Home working – discipline and opportunity

Home working; it’s great for headlines

I have just read an article in The Times about how working at home fosters bad habits. It’s a headline, for sure

No pyjama party: working at home fosters bad habits

and prompts debate, but is it true? In the main I would say it isn’t.

Home working can promote creativity, independence and focus

For five years I worked from home developing a brand new business. Home working enabled me to be independent and pursue an idea from start to finish. I retreated, saved money, saved time travelling and worked crazily long hours to get my business off the ground. If overworking is a bad habit, and we know it is, then home working will promote it for sure. But if you are looking to be independent, creative and focused then home working is a real option. It will allow you to make progress.

Is office work all it’s cracked up to be?

Having gone back into corporate office life as a consultant I am amazed at how much time is ‘wasted’. When I am at home I sit down in the morning, usually at around 6.45. By 9am I have probably done more than most people achieve all day. That sounds boastful. I don’t mean it like that. I focus entirely on what has to be done. I don’t have to get up, shower, travel, chat to colleagues and so on before I begin work. I can start and get the most important tasks out of the way. This happens when there are few distractions. After a great start it’s time for a shower and breakfast; it’s much more civilised.

Professionalism matters wherever you are

Anyone experienced in home working knows that this mode of working actually requires great discipline. Initially I thought maybe a onesie designed to have a faux blouse and pearls within it would be a laugh. It would make video conferencing fun. Working in pyjamas seemed like a great idea. But I soon understood that maintaining real professionalism was good for my business. It was also great for my mental health. I dress for work even when I am home working. Looking professional changes my attitude, even down to how I sit on my chair.

Presenteeism never equated to increased productivity

I also keep careful notes and have work books stretching back to 2009. I plan what I need to do the night before so I can start immediately. If I feel slack I start timing how long things take me. That small change really ups productivity. I am acutely aware of where time is wasted. [bctt tweet=”Managing your day is empowering.” username=”@supposeiam”] Presenteeism never equated to increased productivity. Home working allowed me to juggle my work and my domestic life very effectively.

What are the downsides of home working?

The only significant down side is finding ways to take exercise during the day. It is quite possible to do a 10 hour day and hardly move. Some solve this by walking ‘to and from home work’. They pick a route from the front door and trek back home clockwise in the morning and anticlockwise at night. Putting a coat on and off at the start and the end of the day can demarcate the time. The office space is transformed into home space once more. If you have the luxury of a separate room then leave the computer Shut the door at the end of the day. This is important for your sanity. So think carefully about your home office space design.

Feeling isolated and lonely can be a significant problem. If you are home working then you need to have conversations. Join a local business networking group, ensure you talk to clients rather than simply email them.

Workaholism is a definite potential downside

You are working for yourself and that is a huge motivator. It’s difficult to switch off. There’s no reason not to keep returning to the computer or sending another email. Setting parameters is really important. You will achieve more working from home in the main. [bctt tweet=”Each hour spent working at home is likely to be more productive than working in an office.” username=”@supposeiam”]

Initially I panicked about how much work I needed to do.

Home working made me extreme in my outlook. I became known as a freelancer that would turn around accurate and creative work in super fast time. It’s not sustainable to put in 12 hour days in the long term. Self induced pressure is a major downside of working from home.

However, if you have the mental fortitude and self disciplined approach then home working is a marvellous opportunity. It develops your skills and hones a business. However, my business now has an office and staff. As I look around I always think of the question someone once asked me: what would you do if you couldn’t fail?

I say, just do that thing anyway! Start from home and see what happens. It could be the start of a very exciting journey.

Vivienne Neale is a Marketing Consultant working on companies’ inbound and outbound marketing strategies. She still writes but also comments and lectures regularly on developing business social media competency. Contact Vivienne on Twitter

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