Soooo many people want to work from home. Whether you’re in a job that isn’t working for you and want to do your own thing or you’re at home with kids and want to earn more money, working from home is something many people aspire to. In fact, the phrase ‘work from home’ gets 22,200 searches on Google every month in the UK alone.
And you can see why. The thought of working whenever you want, day or night and in your pajamas is pretty appealing. As is being able to work around your kids and reduce what you pay on childcare. It can be done (I’m doing it! ) but it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Here are five reasons why working at home isn’t quite as much fun as you may think:
1. The thought of clients coming around for meetings
It’s hard enough keeping a house clean and tidy with kids around anyway. If you need to keep it tidy enough to hold meetings with clients then that just piles on the pressure. Looking back to my days of working in an office, one of the joys of that life was being able to leave a messy house and not have to think about it all day. It wasn’t messy all the time, honest! But at least my housekeeping skills (or lack thereof…) were totally separate from my working life.
This is fairly easily fixed as you can meet clients in a local coffee shop, hire a meeting room – for example, check out the FlexiOffices in London. Don’t panic, it can be a lot cheaper than you think.
The flexibility to do your own thing sounds wonderful until one day you realise you’ve been stuck in the house without any contact with other ‘work’ people for weeks! Yes, you will be talking to your kids all the time plus other mums you meet at toddler groups, but bumping into someone to talk business with can be rare.
Ironically, I found quite a few parents at my local Sure Start were self-employed, but it took me a couple of years to even think about asking other parents “So what do you do?” so I could track down the self-employed ones! Toddler groups can be good networking opportunities if you’re nosy enough. Anyway, to get back to the point…
You can get isolated. And it’s a serious problem because you turn to the internet for support and you see everyone else’s perfect website which just saps your confidence. You’ve got a bad case of compare-itis and you need to find a way out of it before you lose your confidence completely.
The ways I’ve found of beating this particular type of business isolation are:
- Find a relaxed business networking group where the emphasis is on getting to know people rather than gathering leads and elevator pitches
- Use social media to really connect with other business owners and make friends (rather than blasting out links or reading blasted-out links from other people).
- Focus on getting to know like-minded people and you won’t go far wrong.
Which leads us on to…
3. Lack of networking opportunities
It’s not just who YOU know, it’s who THEY know. And who their friends know. If you’re in a shared office you’re constantly growing relationships and as long as you put in a little effort, you get lots of opportunities to build your social circle. If you need your roof repairing the chances are somebody’s brother-in-law is a roofer. And what goes around comes around – if somebody’s brother-in-law needs what you do, they’ll probably refer you to him.
Once you work from home this kind of casual networking gets harder. It’s possible, but you need to be more focused and get out there to do it. Don’t get me wrong, social media has been brilliant for me – at times I think it’s kept my sanity (see 2, above ) – but it does take longer to build those relationships online than it does face-to-face.
You’re much more likely to slack off and watch daytime TV is nobody is there to see you do it! Been there, done that. Although since the kids arrived it’s mainly been Cbeebies.
Being in a room with other people working does encourage you to get stuck into your own work on those days when you’d rather be doing something else.
5. Boundaries between work and home
If you live and work in the same place it’s hard to switch off one and start the other. That can be in terms of time e.g. if you work a half-hour here and there throughout the day and evening it feels like you’ve worked a 16 hour day even though you haven’t. Or it can be in terms of space e.g. you have to clear the dining room table before you get your laptop out and your business files are under a pile of toys. The ten-second commute from your bedroom to work in the mornings can be great, but you don’t get that sense of leaving your personal life behind and clicking into your business mindset.
This can be fixed by consciously creating boundaries, here are some ideas:
- Telling your family your working hours are x to y and you don’t want to be interrupted between those times unless the house is on fire. This will only work with partners and older kids and sometimes even they won’t get it.
- Setting up physical boundaries like shutting the door of the room you work in when it’s time for work.
- Blocking your time e.g. allocating 10am to 11am to a specific task and then stopping at 11am whether you’ve finished or not. This definitely makes you more productive, too.
- Resisting the temptation to multi-task
- Renting a desk (e.g. here are some FlexiOffices in Birmingham) and getting your business out of the house
So there you go, five reasons why working from home isn’t quite the fun you may think and some good tips for getting over the pitfalls. If you have any more tips, please do share!
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