I was taking part in a research survey the other day and one of the questions really struck me. It was about working from home, and more specifically, how long I intended to remain part of the ‘gig economy’
It stopped me in my tracks a bit, if I’m honest – because something suddenly dawned on me. I’ve never considered whether or not working from home was fully sustainable long term.
Do you see yourself working from home or remaining part of the gig economy for the next three years, the survey demanded of me. And my answer, almost instinctively, was yes.
This is what stopped and made me think. What is it about working from home that I can’t bear to tear myself away from? Is it the hours of solitude? The ongoing battle with self-motivation? The constant deluge of interruptions or the almost nonexistent barrier between my work life and my home life?
Factoring all of the above into consideration and somehow I still can’t see myself returning to the front-facing world of work anytime soon. It’s not because I can afford to stay at home either, far from it.
So what is it that makes working from home the right option for me (and possibly you)?
What are the downsides of working from home?
I’m a prophet of doom for the most part so I always look at the downsides first. Plus, that way, I’m left with the positives ringing in my ears as I contemplate whatever I’m trying to weigh up next.
There are plenty of downsides to working from home and it’d be a lie to claim otherwise. Freelance life is tough in many ways, not least the enforced sense of isolation that some may really struggle to get used to at first. If you’re used to a busy workplace environment such as an office or shop floor, the sudden shift into working for hours at a time without anyone else around can be difficult.
Not for me, because I’m an antisocial cow at the best of times, but you get the idea.
Another thing to think about is that being your own boss brings a new and challenging set of personal responsibilities. Not least being able to self-motivate and manage a workload that’s generated entirely by you now. There’s no boss to give you your tasks for the day; if you don’t make them happen, they don’t get done…and then crucially, you don’t get paid.
Expect interruptions too. Lots of them. Home and work life can get mixed together at times, and it’s one of the more frustrating aspects of things that you’ll need to learn to cope with.
Working from home, especially if you’re a freelancer, requires a lot of focus and skill for prioritising your workload. You need to know which projects to focus on first, otherwise, you’ll end up doing a lot of plate spinning and not really getting anywhere. This is one aspect of freelancing that I often struggle with if I’m honest. It’s not that I can’t organise myself, but without a strict schedule, I find it quite easy to wander off into different areas of my workload at once. Kind of like me writing this blog post right now when I’m meant to be designing t-shirts, but there we go.
You might be wondering why I’d continue to follow the path of self-employment, given all the pitfalls and challenges. Well, here’s why.
What are the best bits about working from home?
Having given it some thought, the positives of working from home do vastly outweigh the negatives. I feel like this will definitely vary from person to person and not everyone will see these things as positives. However, if you’re like me and enjoy your own company, you may find working from home is exactly what you need to stay on an even keel.
As a freelance worker, you have the freedom to choose and manage the projects you want to work on. Choice is an important word here. Sometimes there will be moments where you feel like you have to do things you’d rather not do, but that’s just work; it doesn’t really matter if you do it from home or from an office.
However as your own boss, you do have the freedom to turn things down if you want to, and that’s a great power that you wouldn’t necessarily have if you’re working for someone else.
You really do have the power to dictate and manage your own workload when you’re based out of your own home office. That’s a challenge, but it’s a positive challenge.
Other benefits of working from home
Working from home means you can upskill in ways you may not have time for in other workplace settings. I’ve learned so much more in the five years I’ve been working from home than I ever would’ve done if I’d stayed in my full-time job. Due to the flexibility of being freelance, I’ve been able to take a range of online courses to learn new skills that really complement my digital life.
There are many ways you can work from home these days. In the digital landscape, you no longer have to do front-facing work if there are home-based options available. Additionally, there are lots of ways you can supplement your self-employed or home-based income; check out this post on making some cash when you’re in a pinch for more information on that.
Is working from home right for you?
One of the other things to consider about going freelance or working from home is whether or not it will suit your personality. Some people thrive on the company of others, and it’s often the case that home-based work involves a lot of alone time.
That’s not to say you won’t be able to connect with and build relationships online. far from it. Some of the best friendships I’ve got now are with people who I’ve met through my digital work. I’m able to chat with them daily and meetings over webchats are much faster than over coffee in the real world.
God, that sounded SO antisocial. But you get what I mean!
Should you try working from home?
Working from home isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. However, for some people, it really brings a sense of freedom and ownership to their career satisfaction. Ultimately, it boils down to the kind of person you are as to whether or not you’ll enjoy the challenge of working from home. I haven’t even touched upon the whole work-life balance aspects of this issue, because they’re another story entirely.
For me, however, being able to be at home for Small-Me and to be able to work remotely has been a really positive thing. If I hadn’t made the switch to freelance work, then I think I’d definitely be a lot more stressed and a lot less visibly present in her life as she’s growing up.
Although the financial stability of self-employment isn’t as set in stone as a regular job, I still think that working from home brings more positives than negatives into my life. This won’t be the same for everyone. So again, make sure you consider your own personality and circumstances carefully.
What are your thoughts on working from home?
Do you work from home? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this if you are an experienced freelancer or even if you’re just starting out. What are your top tips for working from home?
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