The Pros and Cons of Working from Home… My Story!
The idea of working from home can sound blissful: no more time wasted sitting in traffic or standing in an overcrowded train, you can work around your family, no travel costs, more flexibility and, if you feel like it, you can work in your PJs and dressing gown so you don’t have to worry about suits, make-up or hair!
All of these were reasons why 19 years ago, whilst pregnant with my eldest son, I decided to set up a business that would allow me to work from home. But I must say, there are some points I hadn’t considered and I wanted to share these before you decide to “jump ship” and go it alone.
Although I had known I would often be working around my children, I hadn’t anticipated how exhausting this could be. For example, in order to take them to mother and toddler sessions, or to spend time together in the school holidays and go on school trips during term time, you will often need to work late at night and into the early hours to make up the time. And whilst it is lovely not having to request annual leave or phone work to explain you have a poorly child, you still have deadlines to meet so you do have to find the time from somewhere in the day (or night)!
I also thought working from home would remove the need for childcare, however, I soon discovered I couldn’t work effectively this way. Trying to work knowing any minute your sleeping baby may wake up for a feed, a change or a cuddle, can be a little stressful and I quickly realised I would still need to use childcare facilities, particularly if there was a deadline looming.
Speaking of deadlines, you have to be very disciplined and not let procrastination rule! I’ve discovered I can quite easily find a random task to carry out rather than work on an area of the business I don’t particularly enjoy: ironing vs. accounts, playing with the dog vs. sales calls…
And working alone can be a lonely job. I sometimes miss the office chatter (although not the politics) and as I sit here in my pyjamas writing, I think, “Thank God for social media.” I do have to be careful that 3 hours haven’t suddenly sped by, but it is nice to drop in to social media every now and then for a little break and “watercooler chats” before switching back to work mode. Along with Business Friend’s fantastic team members, who provide much needed email chat (along with a brilliant transcription service of course!), this does help prevent the isolation that working from home can lead to. Although nothing can reduce loneliness more than face-to-face communication, so try to make time for a weekly, or even monthly if weekly is too ambitious, lunch or coffee with friends. Or perhaps join a networking group for people in a similar situation to yourself.
And Mum Guilt (or Parent Guilt), still exists when working from home. There have been many times over the years I have had to ask the children to “leave me alone” while I’m working, and I’ve felt terrible after. But every now and then I would ask them if they would rather I had a “normal job” where my time at home is time purely for them rather than often saying, “Right, you’ve got leave me in peace for an hour while I finish this,” or frequently checking and responding to emails, and they have always replied, “I like things just the way they are.”
So for my little family at least, the pros of working from home do outweigh the cons!