Having run my own small business and having other positions where I worked from home, I have thought about the ups and downs of working from home. I also understand that working from home is sometimes the most affordable way to get your small business off the ground, so I know that many of you reading this most likely work from home.
There are many advantages to working from home especially with gas prices the way they are and just the general convenience of being able to have all of the comforts of home available to you. Taking lunch most of the times meant carrying my laptop into the kitchen to continue IMing with my customers and making a quick sandwich. Great for productivity, but not always great for getting a break. Then there are the downsides. These include things like the larger amount of distractions that are possible. Walking past your TV that has last nights TV shows recorded on it and having to stop to watch it, or having to play 18 holes of Wii Tiger Woods golf before actually getting anything done. I had the added difficulty of working with a lot of people on the west coast, but living on the east coast. Why do I need to get up until they are (3 hours later)?
So as you see there are some great things to working at home and some very tough things you have to overcome to be successful with it. You have to be a good self starter and you have to be willing to work many hours, but know when to quit so you don’t burn yourself out.
Here are some of my suggestions for making the working from home scenario the best possible option:
- Try to make sure that your home office is in a separate room that has a door if at all possible. Make it an office and get rid of the TV and any other items that you wouldn’t have a normal office environment.
- Set yourself some hours and try to stick to that as much as possible. Report to work (i.e. walk to your office) on time, take a lunch, and end at a certain point if possible. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t put in the extra time needed to make your small business successful, but don’t over work yourself.
- Get ready for work like you would if you were going to be around co-workers all day. Eat breakfast, workout, take a shower and get dressed like you would if you were leaving the house. Not to say that you have to put on a shirt and tie, but get dressed in comfortable “casual Friday” clothes to signify to yourself that it is time to go to work. This helps you get prepared for the work ahead and just generally makes you feel better about yourself. Think of it this way – Would you be comfortable if someone took your picture and put it on the front page of the newspaper in what you are wearing?
Mainly you should just make sure that you are ready to work when it is time to do so and that you don’t take the opportunity to “work” from home as a means of slacking off. Again I’m not saying that you should treat your home office as you would an actual office space with co-workers, trust me I didn’t! I am just saying that you need to make sure you separate the two as much as possible. Enjoy the advantages of working from home, but don’t get caught by the pitfalls.