Thinking about losing the dreary nine-to-five and becoming a work-at-home entrepreneur? It may be the best decision of your life…or not. Before you tell your boss to shove it, consider these three reasons not to work from home

Working from Home Can Be Lonely

Finally, the peace and quiet you always yearned for when you worked in that noisy office is yours! Without the constant chatter of colleagues, the secretary’s radio blaring and those pesky meetings interrupting your work flow, you’re free to be super-efficient and productive, right? Trouble is, without the background noise and familiar social interactions, working from home can turn out to be a lonely experience. Isolation can have extremely negative effects – the worst of society’s misfits aren’t thrown into solitary confinement for no reason. Studies have shown how a lack of human contact and sensory deprivation can lead to mental illness, changes in brain physiology, even death. Sounds bad, is working from home even an option, then? For strong, independent and disciplined workers, who enjoy working on tasks alone, the answer is a resounding yes! Here’s how to limit the loneliness:

  • While the bulk of your work can be completed in your home office, alone, schedule face-to-face meetings, or at least telephone or skype meetings, with clients as often as possible, rather than merely communicating via cold, impersonal email. It’s good for business, and it’s good for you.
  • Join internet forums and groups on social networks in your area of business, to exchange ideas and opinions with other professionals.
  • Take a coffee break once or twice a week; working off the wi-fi for an hour in a different environment can stimulate thought.
  • Join professional associations and attend their networking meetings.

Working from Home Can Be Distracting

Remember those annoying interruptions the corporate office threw your way? The bored receptionist popping into your office for a chat about nothing in particular…phone calls from irate company clients…having to buy a raffle ticket for the kid of the guy in sales…writing birthday messages in over-sized birthday cards from the department to another faceless employee…endless, inane distractions impinging on your productivity. Now that you work from home, there’s none of that…or is there? Hmmm…now, there’s the incessant barking of the neighbour’s dog; the gardener who keeps knocking on your door and your mom who pops by to talk about…nothing in particular. Is working from home even worth it? Indeed it is. As a self-employed individual working from home, you’re the boss and you can call the shots. No more grinning and bearing it for the sake of climbing the corporate ladder. Here’s how to set boundaries to limit distractions:

  • Enforce strict working hours – make sure that your family, friends and domestic employees know what they are, and understand that you’re unavailable during this time
  • Ensure that you have a dedicated, quiet workspace, preferably with a door to shut out domestic distractions
  • Close social phone calls during your office hours with a polite ‘I’ll call you back, later’.
  • Other than social networking to market your business, only use social networking sites after hours.
  • Turn off the television! Some quiet background music in your home office is perfectly acceptable, but having the daytime soapies on is the ultimate distraction.

Working from Home Can Have Negative Connotations

When people hear you’re working from home, they often (erroneously) jump to the conclusion that you’re just indulging a hobby or playing office-office. If you’re going to be taken seriously in the business world, then you need to be serious about your business. Here’s how:

  1. Get a dedicated phone line in your small home office
  2. Get a post office box for business postal correspondence
  3. Make sure you use a professional email address, not a free email account
  4. Ensure that your business is a registered legal entity, with registered trade names and trademarks
  5. Set up a website – if you can, pay a professional web designer and web copywriter to do this for you
  6. Organise business stationery and business cards
  7. If you receive clients in your small home office, make sure it’s geared up for visitors, with a comfortable visitors chair, and sealed off from the rest of the house.