“Working from home is not for everyone”
I fundamentally disagree with that premise.
I’ve worked from home full-time for almost 5 years. Everyone has the capacity to work from home if they put even the slightest amount of effort into it.
Here are a few things I’ve learned over my time in my home office.
Note: I’m a software developer, so this comes from a perspective of doing Software Development remotely, but these concepts apply to a large number of other industries as well.
Many people have said that you must be self-motivated to work from home. Some have even asked me how I stay focused and on track while here.
From my perspective, you have to be self-motivated to keep your job. If you require a manager to constantly direct you back to the task at hand you are going to struggle whether you are at home or at the office.
Working from an office forces a routine onto you. A typical morning might be getting up at 6:30, showering, drinking coffee, eating a bagel, and listening to your favorite podcast during your drive to the office.
When you work from home you still need a routine. It helps get your brain into the work mindset, and prepares you for the work day ahead. A typical morning routine for a remote worker might be getting up at 7, showering, drinking coffee, eating a bagel, and going for a short walk around the block while listening to your favorite podcast.
If you show up to your home office in your pajamas, you are going to waste your entire day surfing Twitter instead of getting work done.
Likewise, having an end-of-day routine is important as well.
When you have no boundaries you’ll wind up intermixing your personal and work lives so deeply that no work gets done yet you cannot get away from work.
I have always struggled to leave work at work. My (very patient) wife knows that I always have something about work on my mind, and I have to be dragged back into the moment at hand.
The best thing that I have done to help in this area is have a dedicated area where I do work, and only work. While you may not be able to have a separate building, you really do need at least a dedicated room. If you’re trying to work from home from a desk in your bedroom you are going to struggle to keep your work and personal lives distinct.
Another problem frequently mentioned is constant distraction by your spouse or kids. This one can be a bit more difficult to solve, but it is a problem that can be managed.
My wife is at home with the kids and she does an amazing job at maintaining this boundary. (No seriously, she’s amazing.) It requires her to be fully on board for this boundary to work.
Every morning I tell my family “I’m going to work” and every evening I tell them “I’m home.”
In a future post I will discuss ways an employer can be a better remote employer.