Working at home has become very popular in the last few years. It has many benefits over regular way of working at the office: no commuting, you have more time to spend with your family and you get more done, because you don’t have the distractions of the open office.
However, there are also downsides of working at home. It is up to you to make a decision – whether you want the remote working to improve your work quality and career or turn it intoprocrastination and slacking off.
1. You don’t feel you are working
The first obvious danger is that you don’t feel like you are working at all. This is because you associate the environment where you work as being a part of your personal life, not work.
Working from home means that the boundaries between work and personal time are blurred. Nobody stops you from doing some household work during the workday, because you feel like being at home, not at work.
Would you wash the laundry or iron your pants if you were at the office? You probably wouldn’t.
How to fix:
Feel grateful that you have a chance to work at home and treat it as the same kind of work as going to the office.
However, if you think all the temptations at home are too irresistible, go back to work on a traditional office environment if it suits you better.
2. Your family members won’t understand that you are working
Your family can be one reason, why you are not getting your stuff done and why you get distracted.
For younger children, it may be hard to understand that you are working – not at home for play.
When it comes to adults, you spouse may want you to participate to household work. But as you know, you cannot do that – you are working.
How to fix:
Setting clear boundaries and communicating them with your family is the way to fix this issue. That way, everyone knows the rules and they won’t expect anything from you during your working hours.
3. You are slacking off, because your boss is not watching
You may be thinking, “Nobody is watching if I work or not. In fact, I can do whatever I want, because no one is peeking over my shoulder.”
Keep having this attitude and your days in the company are done. Although slacking off may work as a very short sighted strategy, your boss will eventually know, if you are not able to meet your deadlines.
He/she starts to question your work motivation and it is only a matter of time, when you get caught up.
How to fix:
In order to prevent this from happening, you have pretty much two options:
a) Get back to working at the office, if the environment is putting you enough pressure to work on your tasks
b) Quit your current job and find your motivation elsewhere (either in another position in the same company, changing workplace altogether or starting your own business)
If you are slacking off, you clearly don’t have the motivation to keep up with your work. Instead, you have to find some stimulating work instead. If it is not inside the company you work for, change jobs or start your own business.
4. You alienate yourself from work community
One of the biggest downsides of working at home is that it has a danger of alienating you from your colleagues and the work community. It’s like you are working in isolation from the rest of your colleagues.
How to fix:
The way I handle this situation is that I have certain days at the office while other days I work at home. This brings a great balance to my work routines, thus eliminating the isolation effect.
It also helps to be in real-time communication with your colleagues as much as possible (by using telephone, video conferencing or chats).
5. You work too much
Working from home is very convenient in many ways: You don’t have to commute, you can work in the comfort of your home and the distractions of an open office are not present.
But there is a darker side of this: It is too easy to get involved into your work stuff after the office hours, because you work is at your home. All you need is to turn on your laptop and connect to your company’s network and you are all set.
No one is stopping you from working longer hours or even checking your e-mails while you are in the bed – just before turning off the lights and getting some sleep.
You have to understand that you are doing that in the expense of your family (and the expense of your free time). In fact, you are most probably not going to get paid anything extra for doing the additional work, so why would you do that?
How to fix:
More than anything, you need to set clear boundaries – with yourself and with your family.
You have to set the time limits when you work at home and also let your family members know about this.
The easiest way to stop working is when the office time ends. However, if you absolutely need to check the e-mail later in the evening, have a short dedicated time block for doing that.
We are not meant to work all the time and the free-time (after the office hours) is there for a reason – it is for recharging our batteries, so that we can be more productive when we work.
Respect your free time, so you get more done at work – and you don’t necessarily have to work after office hours.
What has been your experience with working at home?
Photo by medigerati.
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I have been working from home now for about a year and a half, but i work for myself not an employer. My struggle is turning it off. I can easily work a 16 hour day without blinking. The only difference for me, and something i find better than going to an office… is that on my regularly scheduled breaks to move around to put the circulation back and give my eyes a break i do laundry. My office is by my laundry room, so i always have clean laundry and good circulation! lol my other obstacle is because of the fact that most people do go to an office job under an employer’s rules all of the social media connection have to happen after work hours, that’s what puts me on the clock until 11pm on most nights.. it’s all about balance i guess.
You have a very good way of taking breaks! Doing something physical during your breaks can take your mind off your work while your brain is processing the information on the background.
I guess what you mentioned is one of the issues when working at home. It is very easy to keep on working and working.
I think that in that situation you just have to set some limits to your work, so that you stop early enough. Maybe like setting yourself some daily goals and once you have reached those, you can stop working for the day.
I did work from home for the past 4 years and I really liked it. In fact, I liked the fact that I felt a real freedom of starting and stopping when I wanted. I was feeling autonomous even though I was working for somebody else.
Today I’m working in a “normal” company, from 7:30 to 4. I’ve lost my freedom but I’ve found some new friends, which is nice.
I think that there are both sides to this: if you work at home, it’s more about freedom. At the same time, when having a “regular work”, you can meet people (and it is not so lonely than working by yourself at home).
I’ve been working from home, both for myself and briefly as an employee, for over 20 years. I believe that home workers have never had it so good, due to the rise of coworking spaces in small towns as well as cities. Now we can get over many of the challenges of working from home by spending some time working alongside other people.
Yes, that is one of the ways to overcome these issues I mentioned on my post – co-working spaces.
That’s something I would love have in my town too 🙂
What an amazing article. I’m ashamed to say it but I run a home-based business and I struggle with all 5 dangers mentioned. I have a 1 yr old that requires a lot of attention and I find myself doing more cleaning, feeding, changing diapers and rocking to sleep than working. This then causes me to have to work after hours because none of my work got done during the day. Now my family time is compromised. I thought being able to have my child home with me was the best decision but it’s really not working well.
There must be a balance and I have to find it or I’ll get burnt out while working at home.
Thank you 🙂
I can understand your situation since I’m living it myself too 🙂 (and, I was smiling when I saw the post picture, since it almost describes my situation 🙂
My son is still quite young (7 weeks old), he requires a lot of his parent’s attention.
I think that having a co-working space (as what Judy mentioned) could be one possible solution to this scenario.
I know that this is an issue – working at home while your family is also at home. There is going to be a distraction of some sort in that case.
I work from home about half of my work week and I love it. I accomplish so much more in the time I’m at home than what I do when in the office. I do have the problem of constantly being attached to my computer/phone/device that will check e-mail though. It’s so close and so easy to take five minutes to take care of it at 9 at night instead of in the morning. I need to remember there’s always more e-mails to take care of in the morning, and it’s more efficient to do them all at once.
Working at home can radically improve your productivity – I have experienced this myself too.
But yes, if you can batch-check your e-mails at certain intervals the better.
Good article. I couldnt have worked from home when my children were under 3 – I tried it but they needed too much attention.
A good idea is to set yourself up a definite workspace/office if you can. Another friend of mine will start promptly after dropping the kids at school. She will come in and walk past dirty dishes etc if necessary and will not stop for her coffee until her scheduled coffee break time.
I work for myself but I find I need to constantly timetable myself and what I find and I know others find too is that certainly other women assume we are not working at all if we are working from home. But yes there are so many advantages to it now and also coffee shops with WiFi zones so you can take your laptop or ipad or whatever and go out and have a coffee and sit and do some work. I am just sorry our local Borders bookshop closed as it was a fabulous place to sit with a coffee and do a bit of work or catch up on some reading.
Yes … I’m thinking that I need to find some additional ways to work on my own projects too until my son is old enough.
It seems that having a separate work space is a must (and not necessarily at your home) when you have small children in the house.
This is an incredibly important ruling by the NJ Court system against AT&T. It’s so important that you can’t continue to remain sedentary in your life style. You must stand at least a few hours while working.
If you work from home stand up while working, take numerous quick brakes and stretch and walk.
Please read this article:
NJ: Court Affirms Death Benefits Award for Pulmonary Embolism Caused by Unusual Level of Inactivity
In Renner v. AT&T, 2011 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 1668 (lexis.com users) (free version) (June 27, 2011), a New Jersey intermediate appellate court addressed a number of important issues that arise from today’s prevalent use of home-based workers. The underlying facts and court decision serve as a cautionary tale for both employers and home-based employees alike.
Renner had been a salaried manager for AT&T for some 25 years at the time of her death. Although she had a “nine-to-five” job, she often worked at home all hours of the day and night to meet various AT&T deadlines. For example, on the evening before her death, Renner emailed a coworker at 12:26 a.m. When her son awakened at 7:00 a.m., Renner was at her desk in her home office. At 9:00 a.m., she called a coworker to say she was not feeling well, but would soon complete the project. She finished it at home, sent an email to a coworker at 10:30 a.m., and an hour later called 9-1-1 because she couldn’t breathe. She was pronounced dead when she arrived at the hospital, having succumbed to a pulmonary embolism.
A workers’ compensation judge awarded death benefits to Renner’s surviving spouse in the face of New Jersey’s enhanced causation standard governing cardiovascular injury or death [N.J.S.A. 34:15-7.2]. That standard, like similar provisions in other state Acts, generally requires the claimant to show that such an injury or death was produced by work effort or strain involving an event or happening “in excess of the wear and tear of the claimant’s daily living.”
The appellate court agreed with the compensation judge; Renner’s work inactivity was greater than her non-work inactivity and her work inactivity caused her embolism in a material way. The court noted the conflict in medical evidence—the husband’s medical expert concluded that Renner’s effort of sitting at her home office desk for long periods of time contributed to a material degree in causing her death while the employer’s expert opined that her embolism was more likely caused by a combination of Renner’s risk factors (obesity, lack of exercise, use of birth control pills)—and observed further that the employee led a sedentary life in and out of work. Still, credible evidence supported the judge’s finding that Renner’s work inactivity was greater than her non-work-inactivity.
The preceding story was originally posted on the Worker’s Compensation Law Blog at http://www.Lexisnexis.com
This is a very cool sit stand desk. It’s pretty much one size fits all. The base telescopes in and out from 41” to 76” wide. This is ideal if you ever decide or move into a new environment that’s either larger or smaller. You won’t have to buy a new base. This desk also has a 24 to 50” height range.
PDF File of the TRU Inverness Desk: http://www.tru-office.com/DOWNLOADS/tru-inverness-sitstand-workstation.pdf
The headline of this article grabbed my attention, after 22 years in the same field and working in an office environment with only two different employers during this time frame I’m getting ready to leave my job to start running my own home based business full-time. I started my business over a decade ago and its come to a point that I can no longer work at my job 10 hours out of the day and come home and work another 6 hours on my business. Its starting to affect my business, family and health in a negative manner, its time to choose one or the other, so I’ve chosen to leave my job and run my business, of course, this was the plan all along when I started my business more than a decade ago, right? Its all been planned out very carefully over the years, I even built an addition onto my home which included my own separate private office, the office has everything that anyone would want, the latest technology, etc, I spared no expense, it puts my office at work to shame. The wife and kid are ecstatic that they’ll actually see me as I usually don’t get home until 8 and 9 pm most work days and then I go to work at home. My commute to work and back is an hour each way and gas (at todays price) is running $80 for a five day work week, tolls run another $20 per week (tolls are getting ready to go up). A conservative figure just for me to go back and forth to work cost $400.00 a month, plus 40 hours of driving (10 hours per week). Yep, sure will feel nice to roll out of bed, slide open the door to my private office, take exactly 10 steps and be sitting at my desk in my state of the art 10 x 12 office, or, will it?
Uh oh, I’m afraid of all those things mentioned in the article, I was actually thinking about these things for the last year before I ran I across the article, now, its coming close to…dum dee dum dum…to “The Time!” You see, I don’t just work in an office, I’m the operations manager of a one million square foot, multi million dollar complex, its not like I’m leaving a run of the mill office job here. On one hand I’m happy to be leaving, it will be like a weight coming off of my shoulders when my wheels leave the parking lot for the last time, on the other hand I’m terrified about those things in the article and not having enough action going on in my day to keep me stimulated enough, yes, quite the quandary indeed! I’ve waited 10 long years to get to this point and now I’m terrified of making the jump! What gives? Do I need to see a shrink or something I tell myself…LOL. Most people would give their right arm to have a successful home based business, they’d jump at the chance to have what I have, I’ve worked hard to get where I’m at, and, now I’m terrified.
Well, I have one week left to decide one way or the other, I told the wife, that I would put my two week notice in a week from this coming Monday, of course, if I don’t, the wife will probably never talk to me again, the kid will scoff at me, the dog would turn her back on me and my business that I spent a decade building will start to fail, so, I know the answer. I, like many, have been trained to work the way I’ve been working my entire life, well, at least I’ll have the pool to exercise in during lunch hour…LOL
Timo, great post! I enjoyed reading this one, and when I pulled up to see who wrote it (it was slacking in my Instapaper) I was doubly excited to see your name.
I just started working in an office and I follow this to the fullest extent. I enjoy my home time to the maximum! It’s important to recharge your batteries, especially considering unnatural 8+ hours in an office!
Making leisure time mandatory is becoming main characteristic of increasing the quality of our life.
Now regarding the competitin at work, I never allow myself to be concerned with deadlines, if I can’t meet the deadline within my working hours, I can’t and I am not stressing about it.
Deadlines are usually put there to speed things up on your expense. Often people can’t meet them even when they don’t waste a second. So why bother with stressful details?
If ot’s gonna coat you your job, than so be it. No worse thing than stressing about someone elses fortune, right? Important thing is to ensure your financial independence and work daily on it. That’s why we have internet!
Thanks for a wonderful read! See you for that podcast!
Sorry for the typos
Hi, Timo. I appreciate this post very much because I work from home too. I left my regular job of 5 years to work from home because I wanted more time with my kids. I have to admit, the first months were really tough and I even came to a point thinking that I made the wrong decision. But every learning curve is tough and I’m glad I have adjusted quite well already.