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Starting / Working from home

Work from home: cons and cures

The ability to work from home works a treat for most of us. But there are pitfalls for the unaware. Luckily, they’re easy to avoid.

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During National Telework Week, I was interviewed by a journalist about the pros and cons of being able to work from home. I talked her ear off about the positives – flexibility, freedom, the 30-second commute from bed to desk…

And the cons? “Well, there are a few,” I said, listing some common obstacles.

“But for every downside, there’s a way to overcome it,” I told the reporter, confident as a baseball batter calling the shot.

Unfortunately, time limitations meant I didn’t get to swing the bat and articulate the remedies. So for the record, rather than leave my grandiose statement hanging there, here’s how I tackle some of the challenges of working from home.

Feeling isolated

Two words: social networking. But to really feel connected, you have to contribute. Don’t be a wallflower in the forums, on Twitter or Facebook. It’s give and take.

"In the same way you have to be disciplined to achieve tasks during the day, you have to be disciplined not to achieve them when it’s home time."

Also, face-to-face networking is important. Don’t wait for the “right” event to appear. Take the initiative and start a Flying Solo meet-up.

Those who feel stir crazy at home could consider spending a couple of hours in a café. Just having people around for a while is very therapeutic. For cafés without internet access, tether your smartphone to your laptop.

Want more articles like this? Check out the working from home section.

Drawing a line between work and ‘home’ time

A closed door can help demarcate work from living space, but not everyone has the luxury of working in a separate room of the house; and what’s more – smartphones and laptops mean the office can move with you, no matter where you are.

Wherever your workspace, drawing a line involves a mental shift. In the same way you have to be disciplined to achieve tasks during the day, you have to be disciplined not to achieve them when it’s home time.

If work does occasionally encroach on the time you’re meant to be at ‘home’, communication is key. Announce clearly to the family when you’ll next be wholly available and don’t let work take disproportionate precedence over loved ones.

The perception of others that you’re not working

Who else keeps the fact they’re working at a café quiet, for fear people might think you’re enjoying yourself too much? Many from the full-time-employed clan can’t grasp that enjoyment and work are not mutually exclusive, and that soloists can do them both at the same time. Next time you receive a remark from someone that implies you don’t work as hard as you do, kindly send them the link to this article.

There’s numerous other challenges: namely dealing with boredom, distractions, interruptions and managing your own performance and productivity, which have been covered elsewhere on Flying Solo (thank goodness for hyperlinks!).

And next time I’m asked about overcoming the challenges I face when I work from home, I’ll have a home run hit to hyperlink my statement to.

What’s the biggest challenge you face when you work from home, and how do you overcome it? 

Jodie McLeod

is a freelance copywriter, editor and journalist, and former Editor of Flying Solo. If you're after an intelligent crafter of catchy copy who has loads of experience with words, ads and ideas, get in touch.

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