In the UK in 2012, around 13% of the workforce work mainly from home. That is an increase of 21% since 2001. In America, the increase has been 41% since 1999 and where the States leads we tend to follow.
At Toolkit, we know many of our clients run businesses from home, so here’s a helpful guide to enjoying the lack of a morning commute but not falling prey to some of the pitfalls of working from home.
Here are four of the commonest problems home workers face, and how to keep on top of them.
1 – Focus.
When you shut the door and jump in a car before setting up at a desk you can leave the troubles and distractions of home behind. When you stroll from the shower to a home office, the dishes are screaming to you from downstairs, the television is a few steps away and there’s no internet filter or logging to stop you logging on to Facebook for a couple of hours.
It’s a good idea to try to replicate the positive features of a work place in your home office. Try to set up an area that is just dedicated to work, so when you shut the door you know it is time to put your business head on. If you still struggle to forget that you’ve promised the kids to put some shelving up in their bedroom, try taking a break from the environment as a whole – take a walk and get a cup of coffee.
2 – Boundaries
In an office, you’re in a very defined environment dedicated to getting things done. Personal calls are put on hold until the end of the day and your partner knows that you can’t be expected to get the shopping done while you’re dealing with work. This can go out of the window when you’re at home all day.
Again, bringing a professional environment and schedule to your home office can help build boundaries. It’s crucial that you let people know that your job is just as tough as theirs is and is to be treated with the same respect. Making sure you’re at your desk at 9am and you take the same breaks you would in a nine to five job can help too.
3 – Overworking
Once the distractions of day-to-day life and building a schedule have been conquered, there’s another danger lurking: not turning off. Envious friends might thing you’re enjoying a lie in and coffee and cakes whenever you fancy it, but it can be far too easy to forget to stop work. There are no colleagues leaving at 5pm and turning the lights off to remind you that it’s time to stop.
Set strict boundaries and don’t neglect your social life. Particularly if you are running your own business, it can be tough to know when to say ‘enough is enough’. Working hard comes with the territory for most self-employed people, but if you’re going to last the long haul then you need to work to a schedule that isn’t going to burn you out.
4 – Isolation
Saying goodbye to office politics and poisonous gossip can be one of the great joys of working from home. However, it’s likely you’re going to be spending most of your time on your own, and that can take its toll. Loneliness and isolation can, over time, become serious issues and even lead to problems with depression.
If you’re working from home, you’ll need to recognise that you need to put some effort and planning into maintaining a social life too. If you can keep their use to reasonable hours then sites like Twitter and Facebook can replace the interactions of the coffee room. Some jobs, even when worked from home, can provide a good deal of interaction, make the most of it and talk to people by phone or Skype rather than emailing when possible.
Look to business networking groups for some real life contact that could help your business prosper. A growing trend in the States is for home workers to come together and share offices and it’s coming to the UK, Sharedesk now have British offices for sharers.
Working from home is a great opportunity for most people, and as technology advances, it’s only going to become more common, so if you do have the chance, make the most of it.
Get in touch with Toolkit Websites, Website Designers in Southampton, Hampshire, UK and see how we can help your business grow.