So lets say you may be floating somewhere on cloud nine by securing perhaps first-time employment or starting your own business that allows you to work from a home-base – many congratulations if that is the case.
Working from home is one of those concepts, like eating a very large choc ice on a very hot day, that sounds great in theory. But, just like taking on a large choc ice in 30C heat, if you don’t approach it carefully, methodically and industriously, you’ll end up in a bit of a pickle, flustered and quite possibly quite sticky.
Though let’s be positive: working from home – whether it’s a day out of the office, every now and again, working for yourself or something that you do because you just don’t have an office – may mean that you are your own boss. All right, you might have an actual boss somewhere, but you can start early or late, have a leisurely breakfast and then starting work in your pyjamas or take two and half hours for lunch and watch a bit of daytime TV……right? Well along with the positives there are a few things from work psychology that the home-based worker may need to be aware of and plan for.
Clearly as with most things in life home-based working its all about preparation. Planning, discipline, regular breaks (home-based workers generally underestimate the need for breaks) more ecologically friendly (lack of a commute) are all positive aspects of home-based working though be prepared for the psychological fallout too.
Research into home-based working shows it may be fraught with psychological pitfalls, as found by both my research and many others. The findings fall into a number of specific categories that rear their heads on numerous occasions. So here just a few issues from research that may be worth thinking about before you dive in working from home.
- Mental well-being – try not to become isolated staring at the same four walls at home day-in-day out. Get out and meet people and colleagues regularly to help stave off stress and depression.
- Make sure you boss technology and it doesn’t boss you! Try not to take your smart phone or computer to bed just to be contactable by customers or the boss. Take a break from IT when you can.
- Think about how your home and work space is going to function. Its tricky to sometimes think of your home as a place that you work in, as we have distinct cognitive constructs and behaviours for both. So perhaps a morning commute may help you get you ready to work or play?
- Be prepared for tricky negotiations with family members to ensure that the work station/space is respected as just that. Can be awkward if children want to play and you are on the phone. So prepare the ground before hand to create the boundaries.
So forearmed is forewarned and with some careful planning and discipline your home and work life can be a great compromise for a lot of employees and self-employed people.