The idea of working from home may sound appealing to you, but how do you know that you are ready to kick off your WAH career? Have you thought about all the little details that are involved? Working from home offers many benefits, but how do you know if you can manage every aspect of working from home?
We asked these experts to offer their advice and narrow down three questions that helped them figure out if working at home was best for them. Hopefully you’ll get a better understanding of what is needed and involved in working at home successfully.
- Can I be productive despite distractions? No matter your family or home environment, there are going to be distractions when you are working at home. It may be a screaming toddler or it may be the dirty dishes in the sink. One way or the other, you are going to be distracted. Can you push forward and be productive despite those distractions – that’s an important question to ask and commitment to make to yourself before starting a WAH career.
- Can I keep my work life and home life separate? This has everything to do with having “work” hours and “home” hours. No one wants to feel like they are at work 24 hours a day; however, when you work from home, you are technically at work when you are at home. You have to ask yourself if you can keep the two separate and set forth some ground rules that you stick to, when it comes to keeping work and home separate.
- Do I have a space in my home that I can dedicate to work? This can vary depending on what type of work you are doing. In some jobs, you may only need a laptop and your work space can be a small cubby hole (or even a recliner!). But to be most productive and keep work and home separate, it is essential to carve out a niche in your home that is dedicated to work and work tasks. This also enables you to “go to work” and “come home from work” without ever leaving your house.
- Are you ready to give up your health benefits and 401k?
A lot of people think working at home will be so great (and it can be!). But some don’t realize what they’re giving up = benefits. Unless you can get on your spouse’s insurance, it’s best to factor in the cost of healthcare when looking at start-up expenses.
- Do you have the discipline to work from home? Starting a business involves a lot of work and research in the beginning. If you don’t like research or don’t have any patience, starting a business may not be for you. Just because you have internet, doesn’t mean you’re *poof*, an entrepreneur.
- Do you crave human interaction?
Sometimes working from home can get pretty lonely. There is no office water cooler to talk about last night’s “The Walking Dead” with. You have to make a conscious effort to meet others outside of your home “office”. Start attending networking meetings or luncheons to meet other entrepreneurs.
- Do I need to be social? If interacting with colleagues is a vital part of your professional personality, then working from home may be a challenge. Look for co-working spaces near you. These shared offices can be a great solution for extroverts who need some human interaction during the work day.
- Can I motivate myself and avoid distractions? Will you be able to get work done at home, and avid the call of chores or TV?
- What am I willing to give up for the freedom and flexibility of working from home? Is it a higher salary or career mobility? – think about your deal breakers, and what you’re willing to sacrifice to get the work schedule and environment you want.
- Do I have a quiet, organized, and distraction-free place to work in my home? -It takes a minimum of 8-10 hours of work a day to grow a new business from scratch. Most entrepreneurs work much longer than this each day – often 6 or even 7 hours a week – to establish themselves in the market.
- How will I network and stay updated on industry related events? -Working from home has its advantages – you don’t have to get dressed to the nines, commute to work, or deal with office politics. However, not being in the office has disadvantages as well. You miss water cooler gossip and networking opportunities: this makes it harder to stay on top of industry-related events and news.
- Am I self-motivated and able to work without supervision? -Working from home means that you don’t have coworkers and bosses looking over your shoulder every minute of the day. This can be a blessing for most, but also hard for some. This is because those working from home are not as accountable for the minute-by-minute efforts they’re putting in each day.
- Am I easily distracted? -When working from home, there are(believe it or not) more distractions than working from the office. You’ll have the children and your spouse there wanting your attention and asking if you can take a break. You’ll think that you can step away to run an errand when you really should be working. There will be greater temptation to surf the web and work on other things. Many who work from home still take the children to daycare and spend their days in a home office instead of the dining room or kitchen table. It helps them to focus and maintain a higher level of discipline.
- Do I truly enjoy working with others or do I prefer to work independently? -While the opportunity to work from home is attractive, to some it can be a negative experience after sometime.You’re starting at the same walls or out the same window every day. Some complain about needing a break from the monotony. There are some that simply work best in a more collaborative environment. They enjoy lunches with colleagues and water cooler conversations about how their weekends went. They like being able to walk over to a co-worker’s desk to ask a question and get the response they need right away. If this is you, you may not enjoy working from home for very long.
- Am I organized and know how to manage my time well? -This is the most important question you must ask yourself. I’ve had a WAH role before and found that the ability to manage my time was one of my greatest assets. Being able to create a schedule,organize priorities and stick to it came in handy over and over. Also, knowing when the day is over and it’s time to log off is huge! When you’re working from home, you can get comfortable and work longer hours because you’re home. You don’t have a commute to think about and you don’t have to rush home to take care of the children, etc. You’re already there! Take the time to structure your day and know when to shut things down. Treat your day like any other day in the office. Don’t get distracted. Stay on task. Start on time, take a break in the middle of the day and end on time.
Note from Leslie:
This week’s experts offer really good advice on what you should consider before working at home. While working from home offers many perks, there are some challenges you should anticipate. The questions I feel would-be home-based workers need to ask are:
- Am I reliable and accountable? Many view working at home as a more informal situation than a traditional job. But just because you may work in your jammies, doesn’t mean you can blow of work. Your boss, clients or customers have invested in you, and you need to do what you can to deliver for them.
- Can I think on your feet? Working at home often means working alone. That means you need you’re the one that needs to figure and fix IT problems, be resourceful when something goes wrong, problem solve issues, and be creative when things aren’t going quite right.
- Can I work independently and alone? You might have access to groups online, but working at home often means working solo. It can be a lonely, isolating experience. It also means there’s no one around to bounce ideas off of, ask questions of, or get support.
Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
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