with a job working from home. I used to have to wear a suit and tie every day just
because our offices were open to the public. I didn't really have much to do with customers, but I still had to maintain a certain appearance. Now I can get up when I feel like it and wear whatever I want while I type away on the computer in my home office.
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