I work from home and frequently people express envy when they find this out. Mostly these are persons who have never worked from home and have a idyllic but unrealistic view of the whole enterprise.
Working from home has a sunny side and a dark side. It’s not all about luxuriating in pyjamas until midday. Actually, I never work in pyjamas!
Here’s one point of view of the pros and cons of working as a freelance consultant from home.
I enjoy not needing to power-dress. I can wear what I like… but not usually pyjamas since I’m still engaging in other daily activities that require normal clothes!
I can choose my hours, most of the time. So if I feel tired, I can take a nap or a walk. The flexibility allows me to meet a friend for lunch or attend a dental appointment easily.
But incoming jobs are unpredictable and often involve panicked clients on tight deadlines – in which case I might suddenly need to work all weekend.
There are no perks like free printing or photocopying, conferences, or equipment that comes with the job. Over the years I’ve had to fund my own computers, printers, reference books, workshops, and ergonomic chairs and desks.
The upside is being able to take a holiday when it suits. The downside is there is no paid leave (so I might need to take on a commission during my holiday).
5. Social isolation
Working from home is lonely (apparently as bad for your health as cigarettes). I must build social contact into my day or cabin-fever sets in.
Autonomy is a major factor ensuring job satisfaction. I get plenty of this since I run my own business. But the challenges are self-discipline, self-motivation and self-direction – there are no bosses or colleagues to spur me on, help me out or tell me what to do.
7. The work/home divide
Since there’s no physical divide created by having a separate workplace, I must create my own separation between work and home. This I do by ensuring my work doesn’t overflow into evening or weekend hours where possible, and by keeping my work ‘stuff’ in a particular room.
Once again, self-discipline is crucial, and the ability to compartmentalise so that work doesn’t intrude into my home life and relationships.
The ideal day working from home
The things I love best about working from home are being in a beautiful space surrounded by my personal things, with a garden and my guinea pigs just outside, and absolute peace and quiet.
On a perfect sunny summer day I’ll have the back door open so that fresh air and sun can stream in. I sit at the kitchen table with my laptop, my feet bare and a view out of the windows onto flowers and trees. There’s always a bowl of flowers on the table next to me.
When I need a break from typing I wander outside to water the plants. Bluebell’s windchimes tinkle and the guinea pigs squeak at me in excitement. I pick them grass. The sun warms my skin and hair.
Mid-morning, if my brain feels fried, I’ll visit the neighbours for a quick cuppa and that dose of social contact. It always lifts my mood.
Later, I eat lunch on the sunny deck while the guinea pigs have their exercise.
One of the nicest moments of the day is at the end of the afternoon when my partner Pete comes home. The rattle of the letterbox, the key in the door, and the cheerful greeting. It’s so good to have company after a day working at home! I snap the laptop shut and put it out of sight.