Working from home might be considered the new American dream. Whether an employer offers remote work options or you’re running your own home-based business, the statistics show that most people are happier and more productive in a work from home situation. As ideal as it may seem, it doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges.
From my twelve years of experience running my business, here are what I consider the three biggest working from home challenges.
While it may be the best thing for work/life balance, working from home often creates another work/life dilemma. Boundaries. When your office is also your home, all of those household things that need to be done are surrounding you as you work.
Getting distracted by laundry, the kids, friends dropping by, etc. requires you to set boundaries with yourself and others. This is why having an office set apart from the rest of your home in some way is ideal. Stress to yourself and others that when you are ‘in office’ it’s to be treated accordingly. The moment you sit (or stand) at your desk, household activities are no longer a priority.
That’s not to say you can’t be more available to the kids, but that time needs to be allocated, you can’t just blow off your business because little Jenny forgot her homework and needs you to bring it to her at school. Remind friends and family members that you are, in fact, working and can’t just leave the office on a whim.
The boundaries you need to draw go both ways as well. You need to set times when you aren’t available for work and are focusing on home and family.
It’s super easy to get consumed by work when its right there in your home with you. Set a quitting time each day and not only shut off the computer but disconnect from business email and phone calls. Be sure to take weekends and holidays off the same way you would if you were working outside the home.
It’s not something people often talk about, but it’s incredibly easy to become a workaholic when you are working from home. Setting solid boundaries between work and home life is the number one challenge I’ve found working from home.
Staying motivated when you first start working from home tends to be easy but the longer you do so, the harder it can become. Especially when you hit a slow period or something is going on in your personal life that is causing excitement or stress.
When business is slow or you are still struggling to find clients, it’s incredibly easy to waste time on social media or fall down the online rabbit hole. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean there won’t be days that you wake up and just don’t feel like working. Without co-workers or supervisors around to be accountable to, you risk falling into a pattern of low productivity and just doing what you must to get by. The good news is that even working from home you can find ways to stay motivated.
Making connections with others who work from home gives you a support system when motivation starts to lag. Setting up coffee chats, either in person or via video chat gives you access to others that deal with the same working from home challenges that you have. When you’re lacking motivation, chances are one of your support buddies is brimming with it. It can be contagious.
There can also be an abundance of motivation and inspiration found by watching some TedTalks or finding a home business blogger (like me!) to follow. It may take some creative thinking, but it’s possible to overcome the motivation challenge.
For some people, this one might be their number one challenge working from home. If you’re an extrovert, spending every day with only your own company can be difficult. For me, an introvert, it may not be number one, but it is still in the top three. Going it alone can be lonely. Even if you have a great support system in place, simply working by yourself every day can take it’s toll. It’s important to find ways to feel less disconnected from others.
Luckily there are options out there. From renting a co-working space a few days a month to listening to podcasts, you can find ways to feel less alone and make working from home a bit less lonely. I’ve advocated working from coffee shops here before, so if renting a co-working space is out of your budget grab a coffee and enjoy the bustle of your local coffee shop. Working from your local library is also an option if a coffee shop isn’t close by.
The point is to just get out somewhere where there are other people around. If for some reason working outside of your office isn’t a viable option for you, go somewhere for lunch break. Even if you just take a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up ingredients for dinner, getting out and interacting with other human beings can make you feel less alone when you get back to your office space.
If the silence drives you crazy, try listening to audio books or podcasts. Another person’s voice can alleviate the solitude more than you might realize.
Although it’s the dream job for many, there are still some challenges when working from home. Those challenges may vary depending on your own personality and characteristics. These three are my biggest working from home challenges. Yours may be completely different. One thing remains the same. With a bit of thinking outside the box, it’s possible to meet those challenges and overcome them in your home business journey.