6 Challenges of Working from Home

One of the luxuries of being a small, home-based business is being able to work from home. You make your own hours, your commute is miniscule (down the hall!), and you don’t have to worry about co-workers stealing your lunch out of the communal fridge.

As many blessings as there are to working from home, it can also pose some challenges — challenges both Jeff and I have experienced. We had a good laugh recently over this BuzzFeed post about things people who work from home can relate to. But jokes aside, there are some very real challenges! Here are some of the most common ones we face:

IMG_20140528_104932210_HDR1. Getting Dressed at a Reasonable Time (or at all)

When I first started working with my dad, I teased him about waiting until 10am to shower and get dressed. Then I started working from home 2-3 days a week. And my husband would be walking in the door at 4:30pm, having gotten home from work, and I’d still be in my PJs.

It is HARD to discipline yourself to stick to a routine when working from home. In an ideal world, this is what my work-from-home days would look like:

  • Wake up
  • Get coffee & breakfast
  • Check emails while drinking coffee & eating breakfast
  • Shower, get dressed, fix hair
  • Work, work, work
  • Lunch
  • More work
  • Shut down computer; enjoy the evening at home with my husband

Usually, however, I never move past the “check emails while drinking coffee” stage — and instead just plow forward with work, until I wonder why I’m hungry and realize it’s almost 1pm. It’s a work in progress.

boating2. “Oh, that must be SO nice you can take off early …”

One of the luxuries of working from home is being able to make your own hours — and having the flexibility to use daytime hours for leisure. This could be something like hitting up a matinee at the movie theater, or going out on the boat during the warm summer months. When people see this, they tend to make comments along the lines of, “Well, must be nice!”

Yes, it is nice. But just because we’re playing hooky during the day doesn’t mean we’re not working. In fact, those daytime leisure hours usually mean working extra time in the evenings or on weekends to make up for it. In fact, being self-employed often means we work longer hours in general. So yeah, it must be nice … but believe me, we work HARD to earn those occasional mid-day excursions.

3. Laundry vs. Clients

Another perk of working from home is being able to squeeze in household chores during the day. Throw in a load of laundry here, run a vacuum there, etc. But it is a balancing act. It’s important to remember that my clients and work are the priority, and that I should only be stepping away for small allotments of time.

I love being able to get household chores done during the day, when I still have lots of energy — but I have to discipline myself to make sure I only do these household chores in short intervals, and not get sucked into a whirlwind house-cleaning marathon. Luckily, since household chores aren’t exactly the most thrilling activity, this balance is much easier to maintain!

4. Work Time vs. Personal Time

This is an added challenge of not only working from home – but being in a family business! Jeff and I have to discipline ourselves to keep work out of our personal time, and vice versa. The flexibility of working from home DOES allow us to squeeze in personal things during the work day, be it little things like those household chores, or making plans for dinner that weekend. Usually though, the bigger distractions come from our spouses — and making the distinction between work hours at home, and non-work hours. My husband has learned to leave me alone when he gets home from work, since I usually have 1-2 more hours of working to get done … but it doesn’t always happen. And I know this is a struggle my parents still have, so I know this will be something my husband and I work on for as long as I work from home.

100There’s also the added challenge of not letting work creep into our personal time – and though it occasionally happens, we’ve been very careful to avoid this as much as possible!

Bonus Dilemma:

Working from home can add another challenge when you also work with family and are planning a wedding. I am relieved that my wedding is now behind us — as there were plenty of days during my engagement, when work took a backseat to dress fittings, centerpiece debates, or trips to the florist. Thankfully, this was only a short-term challenge, and is one I am no longer faced with.

5. No Sick Days

There’s no more calling into work sick when you work from home in a small, family business like ours. For me, when I’m sick, it usually means I keep my laptop in bed next to me and then disinfect it after I’m well again!

Now, this doesn’t mean we neglect our health — we DO take it easy and get as much rest as possible. But in between taking cold medicine and napping and generally resting to get better soon, we’ve been known to check emails and respond to clients’ needs. Because if Jeff or I don’t do it … no one else will.

6. Vacation … Sort Of

Similarly, this means we never quite check out on vacation, either. (Well, I checked out completely for my honeymoon – but only after giving my clients’ two months of advance notice, and leaving copious amounts of notes for my dad.)

Growing up, when my dad was the only one behind the scenes at Jag, I remember he often had to check emails and respond to client messages during our vacations. Now that I’ve joined the company, he’s enjoying more leisure time on his vacations because he knows I’m on hand to take care of his clients. But if we both go on vacation at the same time? Well, that’ll be interesting.

– Sara, Director of Sales & Marketing

For the comments: What are the challenges YOU face working from home?

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