If you’ve never worked at home, you probably have a vision of how luxurious it must be – you can start the day by straightening up the house, then go out and get a coffee, or plug away on a project from your cushy and comfy bed. It sounds fantastic, right? But anyone who has ever worked at home will paint a dramatically different picture, a world in which the work is ever-present and there’s no way to escape the office for a relaxing evening because the office is your home. While working from home definitely has some notable advantages, it’s important for everyone to understand that working at home is still work, and that there are some very serious challenges that go along with working from home, the most important ones of which are listed below.
Working at Home Means You Never Leave the Office
One of the most wonderful things about working at home is the lack of commute, which saves countless hours each month and can lead to a tremendously high level of productivity. The downside, however, is that you’re always at the office. People who are serious about their work or who have a lot of pressure and responsibility will always feel like there is more work to be done, and that the office is always open. People who have trouble setting boundaries between their work and personal lives will have specific trouble with this concept, and, if they’re anything like me, will find themselves working until the wee hours of the morning, while neglecting other aspects of their lives.
You Still Need Childcare
It sounds amazing to work at home because you can save a bundle in childcare expenses while still earning a decent salary. And I was able to return to work when one of my children was only 2 weeks old because I didn’t have to take her to an office. I quickly realized, however, that there’s a reason childcare was invented – because it’s nearly impossible to focus on producing quality work with a baby that cries and needs to be fed. And by the time the child is a few months old, they also need more attention and TLC, things that are pretty hard to provide when you’re tied to your computer or telephone. Simply put, it’s virtually impossible to work productively with a baby that is older than a newborn.
Housework does not Equal Paid Work
Many people mistakenly assume that if you work at home your house will always be in tip-top shape and that there will always be a healthy meal on the table. After all, you can take care of those chores while you’re home during the day, right?! In reality, however, people who are devoted to their jobs or have made certain time commitments often find it impossible to balance their paid work with the housework that just seems to build up without end. And those who don’t enjoy housework would rather focus on their jobs than their chores, which means that many people who work at home find themselves sitting amongst dirty dishes instead of a sparkling office.
Solitude is not Always Welcome
Every office has some distractions, whether it’s a chatty coworker or the lure of the water cooler. And while working at home helps avoid these interruptions, it can also be pretty lonely. Worse, you lose the ability to collaborate with others when you’re sitting alone in your home office or at the dining room table. The creative process often requires teamwork, and solitude surely doesn’t contribute to this need. Therefore, people who work at home often have to work doubly hard to be inventive and to contribute significantly to a given project.
Whether you’re considering taking a work at home job or just have preconceived notions about friends who have chosen this type of employment opportunity, it’s a good idea to take a moment to truly understand the actualities of working at home. After all, you never know when you may find yourself parked at your home office desk on a regular basis, and it’s always good to have realistic expectations.
Sari Holtz is a freelance writer who contributes regularly to PearlClasp.com, a website that offers quality bridal pearl jewelry, pearl restringing and fashion advice. She spent over 5 years working at home.