I’ve been working from home for the past decade. Lucky, I know. Which is what everyone tells me when they find out that my office is sometimes my dining table, a study table at the corner of my living room, and if it’s an easy day, a table outside my back garden so I can enjoy a cup of coffee while replying emails.
But what they don’t know is that working from home is more than just being able to choose your view. Of course there are the perks – being able to manage your own time, taking a break whenever you want to, no more traffic jams... but it also comes with a set of responsibilities to ensure you actually complete your work – and on time too!
Can it be done? Sure – if you know what you’re getting yourself into. So whether you’re contemplating going freelance or thinking of taking up the company’s offer for flexi-hours, read this first to see if you have what it takes to work from home.
Take it from me – there are so many other things you’d rather be doing at home rather than work. Like catching up on your favourite Netflix series, playing with your pet, pottering about in the kitchen making another cup of coffee or looking for things to snack on. You can even be in front of your computer about to start work when you decide to sign into Facebook “for just a minute” to see what’s up (next thing you know it’s an hour later!)
Unlike at the office, you can’t make yourself as comfortable as you would at home. You’re more likely to sit in your cubicle and do actual work because that’s what everyone else is doing. But it’s a completely different story at home, also known as your comfort zone where there’s the couch and the bed which look way more inviting than work.
Which is why laser focus is the first thing you need when you’re thinking of working at home. It’s easy to get distracted (trust me, I’ve been there many times) and even easier to spend hours doing things aside from work.
What to do? Treat your at-home gig like a proper job. Which means, waking up at the same time as you would if you’re going to the office, getting dressed instead of lounging in your PJs), and making a to-do list for the day. Set the same hour for lunch breaks. Check your emails first thing in the morning. Log off work like you would for your 9-to-5 so that there is a clear distinction between work and rest at home. This helps get you in the zone and trains your mind to treat your home office like it is a real workplace where things get done.
Get used to working alone!
A lot of my friends who used to work from home decided they are better off in the office because they couldn’t get used to the loneliness as well as not having colleagues to talk to or have lunch with. If being surrounded by people and the need to talk to others is important, you may want to think twice about working from home. Some people thrive from having colleagues to interact with, which is perfectly normal as it creates a certain connection or bond. Just know that when you’re working from home, there are no colleagues to check in with or have a quick chat regarding what you did over the weekend.
Which isn’t bad if you’re the type that needs peace and quiet to get things done. You can always catch up with friends or ex-colleagues during lunch (which is a perk when you’re working from home – your own time to have lunch with whomever, wherever!)
Are you motivated?
It’s one thing to say yes you want to work from home and another to do it. Whether it is a flexi-hour thing or you run your own gig, know that you are in charge of everything, and that includes making sure you get work done! There won’t be bosses to remind you of reports or colleagues asking you for your part of the job. Which is why it’s easy to watch Netflix instead of working because nobody’s going to catch you doing it, right?
It is up to you to stay motivated. How? Think of daily and weekly goals. Discipline yourself to sit down and get these goals down. Procrastination is the home-worker’s biggest enemy so don’t put yourself in a situation where you’re burning the midnight oil to get the report out when you had four days before that to complete it.
Is your home ideal to work home?
If your home is constantly filled with people or the TV is always blaring in the background, it may not be the ideal situation for a home gig! You need a space that is conducive for you to focus and get work done, ie a quiet area with zero distraction. You can’t always work out of a Starbucks. So before considering turning your home in an office, think of whether you have a spot you can convert into your workstation to get serious work done. And keep it organised and tidy too – it won’t help your concentration if you’re working amidst dirty cups, used papers everywhere and bits of food here and there.
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