One in every five people works from home, and that number is increasing. With more technology and resources at their fingertips, employees are able to telecommute, and they’re reaping the benefits. Besides saving money, telecommuting can also make employees more comfortable, and, in turn, lead to increased productivity. But in order for someone to be successful at working from home, they have to be able to avoid distractions and maintain the right mindset.
Here’s a look at five biggest challenges that come with telecommuting and some tips to overcome them:
1. Family and Pet Distractions: In surveys of telecommuters, children and family members wanting attention is one of the biggest distraction. Additionally, almost half of the people working from home said they had to deal with children and pets disturbing them during work calls.
What’s the solution? Set rules with family and friends, and let them know when you are not available. Most importantly, ensure they are aware of any scheduled conference calls to limit any background noises or interruptions.
2. Personal and Work Tasks Become Blurred: It’s easier to set work boundaries when your work is located outside of your home. At work you’re not bothered by personal issues. As home, in most cases, you’re not having to deal with work items. However, all those boundaries go out the window when you’re working from home.
What’s the solution? I recommend creating a dedicated space for work, preferably with a door, or other barrier to separate your work area from the home. This gives you and your family the external cue that you’re working.
3. Isolation: At most jobs, one of the perks of working in an office is being around other people on a regular basis. Working from home can be lonely. Even social media and email may not fill the void.
What’s the solution?Visit your employer’s office or connect with work via live conference or Skype. Work in a public place, attend networking events, and plan business lunches. Getting around other people can not only make you feel less lonely, but offers the opportunity to network, get feedback and more.
4. Not Enough Resources: Some workers face the challenge of not having all of the tools, supplies and equipment they need.
What’s the solution? Flexible work space options are becoming a trend for people who work from home. These spaces give workers a place to hold meetings, print documents, and more. They are available by the hour, day, week or month, so they can be used as needed.
5. Lack of Communication with Supervisors and Colleagues: Communication is another big barrier to working at home. Emails can be misunderstood. Laack of communication can be viewed as a lack of commitment to the job.
What’s the solution? Maintaining regular contact with colleagues and managers will ensure status of projects and deadlines are understood by all. Use technology like videoconferencing and instant messaging to remain in regular contact.
Ultimately, if you’re wondering whether you’ll be successful at telecommuting, just ask yourself one question: “Will I be able to focus and get the job done?” If you can answer that in the affirmative, you’re in a good place. But be sure to anticipate some of the challenges, such as disruptions from family or feelings of isolation so you can deal with them before they become a problem.