Working from home seems to be more popular and feasible than ever before. With a rise in the use of creative industries and online business, more people than ever are making a living right where they live! The advantages are obvious in some ways but can be specific to your own industry and situation.
A clear advantage for many is the lack of a daily commute. For anyone in either a remote location or on an excessively congested route, this can be a lifesaver. It is not only more cost effective but also saves time and increases productivity. Many employees report that their daily commute means they arrive at work exhausting or suffering from the effects of stress.
When that journey must be repeated through rush hour on the way home, it can limit an employee’s ability to feel well rested. This means they are less productive the next day. Working from home often means that we can direct our time and energy solely into the work itself without the hassle and expense of travel. Another advantage might be the ability to manage your own time and workload more effectively.
Especially around existing commitments or home life. Many people begin working from home if they become carers for relatives or partners, for example. Many new parents may also find a way to work from home.
But for all of the advantages, working from home can present some serious personal considerations. We must be honest about whether our work would flourish or suffer if done entirely under our own motivation. We should also consider whether our home environment is a suitable setting for our work. We should feel confident that we could meet daily requirements without being distracted.
Working from home can be the beginning of a happier and more productive career, but we need to make some careful considerations first. The process of working from home can vary greatly depending on what industry you work in. Freelancers are in quite a different position to those on contract, for example. But some of the principles of success can be applied across the board.
Discipline And Time Management
How we would manage our day and our working hours is perhaps the initial consideration we should take. Would our day be determined by the work we receive from a company, for example? If so, are we confident that we could meet deadlines and word counts without the extra support or encouragement of staff.
Many people find that they are more inclined to work harder when they see others doing the save. They thrive off a team mentality and group work ethic. It is a similar principle with exercise classes also. Many participants find that they are more likely to exert themselves when as part of a team, even if it is not outwardly competitive! If you find this is your natural inclination, you are probably a good candidate for a team environment. People who work from home rarely do so because they dislike teams or are constantly distracted by others.
However, there is often a strong tendency of self-motivation and drive that does not depend upon the encouragement of others. Think carefully and honestly about which type you are. Could you motivate yourself on a daily basis? If you are freelance, would you be able to find enough work that would occupy you throughout each day? Staying motivated and feeling productive is a key to successfully working from home. We should ensure we feel confident we could achieve this before embarking on the journey.
It is important to recognize that working from home would be unlikely to mean we don’t have to communicate. Communication becomes crucial when working from home. It is often important to clarify tasks you will be dealing with alone. Get into the habit of communicating regularly and openly.
Communicate with family and friends to ensure that they are aware of your situation and commitments. They will be more likely to offer support and reduce distraction if they understand what you are trying to achieve. If you have a current boss who you would like to discuss working from home with, communicate well.
Think carefully about what benefits this would have for both you and the company. How can you offset any potential drawbacks? Would a trial period be feasible, perhaps? Think of the ways you can communicate and collaborate with your employer to make you more valuable and productive. It is perhaps especially important to “communicate” with yourself too. Try to understand your motivations honestly.
Ensure that you genuinely feel working from home would be a positive option. Anyone can become tired, sluggish or disillusioned with their job. But working from home can sometimes make these issues worse, because you add trying to keep motivated to the pile. Ensure that you have not confused your desire to work from home with your desire for a break or change of scene. Time off or a temporary reduction of commitments could be more positive in that case.
It may sound silly at first, but our own mind can be a mystery to us until we think more deeply. There is never shame in being honest, and we should ensure we want to work from home for the right reasons. Communication is particularly important so that we keep perspective in our work and do not become isolated.
If we have decided to work from home, there are practical considerations as well as professional. We should ensure that we have a tidy, comfortable area of the home that is as free from noise and distraction as possible. We may only become aware of how uncomfortable our room is when we are required to work there on a daily basis, for example. The temperature and air circulation of a room can be crucial to our concentration.
A well lit, airy environment is usually preferred for work because of its effect on clarity and alertness. It is also important to take our health and safety seriously. Ensure that there is no poorly maintained equipment. Not only can this be unsafe but it can also affect our ability to deliver work on time.
Deadlines will be particularly crucial when working from home because we will not be so closely monitored or encouraged to keep up. It will be our responsibility to be reliable and professional. Our comfort is important for our productivity.
Consider investing in seating that supports your posture, for example. Ergonomically designed keyboards are essential for those who spend hours working on computers. Wrists supports can be important for typists. Screens should be clear and a suitable brightness.
Take your comfort and support seriously while at home because you will be the only one looking for hazards or areas of concern. It can be especially important not to become sick or incapacitated while working from home. We may not have the same avenues of support available to us as those working in a conventional setting. Occupational therapists, sick pay, and other advantages may well be lost to us. We should consider these carefully first and get informed. Then we should take our health, safety and comfort seriously. When we begin working from home, we become our own most valuable commodity!
When working from home, regular honest reviews are more important than ever. If we don’t have a single official employer to consult, we should do them ourselves. Depending on your workload and turnover, consider a timescale that would suit you. Weekly might not give some people a chance to truly test what works and what doesn’t, for example. Monthly might be too long between reviews and leave problems unaddressed for weeks.
Reviews as and when they are necessary are a good thing, but we should set dates too. Once every two weeks might be suitable as well as “trouble shooting” as we go along. Consider carefully whether you are achieving what you had expected to. Assess your energy levels and productivity.
Think of ways in which you could improve things as well as doing more of what is working well. If you have several employers or contracts such as in freelance work, ask for regular constructive feedback. Working from home can involve a lot of personal accountability. We often only have ourselves to rely on if problems arise. But it also means that we can feel a genuine sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when things are working well.
All work benefits from regular self-reflection, but working from home depends upon it. It can be helpful to have a trusted confidant to discuss matters with, even if they are not directly involved in our work. An objective pair of eyes or some fresh perspective can be helpful if we have a problem or need creative solutions. If we can combine careful considerations with a bit of creativity, we are likely to have a very successful career working from home.