The Trouble with Working from Home

Written on Tuesday, July 26th, 2011 at 1:55 am by Adaire
Filed under Financial Freedom.

Would you like to run your own business? I’m sure a lot of you do; after all, who wouldn’t want to be their own boss? :) I think that anyone who has the passion to start up their own business can do it, and with the power of the internet and online stores, it’s relatively easy to get started.

There is, however, one aspect of running a business that I believe can never be solely internet-based: having an office. I myself began my business in the comfort of my own home, mostly because it was more convenient and it cost me much less than if I rented out an office. It worked pretty well when I was starting out, but after a while, it became obvious that I needed an office away from home. Nathan Jansch’s Healthy Wealthy nWise article, “The Seven Problems with Working at Home”, actually discusses all of them in great detail, but I think I can summarize them even further for you right here. :)

Decreased Productivity
Working at home seemed to be a dream come true at first. I liked the setup because I was able to handle my personal errands while still working on my business, and there were no nosy co-workers or superiors poking around to see what I was doing. The problem with this was that, over time, I started spending more and more time doing non-work related things while I was at home. Sometimes I’d tell myself I’d spend only a few moments checking my Facebook newsfeed, then I’d get so caught up in it that an hour would zip by without me even realizing it. I found myself engaging in lengthy online chat sessions with my relatives abroad instead of working on the e-mails I had to respond to.

In other words, the relaxed environment and the privacy of my own home made me become more prone to procrastination. Sure, it was more fun to work at my own pace and to not have a boss who was ready to kick me to the curb the moment he spots me doing something unproductive, but that wasn’t really good for my work. Without the pressure of having other people checking up on me, I became too complacent. When I realized that, I figured that working from home is actually means you have to work even harder than you would at an office because you have to exercise a lot of self-discipline to counter-act the temptation to procrastinate.

No Tech Support
System breakdowns and internet problems can easily be addressed when you’re working in an office. You don’t even have to fix things yourself; you can just send out an e-mail or a support ticket to your IT guys, and voila! They’ll have the problem fixed for you in minutes.

When working from home, you’re going to have to do your own trouble-shooting if something goes wrong with your laptop. If you’re like me and aren’t tech-savvy, attempting to fix things on your own is going to cost you precious minutes or even hours.

Less Privacy
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Hold on, Adaire. Didn’t you just say that working at home means there won’t be any people to boss you around or check on what you’re doing? Doesn’t that mean that you actually get more privacy when you work from home?”

More privacy? Not exactly. Sure, you won’t have your co-workers or boss wandering around your home office, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never have to entertain any business associates at home. Even in this modern age where the internet reigns supreme, conducting meetings and discussions in person is still the best way to go about it. Now if you’re working from home, then where do you think these personal meetings will be done? In your home office, of course.

That was exactly how it was for me. My home was the venue for everything from meetings with my clients to interviews with my potential assistants. At first this was fine with me since I lived on my own and had no children or other relatives to worry about, but at some point it felt like my privacy was being invaded.

Sometimes I had to be flexible and accommodate clients and interviewees even beyond office hours. “That’s fine,” I thought. “I’m always at home anyway. No problem there.” I didn’t realize that there would be so much work involved in setting-up a meeting at home. I found that I had to tidy my house up to avoid giving my guests a bad impression about my cleanliness and discipline. After meetings and other business discussions, I would have to clean up again. Then when I’d start heading to my bedroom for a well-deserved rest, I spot my laptop and realize that I have some other work-related tasks I have to catch up on. After weeks of this routine, I realized that my personal, private life had become a mere sideline to me.

Decreased Credibility
Someone who works from home is often belittled and often dismissed as unprofessional. That may sound mean, but it’s the cold, hard truth. I’ve had clients suddenly back out of a potential deal after finding out that I worked from home, or refused to come to a meeting because it would be held at my house.

The fact of the matter is, people tend to think that entrepreneurs who work from home are just too lazy to get up and find a “proper” job, or that you’re not making enough money to rent out an appropriate office space. Regardless of how neat and tidy your home office is, the fact that it’s located in your house can give off the wrong impression to people.

Working Alone
While I often find that I can actually concentrate on work better when I’m alone, I still believe that working around people is something that can really be good for any entrepreneur (or any normal human being, for that matter :) ). Humans are social creatures, and becoming isolated by working from home can have negative effects. Like what Nathan says in his article, “working alone may lead to depression, insomnia, physical illness and more”. Even though some co-workers can be annoying and disruptive to your momentum, getting to chat with them during breaks can sometimes be a welcome relief from the tedium of work. And like what I said previously, having people around you can actually help you increase your productivity since you’ll feel more obligated to impress them with your work. :)

Working from home may sound like a lot of fun, there are negative consequences that you need to consider before you decide to go for it. Personally, I find that working from home is great when you’re just starting out, but as you progress in your career, you’ll really need to get out there and find an office space away from your home.

Adaire


Image by: Graur Razvan Ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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