The (Dis)Advantages of Working From Home
Being a freelancer means you often have complete freedom on where to work. However, we tend to stay at home and work from our beds, dining room tables, a corner in our room, or if we’re lucky enough, a whole room dedicated as an office. What we mostly do not do, is leave our home to work in a separate office or co-working space.
Working from home comes with several advantages after all – no overhead, free range of the kitchen, no dress code and the ability to sleep as late as we want and stroll from the bedroom to our computer.
However, there are also several disadvantages we should be aware of. Distractions from family, children or pets being the biggest issue we come across. Also, walking two feet from our bedroom to our office means we don’t get the exercise we should – and we’re increasingly becoming an unhealthy industry. It also means you lead a distinctly lonely work day - and without a boss breathing down your neck you’re more apt to goof off on the internet.
Even with all of these disadvantages – I still wouldn’t trade it for any other job in the world, nor would I bother with paying the high costs of renting an office space. Instead, I’ve aimed to become more productive and turn these into non-issues. How can you do it?
Distractions From Family & Pets
Our biggest issues normally stem from the distractions caused by loved ones. While it’s true that freelancers have a more flexible schedule and can often take more breaks, that doesn’t mean we don’t have strict deadlines of our own. I’ve found myself stopping work in order to play with my dogs or hang spend time with my husband, only to see the whole day go by without any work getting done.
While it may seem rude or inconsiderate to shut out the loved ones, it’s a necessary evil in order to get stuff done. Here are a few tricks that have worked for me (and some my hubby has used against me!):
- Shut the door. If you’re lucky enough to have a whole room dedicated as an office, sometimes it works best to just shut the door and drown out the noise.
- Leave the animals outside. Sometimes my doggies can get a little restless and drive me up the wall when I’m trying to concentrate, so if it’s a nice day out (and you have a fenced in yard), I’d leave them outside a little longer than normal so they can run off the energy and let me work.
- Put on headphones. Nikita uses this trick on me. When he’s trying to concentrate on work and I’m babbling on about nothing, he’ll put on his headphones. Eventually I realize he’s not listening and get tired of having him take off his headphones and repeat myself. Eventually I leave him alone. Not the nicest, but it works!
Nobody likes a fat developer, and since I’ve gone freelance, I’ve notice a huge weight gain. So what have I done to remedy this? I moved across the world to London, where every day I’ve had to walk at least two miles to get anything accomplished.
Of course, that’s not going to work for the majority, or probably anyone else. But it’s important to make some life changes now before you get to the age where you end up having health problems. I like you guys and fully expect all of us to be coding together well into our triple digits!
Of of the main issues of working from home is grazing – I’ve noticed personally that I tend to stray into the cupboards for snack food quite often. If you do this to, go ahead and get rid of the junk food and stock up on healthy snacks and fruits. That why you’re at least eating healthy.
If you’ve got pets, now’s the time to give them some attention. Take a longer lunch and use it to walk them around the block, or play some sports with your kids. Relocate to the city if you can. I know personally that I could never stick to going to the gym or an exercise plan – I had to force myself to work out but working it into my daily routine. I currently live in the city about a mile from any public transport – so even if I decide to be lazy one day and take the subway, I still get 2 miles of exercise. I’ve already noticed a decrease in appetite, weight and general pudgyness since I got here 3 weeks ago.
Lonely – I’m so Lonely
Another difficult disadvantage of working from home is the loneliness. I tend to be a loner anyways so this didn’t bother me too much until I realized I worked so much and so alone, that I didn’t have many friends! I also lived in the middle of nowhere so it was hard to meet up with the friends I had and even harder to find fellow devs and designers to hang with.
Now, I’m finding I have a ton of friends and contacts in the area and am meeting up with one of them almost every day for lunch or dinner. This forces me to get out of the house AND get some exercise. It also helps networking wise, as we can talk about work much easier. Plus, it’s fun to finally get to put faces to twitter avatars, voices or emails.
If you live in an area with a lot of people, you can also try meeting clients in person. I used to be pretty firmly against this, as I felt it wasted too much of my day for little payoff, but I’ve started looking forward to these outings. I get to be social and get out of the house; plus see parts of the city I’ve never been to.I also often get a free lunch (yum!) and I feel better connected to my clients.
If you’re not in an area with a lot of people or clients, try working some place public, like a library or coffeeshop. Just be careful that you’re not in someplace distracting or you won’t get anything done.
Coworking spaces are large offices that allow you to rent a desk, or even a whole space. They’re cheaper than actually renting your own office, plus you get to share space with like-minded individuals. Some of these places let you rent by the hour or day; others let you have an actual short lease.
I’ve never done this personally, but have been contemplating doing it once or twice a week here – just got to find a place close enough to be worth it.