Sunday, January 20, 2013

Six Considerations for Working at Home

Robin at his home office
Many people seek to escape the 8 to 5 humdrum of the workplace and work at home. But, before making a decision to work at home, you need to give consideration to some of the following issues.

Your work space

To successfully work from home you need a dedicated work space where you can set up your office with all the equipment and materials you need. This can be a spare bedroom or a part of the house separate from the main traffic areas. If you are super lucky, you may have a house with a dedicated office. There are more of these being designed into houses now.

You need to have such a workspace that allows you to walk away from work at appropriate times. Leave and shut the door!

Time commitment and distractions

If there are other people who share your house, it's essential you are able to allocate sufficient time to working and avoid distractions. Having young children knocking on your door, or a spouse who wants to discuss finances or other issues when you are at work can cripple your work output.

Another trap can be working 12 h days instead of six or eight hour days. It's easy to become over-involved and do too much work.

Social needs and loneliness

If you are a person who likes company, it can be very lonely working at home. You can go for days without seeing anyone but your immediately family (if you have one). Conversely, it might be the perfect solution for a loner who wants to spend most of their time alone.

Retaining Momentum

To work at home you need sufficient discipline to work when you are working and to not work when you have finished for the day. It's easy to get distracted ... I'll just go watch the television news hour, or go shopping with my spouse.

Additional Costs

When you work at home and need to have an air-conditioner cooling or heating your house, it can add an additional cost for gas or electricity that may not be payable when you work in someone else's office. Some of the costs could be offset by not having to buy suits, pay fuel prices to travel to work and so on. But they can be significant and need to be considered.

Bad Habits

At home, where you aren't being supervised or observed by your fellow workers, it's easy to let your smoking, drinking or eating habit get the better of you. When I began working from home full time, I found the refrigerator and pantry were too convenient. In the first year, I added four or five kilograms to my weight and a few additional centimetres about my waist. When I had been attending a workplace, I took my lunch and ate a light meal and occasionally bought food at a restaurant or cafe. At home, it was easy to eat more than I needed and I paid the penalty until I took stock of my behaviour.

I don't smoke and don't drink alcohol during work hours, but had I been a smoker, I could have become accustomed to smoking more frequently and commenced sipping a wine with lunch. These habits can be a recipe for poor health and maybe failure in the job you are doing.

Conclusion

I'm semi-retired ie, I don't take on a full time work load because I don't need to. I plan three sessions of golf per week (I need the exercise) and on two of those mornings I meet friends for coffee and a chat or have coffee and read the local newspaper at a local cafe. While I'm there someone I know always walks past and stops to say "Hello". As my wife works casually, it helps me deal with the alone
ness.

I plan my workload to suit what I want to do on any day and also to suit the hours of the day when I am more altert and feel like working. It suits me, but not everyone is in a position to work part-time.

I love being able to work in a pair of shorts and a polo shirt with sandals. Thank goodness the days of business shirts and ties are gone.

There are no doubt many positive and negative aspects about working at home that I haven't mentioned here. Can you think of any? Do you work from home, or out of home? What are your experiences? Share them with us in a comment.

Robin

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