Are You Cut Out For Working From Home?

iStock 000016732914XSmall Are You Cut Out For Working From Home?For many people, working from home is a dream. Others, though, don’t really enjoy working from home. I see this difference in style every day. I enjoy working from home, and am glad that I have a career that allows me to do that. My husband, on the other hand, doesn’t enjoy working from home nearly as much. He’d rather go in to work than stay at home and work.

What you prefer depends largely on your personal style, and what’s important to you. Before you decide to work from home, whether you want to run a home business, or whether you ask your boss if you can telecommute a couple days a work, it’s a good idea to have a solid idea of whether or not working from home fits your personality.

Social Interaction

One of the biggest issues that many have with working from home is the social interaction. My husband likes social interaction, and he likes to feel as though he is helping people (this is why he is a university professor). He likes to go in, get to know the students, and help them with their assignments.

Working from home doesn’t offer that same level of human interaction. One of the biggest challenges many people face when they work from a home office is the isolation. I don’t mind so much. I like that I don’t have to worry about office politics, and that I don’t have to try to be friendly all the time. However, I still feel lonely sometimes. Working online means that I find other ways to make connections, either by chatting online with others in a similar situation, or getting out of the house and having lunch with a friend a couple times a month.

Before you decide to work from home, consider your social preferences, and imagine the isolation. Be realistic about your need for human contact, and take that into account as you make your decisions.

Self-Motivation

When you work from home, you don’t have a boss who can just pop over to your workstation to make sure that you are on task. Those who work for others might have deadlines to help motivate them. Even in this case, though, it can be hard to motivate yourself to stay on task when you are on your own, and you don’t have team members around you to help you. A home business owner, especially a solopreneur without employees, has to be especially self-motivated and ready to start on his or her own.

As a home worker, you need to be able to get yourself started out on essential tasks. You also need to be motivated to see a project through. This can be very difficult if you aren’t naturally a self-starter. While self-motivation can be learned and developed, it can be a rough process if you aren’t used to it. Before you decide to take your work home with you, make sure you can keep things moving on your own.

Can You Quit?

One of the most difficult things for me is to put the work away. Since I work from home, there isn’t the same sort of geographical buffer that my husband has with his work. He can stay at the university and grade papers, and when he comes home, he doesn’t have to worry as much about what’s not done yet.

When you work from home, your tasks are in the next room. Even if you are done with the most important items on your to-do list, it’s still hard at times to stop thinking about what you could do next. Sometimes, though, you need to just take a step back and relax. Over the years, I’ve been learning to put the laptop down, and just relax. While a good work ethic is admirable, you don’t win relationship points with others when you’re always working. Working from home requires a little extra effort to separate yourself from the work. If you can’t manage that, you might find work taking over your life.

Distractions

Don’t forget about the distractions. One of the reasons my husband finds working from home so irksome is that there is always something going on. My son wants to tell him about some new Lego set he wants, or I want to talk about a book I’m reading. Working from home also often means you have unfettered access to the Internet, the TV, and the fridge. You don’t have regular breaks, and anything can become an excuse to abandon your work and do something else.

While working in a traditional office has its own distractions, there are reminders all around you to keep on task. If you think that you will be too distracted at home to accomplish what you would like, it might not be the best situation for you.

It’s true, though, that if you really want to work from home it’s possible to overcome most of the challenges that come with a home office. There are ways to limit your distractions, find meaningful interactions with others, and to learn to motivate yourself.  But before you take the plunge, make sure you understand what you are getting into, and how you plan to overcome the difficulties.

So, do you work at home? If so, do you like it and why?

 Are You Cut Out For Working From Home?

About Miranda (Staff Writer)

Miranda is a freelance writer and professional blogger specializing in business, personal finance, and investing. She is a contributor for several personal finance web sites, and her work has been mentioned in, and linked to from, several online and offline publications. Miranda also has her own personal finance blog: Planting Money Seeds.

Comments

Are You Cut Out For Working From Home? — 36 Comments

  1. I am able to work from home with my current employer and I find that I get WAY more done than when I am in the office. I have less distractions and am in a far more comfortable environment (particularly my chair – it’s soooo good)

  2. Great points. My wife and I run our own business from home and many of these are applicable. She has been running the business for several years before I left my job to help expand the business. Key is to be motivated and minimizing distractions. Of course with three little ones running around, that can be a bit difficult. :)

  3. I love working from home so far. It’s much better for me to figure out my own schedule. It’s always annoying when the boss want me to do something. I’m much better off on my own. :) Yeah, the distraction is a big problem though. Perhaps when my kid goes off to school, then I’ll be able to concentrate a bit better.

  4. I don’t think I can work from home, but I wouldn’t completely discount it either. I was able to get a degree from UoP while at home and that takes decipline, but I wonder if I could do it full time every day, every week, all year. Maybe. I do like being alone, but I have never not had a job to go to. I think I could do it part time for sure!

    • My husband is the same way. He teaches at two universities, and he can do a lot of it from home. However, he likes to go in three days a week, and he stays after teaching his classes, since he gets more done, and he can interact with the students. He hates the idea of teaching online full time (even though he could) because he doesn’t want to work from home ALL the time.

  5. From reading your posts, especially this one, I think we are very alike. I enjoy working from home because I don’t mind the isolation and love being away from office politics. But it does take a lot of motivation, will-power and being able to avoid distractions. I especially struggle to stop working. When I find I am struggling to concentrate I take the dogs for a walk and come back refreshed and motivated again. Thanks for sharing on Bizsugar.com

  6. Very thought provoking article, Miranda. I had a sabbatical last year and found that working from home entirely is very likely to kill me. It sounds as an exaggeration but I failed the quitting part – i just could not stop working. I wrote up to 13 hours a day – which is actually silly because after the forth hour one usually finds they are just sittng at their desk being busy rather than being productive. I had problem training – am a long distance runner normally.

    So, no, I was not cut out to work from home full time. Being an acadmic gives me the luxury to stay at home couple of days a week and go in the rest of the time.

    • Well at least you tried it to see what would work for you and what wouldn’t. I have heard of many people that end up working than they should when working at home. I think because work is at home you can have hard time separating and leaving it. This is a lot easier when you can drive away to a different location.

    • I’ve seen research that shows that you can get a lot more done if you just go solid for 4 hours. When I get in that zone, I do get a lot more done. And, like you said, you get to the point where you are just tired. My husband likes to joke that I get grumpy if I have to work much past lunch time. I just feel like I should be done.

  7. I think anybody is cut out for working from home. Every issue mentioned in the article comes down to discipline. That’s all it is. If you’re disciplined you can productively work from home. This is especially true when it comes to motivation and distractions. It all comes down to discipline.

  8. Working from home has really suited my personality, though I know that isn’t the case for everyone. I’m very introverted – I love interacting with people, but it gets exhausting sometimes. Without all the politics and drama of my former office job, I’m able to concentrate and be more productive. It also helps that I LOVE what I do every day. I’ve never felt isolated or lonely; I have too much work to do to worry about that!

    • I’m with you, Andrea. Sometimes, it becomes exhausting to interact with others in the “real” world. One of the nice things about working from home is that if I want to go away and be left alone, it’s fairly easy.

  9. This is good insight I’ll need to chew on. I was the director of sales for a non-profit and was pretty autonomous (wasn’t bothered too much by bosses). I managed an office of 140 so in a way, I was managed by the demands of their needs.

    I got burnt out, and decided to go freelance. Now I write my own blog as well as case studies for a contingent workforce company. The distractions and self-motivation make me much less effective than having managed a big office. If only there were a happy medium between the two.

    I’ll be thinking about what you wrote, I’m thinking of jumping back into the “full-time” world.

  10. I love working at home. I’m an introvert so I enjoy the alone time. I also like having control over my schedule and not having to clock in anywhere. My non-working life is full of family, friends and activities so it’s a good balance for me.

  11. I am in a position to test-drive working from home (I work 4 ten-hour days and have three day weekends). I love my Fridays, but find that sometimes I am in a non-productive funk. Generally it works out well though; then I work on Saturday and Sunday. I have trouble carving out “life” time, but am making progress in this area. Great question you raise!

  12. I’m more productive working from home, which I do from time to time. That said, I think face time is also really important (whether it should be is another debate entirely…) and as I’m not a particularly social creature having that interaction built into my day is a good thing in my books.

  13. ..it’s better to work from home specially if you already have a family of your own. It will strengthen the bond with your kids because even if you’re working, you are still there for them and they can easily find you. Not like if you’re in an office for instance, it sucks that you are not beside your kid if he is sick. Great post. Thanks.

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