Whether you telecommute or work remotely from home, you probably think you’ll be able to accomplish everything around the house that you were not able to do working 9 to 5 in the office. Is it the perfect work-life balance you’ve been dreaming of? Probably not. Remember, you are still working and sometimes working from home can be even more challenging than working outside of the home. Here are some explanations of what to really expect.
Myth # 1: You Won’t Need Childcare
This is the biggest myth that work-at-home moms believe. Would you bring your child to the office with you and expect to get any work done? Nope. But, perhaps the point of working from home was so that you can spend more time with family, and less money on childcare. There are ways to have the best of both worlds:
- Before you let your full-time babysitter go, be sure to have some sort of childcare plan in place so that you can have the time and energy to focus on work -- and only work.Set a regular work schedule -- one that coincides with your childcare -- so your clients know when they can rely on you each and every day.
- Find a work location for your office where you can shut out all outside distractions when necessary -- the kitchen table may not work.
- Ask family and friends to help you with childcare (for free -- swap services) so that you are not strapped for cash, but have the quiet time to get your work done.
Myth #2: Your House Will Be Clean All the Time
Ha! You’ll find that the hours go by more quickly when you work from home. The list of all the projects you think you’ll get done because you work from home will still be there, and the dishes will still be in the sink from breakfast when you start cooking dinner. You have to remember, you are working. Whether it’s 4 hours a day or 9 hours a day, the work has to get done during the day and the housework has to wait. You will not have the time (or energy) to clean your house every day like you think you will.
Myth #3: You Can Work Whenever You Want, Wherever You Want
Yes, working at home means flexibility, but most likely you will need to keep some sort of regular schedule so that clients can contact you during business hours. If you are strictly a freelancer, you may be able to work early mornings or late nights, but colleagues, bosses and clients will need to be able to get in touch with you during their working hours. Consistent hours will help you stay focused and productive as well.
Myth # 4: Working from Home Will Be Easy
Yes, telecommuting makes life easier. You save time and expenses. But sometimes the day gets started later than normal (after you get your kids to school) and ends earlier (as soon as they get home from school) so you actually have less time to get work done.
And working from home takes a lot of discipline. There is no boss or IT department checking your online activity (Facebook, online shopping) so you have to be sure not to spend the first few hours of each day online. You’ve got to be focused, organized, and motivated in order to be successful while working from home.
Myth # 5: Working at Home All Day - ALONE - is Awesome
At first, being alone in a quiet house without constant interruptions of the phone or water cooler chit chat is great. But after a while, you’ll start to go crazy and need some adult conversation.
Maintain connections with other colleagues or networking groups by having face-to-face conversations about business or even just meaningless dialogue. Working from home also gives you the flexibility to perhaps consider some volunteer work, which gives you the opportunity to socialize (and maybe complain about work) so that you don’t feel isolated.
Myth #6: You Can Never Go Back to Working In an Office
Many people think once you stop working a 9 to 5 job in an office you can never go back. Many people choose not to go back, but it doesn’t mean you can’t.
The truth is, if you have started your own business you may be in more demand than before. And if working remotely doesn’t work out, I’m sure the boss would love to have you back for that daily eight hour face-to-face job.
Myth #7: If You're at Home, You Must Not Be Working
Make sure family and friends know that you are working at home, and not just hanging out. Don’t answer personal calls, emails or chats during working hours. Make sure they all know when and how they can contact you.
Setting up regular business hours will help, and so will having a business line separate from your personal phone line. Time is money; be sure to say no to volunteering or helping friends in need. Your work comes first so make sure they know it.
Myth #8: The Hours Are Easy
Working from home is actually harder than going into the office for most. When you are working in an office, most of the work usually stays in the office when you go home, but that’s not the case when you work from home -- it’s always there. Many people have a hard time stepping away from the emails, phones and computers when work is just in the next room.
In addition to the everyday work, you also have to manage your own sales, do your own marketing and bookkeeping – the work never ends. Being organized enough to accomplish all tasks yourself takes a lot of time, hence why the dishes and laundry may not get done!
For me as a work-at-home mom, it’s the best of both worlds. I get to work from home, set my own hours, and still volunteer at my kids’ school when I’m able. My husband is able to focus on his job 100% without having to worry about the “home life” emergencies such as sick kids, repairmen, etc. I’m always here to do it and can sit at my computer and work while I do.