I have been working from home for almost three years now, and I love it. But that’s to say that it isn’t without it’s challenges. I often have to remind myself that the benefits outweigh the negatives. So, is working from home the ultimate dream or a nightmare?
Teaching and Working from Home
Well I’m a teacher and for me working from home has always been part and parcel of my working life. Except before I took on my current role, all the work I did at home was in addition to the 50 or so hours I had already put in at school. Monday to Friday.
It was easy to rack up 70 hours in a week. Arriving at school by 8 at the latest and leaving at around 5.00pm, sometimes 6.00pm. Then I would easily do another couple of hours most evenings, and usually another 4 or 5 hours over the weekend.
It soon added up, plus add a commute of an hour and half and I was easily devoting upwards to 80 hours a week to my working life…
So yes, for me as a teacher, I can say, without a doubt that working from home is the ultimate dream!
10 years ago, when I first qualified I would never have imagined that it was even a possibility for a teacher to work from home. However, here I am, a Head of Department, managing an English team and teaching students for an online school. All from the comfort of my own home.
So, what makes it the ultimate dream?
I can’t tell you how wonderful this is, not to mention just how much money I save a month in petrol and the other costs associated with running a car.
I can have a dog!
This just wasn’t possible before, because firstly, I didn’t have the time and secondly it wouldn’t have been fair to leave it alone all day
It makes managing my home much easier.
when I have a break I can whack a load of washing on, whizz the hoover around. Someone is always here to take in a parcel or have the meter read, I don’t have to waste any precious free time hanging around on days off because it’s all stuff that can be sorted during gaps in the day.
It’s really flexible.
Apart from my timetabled lessons, and as long as I’m contactable between 9.00 – 5.00pm and I work my total number of contracted hours, I am responsible for managing my time, and that autonomy is priceless.
I can work from anywhere in the world.
As long as I have a reliable internet connection, I can work from anywhere in the world. How exciting is that? (I’ve yet to do this, other than lesson planning on the train on the way to visit my sister who had just had her first baby, because it feels like I shouldn’t be, if that makes sense?!)
I’m a lot more productive.
Seriously! Because I have that freedom, it keeps my inner rebellion under wraps!
I can be more available for my family.
I started my current job just as my eldest son was sitting his GCSE’s. It meant I could be at home to support him through the exam period (He has ASD) and then support him as he made the transition to College. I’ve found being around more whilst they were getting through the last couple of years of their secondary education really beneficial. Teenagers really need their parents to be vigilant, It’s a stressful time and often just asking the right question, at the right time can make a huge difference to their well being.
But that’s not to say that it isn’t without it’s challenges. It has the potential to be difficult at times. Although not quite a nightmare!
Here are my reasons:
It can be quite lonely.
You don’t have colleagues immediately available to you to discuss work issues, or to just have a bit of a chat, a laugh and a joke. It can feel quite lonely at times, so you have to make sure that you have some work contacts or associates you can reach out to from time to time. It really does help you keep some perspective.
It’s really easy to get into bad habits.
Why get dressed if you don’t have to right? Still being in your dressing gown at lunch time might sound like an absolute dream, but it can very quickly affect your sense of self and well being. Getting showered and getting your war paint on does wonders for your mood and self esteem. Do it! Even if your dog is the only person to appreciate it!
You have to be very self motivated.
We all have times when it’s hard to get going with our work. When you work from home it’s very easy to find a distraction so you can procrastinate when it comes to those jobs that ‘can wait’! You have to be really strict with yourself, plan your time efficiently and motor through that to do list. Otherwise it’s unbelievably easy to find that you haven’t got through all the work you needed to, because of x, w and z!
It’s very sedentary.
Working from home, on a laptop is probably the most sedentary job ever. So you have to make a concerted effort to move, and move often throughout the day. Go out for a walk, do some jobs around the house, get up to have a cup of tea… Whatever it is, you have to make sure that you keep yourself moving!
There can be lots of interruptions.
To your family and friends it’s as if you don’t actually have a job. Because you don’t leave the house, they don’t value your ‘work time’ in the same way they would as if you left the house. It can be incredibly frustrating when they interrupt you to ask a question or have a chat, or just rock up and look confused when you explain to them that you are working! Argh!
It can be very difficult to separate work and home life.
Working hours can slip into home hours and home hours into work hours. It’s just how it is. That’s why it’s really important to have a routine and plan how you are going to account for your time.
It helps keep you on track and helps you to keep tabs on your productivity. It’s also a good idea to have a designated ‘workspace’ so that you can pack up and leave ‘work’ at the end of the day.
I have a little home office, with my desk looking out of the window, that I love. But it doesn’t have to be a whole room… I had a Harry Potter Office on the upstairs hallway of my old house!
Fancy Working from Home?
Finding a fulfilling career that gives you good work life balance is a challenge, I’ve written about that challenge, and the challenge of stepping away to something new here
If making a change and a move to working from home is something you are interested in, there are all kinds of opportunities available. www.workingmums.co.uk is a good place to start your research.
There are also lots of ways to make a living on a self-employed basis working from home. Emma Drew has absolutely nailed this. As has Ruth from Ruth Makes Money Check out their blogs for some fab hustles to make extra cash or a full time living online, from the comfort of your own home!