By Jocelyn Brown, who is a professional freelancer writer and mother. She loves the freedom that comes with freelancing and the versatility it allows her in covering many different topics and themes. When not at work she enjoys running, hikes in the country and making the most of family time.
Know the Pros and Cons before You Work from Home
Most of us have the dream. It’s a simple one. No more morning commute caught up in the traffic or on a bus filled with coughing and sneezing people, or on an overpriced train. No more annoying colleagues or soul destroying cubicles. And no more micromanaging boss looming over your shoulder telling you how to do your job even though it’s patently obvious they haven’t a clue what you or they are supposed to be doing.
In short, many of us desk-bound office workers dream of doing our jobs from home. We dream of the comfy home office, of working in our jammies, setting our own schedules, seeing the kids off to school without being in a rush, of having lunch at home, or going for a stroll around the block to think through a problem. These are the ideals and the pros of working from home, but to reach them successfully you need to accept and roll with the cons. If you don’t, they can and will ruin your experience.
Freedom and Discipline
First and foremost, working from home, wherever you choose that home to be, requires immense self-discipline. Your core freedoms include:
- The ability to choose your own work schedule
- Flexible work locations
- An ability to start early or late or take weekdays off
- Free choice of work clothes – even pyjamas are ok
However, as noted above, you need a huge amount of self-discipline. The home is full of potential distractions. These range from the TV – and your DVD collection or Netflix subscription, to social media and even chores. Yes, chores. They might seem horrendous, but it is easy to get into the procrastinating mindset whereby you think to yourself “I’ll get to work as soon as I’ve done the laundry…” Within the first few weeks you will discover if you have the discipline or the ability to develop the discipline required to work from home.
The End of Oversight?
That micromanaging boss might not know what anyone’s supposed to be doing, but they make sure you are doing it. Without them, you have to make sure you hit targets and deadlines – you may be free to choose your own schedule as a freelancer, but it’s never a whenever you feel like it kind of job. Remember, the companies you work for are expecting you to hand in work matching their quality requirements on time. If you fail to meet your client’s deadlines, you will lose work and develop a bad reputation. However, companies who outsource their work to remote workers have found that on the whole, their remote workers are more engaged with their work than their office-bound colleagues. Maybe it’s all that chatting by the coffee machine.
Mental and Physical Health
Furthermore, working from home can be isolating and can affect your health if you do not exercise properly. Let’s look at working from home as a social thing first. All communications are online – maybe via Skype or Slack or email or a chat app. Most of the time you are working alone. This really benefits some people like introverts or those on the autism spectrum. However, for others it’s really difficult to cope with. If you are single and living alone, working from home is extremely isolating without regular social meet ups outside of work. It’s a little easier with established friendship groups and family nearby or living with you.
Physically speaking, sitting at home can have profound health effects especially if your diet does not change to compensate. Whether you work out at home, go for daily walks, or hit the gym, you need to eat healthily, and exercise regularly – this also means just standing up and walking around the home every hour. Furthermore, it’s entirely possible to overwork and thus put a strain on your physical and mental health. It can cause stress to build up inside you as you pressure yourself and think about work constantly. Being able to define work and non-work time is crucial if you are going to stay sane.