Working from home is for many a dream come true. You save time and energy frequently spent commuting, you are able to keep an eye on the household, attend sports matches and you don’t even have to put on makeup to get the job done!
The interest in virtual and working from home is on the rise globally, with the benefits of remote working becoming more apparent. At least 68% of people globally work remotely at least once a month. In South Africa, freelancers in the creative industry have been working in home-based roles for years. Other jobs, like accounting, bookkeeping and digital marketing that can be performed from a home based office are steadily on the increase.
Working from home is a productive and effective way of working. It allows skilled moms to make a valuable contribution in the workplace. As with any type of work arrangements, there are challenges you need to be aware of before embarking on this as your first choice.
In this article, we will highlight some of these challenges and how to overcome them.
Most work from home jobs require you to have access to high-speed internet at home. Access to high speed, reliable internet is essential to stay connected to the employer. In South Africa, many households do not have internet at home. The 2017 Statistics South Africa report states that only 10,6% of homes have internet.
These numbers are increasing as the fibre network expands across South Africa. Fibre brings more reliable, faster and affordable internet.
For jobs like copywriting which do not require much data, a mobile network is a reasonable alternative. Simply set up your phone as a WiFi hotspot and connect with your computer.
There are always a million things fighting for your attention that can take your focus off work. An excellent way to manage this is not to wear too many hats at the same time. Split your home, social and community responsibilities from your work responsibilities so that you focus entirely on work when it is in “business” hours. It is essential to have a separate office space where you can close the door, focus and leave the ongoing house admin for emergencies only.
When you work from home, friends and family assume that you are always available. Manage their expectations of your availability. Schedule set office hours and inform your friends about these hours. This will help them to keep to your set schedule.
At home, no-one will be looking over your shoulder to stop you watching Youtube videos and scrolling your Facebook feed for hours. Internet distractions can steal most of your productive time if not managed. We love this online tool that can help you manage your time spent on distracting web pages.
Many people feed off each other people’s energy. When you succeed, the win means so much more if you can celebrate it with others that understand. When you have been maltreated, it does not seem as bad if you can share it with a colleague. Loneliness can be a real challenge for people working at home.
It is worse for some personality types than others. If you know you are an extrovert and like to be around people, working from home might not be the best option for you. It might be worthwhile to do a strengths test, like Gallup Strength finder, to get to know yourself better and see if you are someone that will be happy spending the day alone in the office.
If you are someone that needs people around you, consider working from a coffee shop or co-working space like Akro or Regus. Another option is to connect with people on a social level, like joining a gym class or a book club.
People who work from home tend to work more extended hours. This can infringe on the quality time available for yourself and your family. Work expands into the time you give it. You will never reach the point where all your work is done. Just as you set office hours to keep household distractions out of work time, work hours need to be placed to keep work within boundaries.
Respect your time and say no to working after your set office hours. Keeping a healthy balance will result in a happier and more productive you.
A shrinking world
A benefit of being able to work from home is being able to work in your pyjamas if you so choose. This is great for when you are feeling ill, but it is not a healthy practice to remain in the house all day every day. When you do dress up and look your best, it will have a positive effect on your self-confidence and outlook on life.
Working in an office not only requires you to look your best, but it also enables you to learn via osmosis. You learn a lot from colleagues conversing about their experiences, and you stay in touch with new technologies and with buzzwords in your industry. When working at home, you tend only to get exposed to what you are interested in and search on Google. It is more challenging to keep abreast of new information when you are alone while working with colleagues, increases your reach of research and you get exposed to more information.
A way to help counter this is to listen to the radio or tune into stimulating discussions of what is happening in the economy or politics. You can also connect with different groups or like-minded people on sites like Meetup.
It is a privilege to be able to work from home, and daily more companies are embracing the benefit of flexible work arrangements. It is entirely up to you to make a success of the opportunity. If you are testing work from home arrangements, make sure that you are prepared for the challenges and that it is beneficial to both you and the company.
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