Liberating or Isolating - working from home?

working at home

I was listening to Woman's Hour while driving to a meeting in town yesterday and caught the discussion about working from home.

Having worked from home myself for several years, I've seen both sides.  Whether you work from home as a freelancer or as an employee.

In some ways it's totally liberating, as you can work in your own environment, create your own boundaries around your time and it allows you to work flexibly.
  • If you're working around children and a family it can be a good way to adjust your hours so you work around school runs, nursery and childcare but that also has it's challenges.
  • You avoid the hours spent on the daily commute into work - delays in traffic or sitting on cramped, crowded public transport - too hot in summer, freezing cold in winter.
  • You're your own boss - you won't get distracted by the other people around you or constant interruptions at your desk.
  • You don't have to put up with sandwiches for lunch everyday or unhealthy options or temptations in the staff canteen.
  • Because you can work flexibly - take the opportunity of breaks during the day to do the shopping, clean the house, walk the dog, pick up the children but don't use that as an excuse to put off work.

It can be isolating if all you see day in day out are the same four walls and have little interaction during the week.
  • Social media has helped to change some of the isolation - at least you can connect with other people during the day and even get some of those 'water cooler' moments.
  • You might miss out on the buzz (and distraction) of having other people around you, so make sure you don't become isolated at home.  Get out and about for meetings.  Meet up with friends for lunch or coffee a couple of times a week. 
  • Go for a change of scenery every now and then.  Often it's easier to focus and be productive in a different environment - coffee shops, libraries or hotels offer an alternate space in which to work or you could try hot-desking or co-working.
  • You can find yourself getting distracted by chores around the house rather than focusing on work.  If that's the case - take a break for a while before getting back to work.
  • It can be difficult to draw a line between work and home and there's a temptation to work much longer hours.  It's important to have a cut-off point.
Be realistic about working from home - if you have young children or a spouse who's around all day - don't expect to be able to stick to a strictly 9-5 working routine.  You may only have a few uninterrupted hours a day in which to run your business, so make sure that time counts.

It's not for everyone - what's your experience of working from home?

 (Photo credit: atconc)
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