The Perils of Working from Home

I’m a true believer in allowing people to work in whatever way is most effective for them. But working from home isn’t always as idyllic as it might first appear. Here are just a few factors that you should consider before leaving the office behind for good.

Do you have room for a home office?

Do you have a space in your home that’s suitable for use as a workplace? You will need a desk and a good ergonomic chair. Uniform lighting and access to natural daylight are important if you plan to work at home for long periods, as is a good monitor that can be adjusted to the right height and angle. You will probably need air conditioning during the summer months. A reliable Internet connection is a must, but you will also need access to IT resources that we take for granted in the office, such as printers, scanners, and access to storage.

perils of working at home
Working at home can increase worker productivity, but there are other factors to consider. Like screaming babies, for one. (Source: Dreamstime)

Over the last few years, my cat has eaten several notebooks and cell phone charger cables, and one of those difficult-to-find USB cables for attaching external hard drives, so make sure that your home office is cat, dog, and child proof.

Are you self-disciplined about getting things done?

You don’t have the boss breathing down your neck, walking past your desk every five minutes to check that you aren’t playing Solitaire or checking Facebook messages today for the umpteenth time. But getting work done at home can sometimes be more challenging than in the office. Not only is the physical absence of your boss and colleagues a good reason to procrastinate for longer than usual, but at home there are lots of other distractions that can lead to a drop in productivity.

The contents of the fridge, housework, aimlessly staring out the window, or booking a hotel for next months’ vacation, can all easily take priority over work. The Internet can also be a diversion, with no checks on how much time you’re spending on social networking sites or shopping for cool new gadgets on Amazon.

So you have noisy neighbors?

If you usually work in a large open plan office, the idea of working at home can seem especially attractive. That is until your neighbors decide to have their flat renovated. When the drilling and hammering starts at 8 am, you can be sure that within a couple of hours, you will have been driven completely crazy by the constant racket, and any hopes of getting down to some serious business will have evaporated.

Have you set boundaries with family and friends?

Just as you get into the zone — a term used by writers for a period of concentration and heightened productivity — a friend calls and demands your attention, because you don’t have anything better to do, right? Friends and family think that you don’t have a real job if you work from home, and every day you get a list of household chores: the laundry, grocery shopping, and putting out the garbage, etc.

Working from home isn’t all bad though, and the benefits generally outweigh any disadvantages. Check out some of the technology and benefits of working from home in Workers Are Happier Being Mobile and Working Remotely.