Top 5 Home Office Problems
The disadvantages of a home office are tied to the main advantage — you don’t have to commute into an office every day. But while it sounds great to avoid rush hour, consider the downsides.
1. Becoming isolated. Loneliness is the number one home office problem. If you’re working from home full-time, you can become desperate for human contact! Some people feel this more than others.
Solutions: If isolation is a problem for you, go to a coffee shop or a library. Or organise a weekly breakfast club of other people who work from home. Discuss common issues and goals. You will meet up with other people, and perhaps find solutions to customer problems you had not thought of.
2. Becoming the fallback care provider. When you work from home, people sometimes forget the “work” part. You run the risk of neighbours, teachers and even your spouse taking for granted that you will be in the home during work hours. While it may be simple to let a repairman in the house now and then, you don’t want to be called on for multiple errands and child care when you’re supposed to be doing your job.
Solutions: Set rules – for yourself as well as others. Make sure you are professional and serious about your work, even though it is at home. If you see yourself as professional, so will others. You will need to discuss with the other members of your household that even though you are at home all day, you cannot drop everything for them. They need to understand from you what it takes to run a home business. Ask for their support.
3. Feeling work-family conflict. One of the biggest home office problems arises if you have young children at home. It can be hard for them to understand that you’re physically present but unable to care for them. Older children and even spouses may fail to respect your work time or space and interrupt for just a “quick question.”
Solutions: set “office hours” and stick to them, just as if you were working in an office or store or factory. Play your part by stopping working at the end of your allotted time, and participate fully in family life. You have to find a way to separate work from family, if they are both going to work. Even if it means duct tape or making yourself some walls.
4. Not getting work done. You might find yourself distracted by a friend who pops in to chat, or by housework or home repairs which need to be done. This is one of the home office problems that nearly all home workers feel.
Solutions: Again, set rules. For yourself. During your working hours, you have to work. If you sometimes find you simply cannot work from home, find a library or coffee shop (with wi-fi if you need it) and work there. Have a task list of things you must achieve that day. Know you have limited time, and no one to remind you to get stuff done, except yourself. Focus!
If you are an employee, and tele-commuting, you have some additional problems:
5. Missing out on shop talk. You’re so much more productive when you telecommute because you don’t waste time chit-chatting with co-workers. But chatting serves an important purpose – building relationships and allowing for casual brainstorming and information sharing.
Solutions: Call colleagues regularly and stop by the office to keep your network strong. Identify the important meetings and events to attend in person. You need to avoid being blindsided by layoffs, being unaware of a new corporate strategy or missing an opportunity to participate in high-profile projects.
I have worked from home during several stages of my life. It’s great! I don’t have a problem with the isolation, but I have battled with conflicting demands, people seeing the “home” but not the “work” part, and often working very long hours. But it is wonderful not to face the daily commute to the office!
Next: what are the health and safety issues involved with a home office.
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