According to the statistics from the American Community Survey (ACS) portion of the United States Census, there are many members of today’s workforce who stated that their primary mode of transportation to and from work was “work at home” on the survey. This indicates that a number of workers have home offices at least part-time, if not fulltime. They could be telecommuting or have a home-based business. The survey results are not clear as to what their occupations are, just that they held a position that allowed them to work from their home.
Between the changing economy and the developments in technology, many workers have found their offices and homes have become one and the same. However, people working from home are faced with specific pitfalls and challenges. From interruptions to lack of motivation, this is what you need to be wary of when you turn your home into an office.
1 – Interruptions
Within every office across the world, there are a number of interruptions that are a part of the normal business day. These can be as obvious as the ringing of the telephone or as subtle as a co-working walking past your desk saying “hello”. Anytime that your work flow in interrupted, it requires your brain to shift gears from the task at hand to address the situation.
Depending on what job you are doing at home, you may or may not be able to avoid the telephone. Interruptions can be minimized by setting specific times and days that you will be in the office and unable to deal with outside interruptions. It may require sitting down with your family and friends and letting them know your schedule. It is neither rude nor insensitive to ask that they respect your work schedule. In most cases, they would not just drop into your office if you were working in a business outside of your home.
Addressing the issue immediately will help to eliminate hard feelings on their part when you seem agitated upon interruption. Additionally, it will help you stem off resentment that can occur when your workday is interrupted for anything less than a house fire.
2 -Poor Planning
Without a good working schedule, you may find yourself behind in projects or unable to meet clients expectations. Of course, it depends upon what your job is as to how much planning needs to be put into accomplishing your goals.
An artist who wants to achieve a painting a month may need to plan to paint for a set amount of hours per day while a data entry operator may have a daily goal set for them by a client that they need to meet. Either way, poor planning may hinder the results, which can cause a loss of income or even a job.
Planners come in a variety of formats in order to meet the needs of a flexible workforce. Maybe you can get by with a monthly planner while someone else needs a daily planner with time blocks for appointments. Regardless of what your needs are, you need to sit down every day and map out your plans while keeping long-range goals in mind.
Someone who sells jewellery may need to make several hundred dollars a week to stay in business. They should know how much they have to create in order to generate that amount in sales. Planning will allow them to find the dollar amount and set a daily goal in order to meet the monthly income. This is true of any work that you do at home.
Work behaviour at home is different from work behaviour in an office that has a supervisor or manager. It is a little easier to stay on task when a manager is monitoring your lunch hour or your computer usage. A little discipline goes a long way towards success when you work at home. Just because there is no one standing over your shoulder during the day making sure that you get your tasks accomplished does not mean that you are free to spend your time playing video games or poking friends on Facebook. These types of distractions stop you from reaching your financial goals.
This is not to say that distractions should be avoided at all times. There are plenty of times during the workday that a distraction is a benefit that you should embrace. You were not made to sit for hours and hours a day doing mindless work. Your body was made to move, and when that movement is ignored, you can become physically and mentally unhealthy. Some distractions help you to refocus on your tasks with greater energy. Just remember to limit your distractions to small increments during the day.
As previously stated, your body was made to move. While most desk jobs keep people pinned to their desks immersed in their work, an office atmosphere encourages interaction and movement. They have break rooms and outside patios for rest and relaxation.
In fact, the United States Department of Labor suggests that 20 minutes or so a couple times a day are acceptable break times. While not federally mandated, this is the normal practice within the corporate industry in the United States. This downtime allows employees to regroup and has shown that they are more motivated when given paid breaks.
As a work-at-home employee, this break time is up to you. Unlike the bell for recess, you must come up with a schedule that you are comfortable with that meets your needs. Maybe you want to watch a 20-minute segment of the Weather Channel or walk around your yard for a few minutes to work the muscles in your body.
Regardless of your choice of activity, make sure that you take that time away from your desk. Additionally, you need to get up and move every 30-minutes or so to give your eyes and back a break.
5 -Lack of Motivation
Creatives are always thinking forward, backward and sideways. Their entire existence is built around problem-solving, so it is only natural that their thought process would cause their minds to wander. In addition, due to the emotional nature of creativity, they deal with self-doubt, creative interruptions from their own brains and loneliness. It is not unusual for a creative to close up shop early and seek interaction even if it is online. These thoughts and feelings can trigger a lack of motivation that can be difficult to overcome.
If you find yourself stuck in a motivational rut, then you may need to take a break from your activity and do something different for a few moments. You can read a magazine article about your trade, shop online for supplies or do anything related to your goals. These little interludes allow you to focus on something other than the problem before you and work towards helping your mind regroup.
Working at home can be very rewarding and economically beneficial, but it does come with its own set of problems and pitfalls. By avoiding these pitfalls, you may well be on your way towards a very successful and lucrative stay-at-home job.
Author Bio: Brett Helling is the head of Gigworker.com, an online resource that provides information and training for workers in the gig economy. When he’s not overseeing a team of writers and developers, he spends as much time as possible reading, travelling, or playing with his dog Baxter (insert Anchorman reference here).