If there is one thing that every person who is making the transition to work from home should learn at the earliest time possible, it is the fact that change is inevitable. For some of us, dealing with this change is easy. For others, though, it takes a lot of attitude adjustment and a lot of jumping over hurdles. But if you really want to strike out on your own and work from within the comfort of your own home, there is no obstacle in this world that can stop you from doing exactly what it is that you intend to do.
Still, it would help a lot if you knew what changes you can expect as you make this transition from being a regular, white-collar office worker to a stay-at-home entrepreneur. From my own past experience and from the experience of those I know who have been working from home for years now, here are four things which I believe everyone who is thinking of making the jump from being an employee to being a freelancer or work-from-home entrepreneur should know before they start.
#1: Weight Gain Is Inevitable If You Don’t Watch Out
In some ways, working in an office can keep you from getting too fat. Even if you sit for hours on end at your desk and even if you munch on greasy takeaway food and on snacks from the office lounge’s vending machine, you still get to do things that get your body moving. Things like walking to your boss’ corner office to make your reports, visiting your co-workers’ workstations, walking to the car park where you left your car or running to the train station to and from work keep your body from being totally sedentary.
This can change when you start working from home. At home, it is far too easy to forget that you’ve been sitting in front of your computer for 12 hours straight, with only short trips to the bathroom or to the kitchen to address bodily needs. Heck, you can lay in bed all day with your laptop and no one is going to stop you from doing it. Worse, you can develop this habit of eating whenever you want to because you are no longer limited by such things as timed lunch breaks or coffee breaks. If you don’t watch out, you can easily gain 20 to 30 pounds at the least on your first year as a self-employed professional working from home.
#2: IM Clients Are Poor Substitutes for Face-to-Face Interaction
As an office worker, you have every opportunity in the world to have a social life. You can go out for lunch with a co-worker or grab a beer with them after the day’s shift is done. Interacting with clients also lets you meet people with whom you can socialize after office hours or on weekends. You’ll also have Fridays and weekends to hang out with friends.
When you start working from home, though, the words “social life” may be one of the things you will begin to miss if you don’t schedule your time properly. You’re mostly at home and you may get so overwhelmed by your new line of work that your calendar lists mostly deadlines now, even during weekends. Sure, you can keep in touch with friends through Facebook or Twitter, and you can exchange emails and instant messages with them. Still, talking to friends through IM clients is a very poor substitute for face-to-face interaction. Not only will this lead to alienation, but it will also drive you nuts.
#3: Getting in the Mood to Work Can Be a Challenge when Working from Home
At the office, you have no choice but to work whether you want to or not. Not only are the opportunities for goofing off or playing hooky more limited, but you also run the risk of getting caught by the boss or by the office tattler if you do something else other than your assigned tasks at your workstation.
It’s a different scenario when you work from home. Your home can be full of distractions and you are definitely on your own. You will find that there’s always a chore that needs to be done, a ringing phone that must be answered, or a knock on the front door that can’t be ignored. There’s also the danger of procrastination. You can always say that you’ll get your work done after you’re done watching TV or messing with your Facebook games or leveling your character in whatever MMORPG you have subscribed to. If you don’t control yourself and learn to balance your time, you will never get anything done.
#4: It’s Hard to Convince Family that Just Because You’re at Home, It Doesn’t Mean You’re Not Working
When you work for someone else in an office, the mere fact that you have to commute to and from work every single day forces you to keep your work life and your home life separate. At the office, you have no choice but to focus on your work. Whatever chores or errands waiting for you at home, you can leave them for later until you get home.
The lines between home life and work life get thoroughly blurred once you start working from home, especially when you live with family. Your spouse or your kids can clamor for your attention all the time, and it’s hard to ignore chores or errands that need to be done. Unless you make these people living with you understand that you only relocated your workplace and you have working hours too, the idea of working from home can only become very frustrating for you.
Working from home is great for those who are inclined to do it!
It definitely gives you the freedom to work however way you want to. However, if you intend to shift the course of your career towards this path, you should do so without any illusions. Working from home is not any easier than working in an office. There are certainly challenges that you need to overcome, and perhaps these challenges are more than what you may expect.