One conversation I find myself getting into often is how nice it must be to work from home. While working from home most certainly has its advantages, like everything else there are some disadvantages that must be dealt with. Consider the following:
- Family buy-in.
If you have a spouse and/or kids, they have to understand that once you walk through the door of your office, even though that office may be a converted bedroom, you are at work. You are not available for family stuff. My wife, in the beginning, had a very difficult time with this concept. To her, it just didn’t make sense that I couldn’t spend 10 minutes vacuuming the living room or emptying the dish washer because “you’re right there in the next room.” Also, husbands have to understand that you can’t always stop to cook for them or do some other “wifely duty”. If your children are home for the summer or on some other type of vacation from school, then you may have to put them in some daycare or your spouse, if available, will need to keep them occupied for you. You cannot have a six year old demanding food or play time while you’re on a conference call with a client. Also, family must understand that just because you step out of your office to get a quick drink or have lunch doesn’t mean you suddenly have all kinds of free time to give to them.
It’s easy to not worry about combing your hair, shaving, getting dressed, brushing your teeth, etc. when you work from home. However, you really should keep those things in mind and you should still do them. Once you start letting yourself go, you’ll be surprised at how those bad habits will creep into your social life. Next thing you know, you’ll be at friend’s houses or family reunions looking/smelling like trash. Despite the fact that you have no co-workers around you and that your journey to work is a mere walk across the house, you should continue to maintain good hygiene and dress like you are going to work.
- Get a Gym Membership
Most of us barely exercise enough as it is. At least the walk from the car to the office of a real firm is something and you do walk a little bit when going to meetings or looking for co-workers for help. When you work from home, however, your already low amount of exercise turns to a flat out zero. You’ll find yourself getting out of shape even worse than you are now which will not bode well for your work performance. You must, when working from home, make some time for physical activity.
- Avoid the Living Room and Kitchen
The living room, with all of that entertainment equipment, will do nothing but distract you. Do not turn on the TV, do not turn on anything. You may think you’re just checking the weather real quick, but I can assure you that 10 minute weather forecast can easily turn into the third episode of a Star Trek marathon on Spike TV. As for the kitchen, marching there to get snacks or something to drink every few minutes will do nothing but drain your productivity while stacking on the pounds. Avoid the living room altogether and make sure your visits to the kitchen are measured and infrequent.
- Expect Some Prejudice
Co-Workers who have to drive to the office will always be jealous of you. Your boss will always be suspicious of your productivity. These are things you’ll just have to accept and deal with. While you’re dealing with distracting family members and trying to stay focused, they all think you’ve got it made.
I hope these tips help. I may revisit this topic in the future if I think of anything else. Working from home does have advantages, such as the amount of money I save in fueling the car, but there are clearly some negative attributes to deal with as well.