The Challenges of Working at Home
Working from home isn't all its cracked up to be. There are distinct challenges that one must face. Knowing the challenges ahead can help you make a better decision with respect to choosing to work at home, and selecting the type of business you'd like to operate out of your home.
Working from Home is Exciting
Just the thought of working from home can be quite exciting. Wow, a chance to earn money and stay at home. No commute, no getting up early to dress up for work, and every day can be "shorts and sandals" day at the office. What could be better than that?
It's a great situation if you're cut out for it, but not everyone can handle working from home, whether you have your own business or you're working "off campus" as part of your regular job. This is largely true because not everyone is comfortable (or can handle) working on their own. Even with telecommuting ties to a "mothership," working from home has its challenges.
Let's look at some of the drawbacks of working from home. You'll need to know what they are so you can plan to overcome them. Some might be "show stoppers" for you, while others can be overcome with a little practice and some self discipline.
Here is a short list of the challenges associated with working out of your house. Just be aware that what looks like a bed of roses has a bunch of thorns in it too. Like anything else in this world, working from home has its price. The question is whether the price is worth the benefits you might derive from working out of the house.
The many challenges of home-based employment include:
- Limited fellowship with others. When you work at home, you're usually all alone. Some can handle this, while others might have a tough time of it.
- Supervision and guidance from senior staff is either absent or not readily available. In many cases, you'll be on your own and far removed from those who might be able to support your efforts.
- Opportunities for management interface are limited. In your isolated spot, you might not get nearly the exposure to management and decision-makers that your contributions warrant.
- Team building opportunities will also be limited simply because there isn't anyone at home with you. It's impossible to walk down the hall and "cook up" something with a colleague. It all must be done over the phone or Email.
- Social interaction is also very limited. At first this can make the home a very lonely place. If you're the type that needs to be in direct interface with others to do your work, then this will be a considerable drawback.
- Recognition of time and effort. It's quite true that things out of sight are also out of mind, so you'll need to keep superiors and co-workers informed of what you're doing, lest you disappear off of the radar screen.
Each of these challenges has a potential solution - some require enhanced use of technology, and some simply take time to get used to. Let's look briefly at some of the other needs of the work-at-home crowd. No matter how mentally prepared you might be, if you don't have basic resources for operating out of your house, you'll be facing serious challenges indeed.
Basic Resources for Success
Working at home also requires some resources that are nearly indispensable for every work-at-home situation. Without the basics, you'll make your life (and those you associated with) a bit of a misery. Some of the basics include:
- Dedicated work space so you have what you need right there where you need it. Whether it's an office or a workshop, if you don't set aside dedicated space for your operation, you'll be interfering with others in the home, and they'll get in your way as well.
- A desk, cabinet, file drawer or room that locks is one way to "kid proof" your business matters if you have children or visitors in the house. This helps provide assurance that problems at the office are the fault of the operator, and not others who might be curious about what goes on in the office or workshop.
- Phone, voice mail, computer, Internet connection and sometimes a fax/copier/scanner are also crucial to success in many work from home arrangements. Whether it's customers or co-workers trying to get in touch with you, or something that needs to be sent or researched, if you're serious about working from home, it needs to be seamless to others who desire to interact with you. It's poor form, and no excuse to have your work location interrupt essential business interactions.
To ensure success with your work at home adventure, make certain you have "the right stuff" in terms of:
- Resources - the essentials for the office or shop you'll be running.
- Attitude - you'll be on your own, alone most of the time, and you're fine with that.
- Discipline - keeping yourself focused on the task, and being self-supervised.
- Communications - staying in touch with co-workers, customers and management.
- Tenacity - willing to hang in there and overcome the culture shock that naturally comes from changing from a workplace to a work at home environment.
Good fortune to those who seek the alternative lifestyle that a work from home opportunity can offer. It's a great way to reduce expenses, spend more of your time applied to the task at hand, and get yourself out of the "rat race." Nevertheless, there are a number of challenges associated with it, and only you and your personal resolve can work to overcoming them.