Top 10 Challenges to Working At Home
by Maria Marsala
Summary: It sounds ideal, doesn’t it? Conference
calls in your pajamas, doing laundry in between talking to clients,
saving money on all those work lunches! But is working from home
always a perfect situation?
It sounds ideal, doesn’t it? Conference calls in your pajamas,
doing laundry in between talking to clients, saving money on all those
work lunches! But is working from home always a perfect situation?
Here are some things to watch out for if you’re already working from
home, or things to think about if you’re considering making the move.
- This is work, this is home.
Keep your office and house as separate as possible. Create an office
that you really enjoy walking into and that has everything you want
in one area. Organization books call it a "zone": an area of the
house having one purpose.
- Hello, is anyone there?
Some home workers – both telecommuters and independent business
folks – report isolation as a challenge. There’s no one around to
bounce ideas off of, or complain about the boss! One way around this
is to make an active effort to get out – meet for coffee or lunch
with business associates or clients, attend networking meetings in
your area. You’ll get your dose of adult company, and maybe some
good business contacts, too.
- It’s how much?
Many home workers who own their own business are surprised to find
out how much "benefits"– health insurance, sick leave, vacation time
– actually cost. When you’re calculating prices for your services,
don’t forget to include these items in your planning.
- Do they take you seriously?
Some clients may be predisposed to view you as less than
"professional" if they know you are working from home. This is
certainly changing, but just in case, make sure everything about
your company is "professional" – voicemail, website, and marketing
materials. And don’t forget your appearance!
- Keeping yourself on track.
It takes a certain amount of discipline to work at home – either for
yourself or as a telecommuting employee. You are responsible for
your schedule, and while this is certainly a major attraction for
many home workers, you do need to make time to get everything done.
Some people split their days into a daytime block (4-6) hours and
then a nighttime block (2-3) hours, so that they can be with their
- Throwing your hats in the ring.
As a home business owner, you have to wear a lot of hats, especially
when you’re first starting out. You’ll be fulfilling all these
roles: Human Resources, Information Technology, Accounting, and
Marketing – and that’s in addition to doing the "work" you’re
actually paid for. Make sure you budget time, energy – and money –
to take care of these other functions.
- Yes, I’m here, but I’m not here!
The other side of the "isolation" coin for business owners working
from home is boundaries. If you’re not careful, work can "invade"
your personal life. Make a schedule and stick to it - know when
you’re working and when you’re being part of your family. Let your
family know that just because you’re physically present doesn’t mean
- Save here, spend there.
The good news is you’ll probably save money on automobile
wear-and-tear, gas, and business clothing by working from home. The
downside is that you’ll need working capital to begin your business
and also for unexpected emergencies. (Remember #6 above – You’re the
IT person, and if your computer dies – guess who’s paying for a new
- Susan, let go of your brother’s hair.
One of the key reasons many people give for wanting to work from
home is to be able to take care of children, but be realistic about
what you really can accomplish if you’re caring full-time for one or
more children. When they’re small, you’re doing everything for them,
and that’s time-consuming. As they get older, they can do more for
themselves, but may also want more of your attention. Yes, you have
flexibility with your hours, but if your plan is to work full-time
hours from home, you’ll almost certainly need to factor in some
"non-you" childcare hours each day.
- You have now entered the business zone.
In many cities, townships, etc., you can only legally run a business
from your home if your neighborhood is zoned for business. Many
small business owners are able to operate "under the radar" as long
as neighborhood traffic is not impacted. Others always visit clients
at the client’s place of business, so the only "business" they’re
conducting at home is the actual work to produce their service or
product. Check your local laws to see what’s needed.
By and large, most people who work from home really enjoy the
freedom and flexibility it offers. But not all. Before you quit your
“day” job, or get new business cards printed, make sure working from
home is the best choice for you, your family, and your business!
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