With under a month to go until I start working from home, I’m beginning to give some serious thought to what this new arrangement will be like. It is daunting to know that there will no more pay checks coming at the end of the month and focus is going to be important when establishing a new income stream. Working from home should make it easier to focus but there will also be some disadvantages and fewer supports.The way I see things right now the benefits and disadvantages of working from home will stack up something like this:
Benefits of Working from Home
- Commuting : Depending on how much time you spend commuting, this can be a big advantage. For me, I spent 3 hours a day travelling. Working from home will give me the equivalent of an extra two full working days a week.
- Working environment : Open plan offices can be very noisy and full of distraction unless they are properly managed. Provided you have a dedicated working space away from family members, working from home should be quieter with fewer interruptions.
- Multitasking : It’s a small thing but I’m really looking forward to being able to put a load in the washing machine, sign for deliveries and do those minor domestic chores that only a take a minute or two but can be such a nuisance to organise when you don’t work from home.
- Family : Being your own boss can have positive and negative impacts on the family. The negative is that you’re never really “off duty” and work can intrude on family time if you let it. The positive, though, is that you control your own time and calendar and so you can plan ahead and/or make up time.
- Health : Health considerations were a factor in my decision to leave paid employment. My day job was sedentary and the working day was long. I spent 10 hours sitting at a desk and it had begun to feel like a long haul flight. Also, because my working day started before shops opened and ended after they had closed, my diet suffered. So, I’m looking forward to healthier eating and being able to build some exercise into my new daily routine.
Disadvantages of Working from Home
- Isolation : The most obvious disadvantage to working from home is isolation. Tactics to manage this include joining a business network and meeting up with other home workers in your locality — perhaps by arranging to meet for a mid-morning coffee once or twice a week. One of the most successful entrepreneurs I know, told me how he walked the length of the main street in his local town every morning when he was starting out — greeting everyone and getting to know his local business contacts. It’s a tactic that served him well— many of those locals became his clients.
- Focus : How will you manage your time and make sure that you’re spending your time on profitable activities. When you are responsible for everything, it can be difficult to focus on the things that matter most. Mind maps are a useful way to organise a busy brain. One of my favourite mind mapping tools is bubbl.us Consider setting aside blocks of time each week for planning and for admin. You may be your own boss but you still need to make sure that necessary tasks get done on time.
- Support : Working from home means having to be your own help desk, accountant and HR manager. If you don’t have the skills to manage your own website or accounts, you may need to hire someone to do it for you.
- Finance : When you start a new business, it can take some time before any money rolls in. The likelihood of having no income for a few months has to be included as a disadvantage of working from home but it is something that you can plan for and as long as your sums are realistic, you can minimise the impact — at least for the first few months.
One thing’s for sure, working from home will be a big change. Come the end of the month, it will be a relief to focus full time on my new business. I’m looking forward to being my own boss but I hope I’m also realistic enough not to see the future solely through rose-tinted glasses.