Updated: Jun 5, 2019
I started my journey of working from home nearly three decades ago. In the beginning, I focused heavily on the many benefits of working from the comfort of my own home. I was relieved that my new work situation did not require me to travel back and forth from my house to an office daily.
As a home worker, I was able to choose how much I worked during the day, which may have turned me into a workaholic. Thirty years ago, working remotely was new and unheard of. I wanted to prove myself to the “invisible boss” that sat next to me and myself. I pushed myself to be 150 % productive, and very soon I was working up to 10 to 15 hours each day including weekends.
My workaholic lifestyle started to affect my personal life. I thought that being at home and working from there meant that my family was close and happy. However, this was not the case, working long hours and on the weekends meant that I never had enough time to spend with them. It was time to make adjustments!
I understand that many home workers have to deal with the strain on a family. You have to stick to a hectic schedule and deal with immediate family members who do not understand the concept of working from home. At home, you may have your kids playing around, dogs barking, house chores and many other distractions that can affect your ability to focus on work and your productivity.
As a life coach with extensive remote work experience, I can assure you that I have faced most of the challenges associated with working from home. From procrastination to isolation and constant distractions, I am happy to tell you that over many years I was successful at overcoming these challenges and was able to increase my productivity even though these challenges weighed me down at one point or another.
Here are the top seven challenges that home workers face and my advice for overcoming them:
1. Work And Personal Life Separation
When you work from home, keeping work and home life separate can be extremely difficult.
Office space in your home does not have to be a dedicated room, although a room with a door you can close while you work is an excellent way of shutting out the distraction. Use your office space only for working. It can be tough to stop personal and home life activities from spilling into your work.
My advice would be that you try to create dedicated office space in your home. Ideally, it should be in a room with a door that you can close while you work. After deciding to work from home full-time, I realised that I needed to set up a home office where I could work without distractions.
Procrastination is a widespread problem that affects even the best of us. Procrastination prevents us from focusing on work, and we end up wasting valuable time instead. Many people I know believe that their habit of procrastinating has prevented them from going after their life goals and dreams.
My suggestion would be that acknowledge your habit and break down your work into smaller pieces and create a to-do list that you abide by. This will help you stay focused and productive.
See my blog on procrastination as one of the challenges of working from home.
Distractions at home are a constant struggle. Figure out which distraction affects you the most while you work and try to minimise it or eliminate it before you start work. If working in an untidy room distracts you, clean up first so you can focus on work.
A dear friend of mine agrees that house chores like washing, cleaning, hoovering, painting, take over and prevent her from working. It is best to deal with such distractions first.
4. Lack Of Structure
Offices have professionalism and structure, which working from home can seriously lack. You won’t have a set schedule to keep you on track on a day to day basis. You are more susceptible to get involved in other work or wasting time on your phone.
If you keep your phone close by when you are working, the chances are that it will be your most significant source of distraction. A simple solution is to put your phone away, so you don’t end up mindlessly scrolling through your social media apps on your phone. Also, develop a schedule and stick to it.
5. Lack Of Social Interactions
Some home workers, like me, can work many hours a day at a time, while others have a difficult time staying glued to their desk for too long. Working for too many hours can be exhausting and can cause you to burn out. When you work in an office, you get the chance to meet colleagues and have social interactions, which working from home does not offer.
6. Difficulties Turning Off Work
When your home is also your office, it can be hard to turn off work. I faced this challenge at the beginning which made me realise that it’s easier to work at least 15 hours a day and on the weekends. This can lead to burnouts. People who are burnt out are more likely to be distracted, so try to take breaks and socialise. These activities are essential for creating balance. Glued to the computer screen for 12 hours a day with no breaks will eventually cause damage, one of my fellow homeworker and internet friend said, and I agree homeworkers need to strike a balance.
7. Focusing On Health And Fitness
When you are in your home, working long hours, it is highly likely that you will get minimal exercise and fresh air, which can have a disastrous effect on your health and fitness in the long run.
Remember that health should always come first. Try to include physical exercise in your routine; joining a fitness class or gym is a great way to stay fit and socialise.
Working from home is not for everyone. I have known many people who have given up on the idea of working remotely due to its challenges. However, as a successful homeworker myself, I can assure you that it is possible to work from home and overcome its challenges.