Working from home – the highs and the lows
Work From Home Week aims to get employers and employees thinking about the option of working from home and all the benefits it can bring, from avoiding the rush-hour crush to creating a better work/life balance.
To celebrate Work From Home Week, IPSE's Nick Walton spent a day working on his laptop at home.
There are many benefits of working from home, and it is one of the reasons so many are now taking up self-employment: the freedom to fit work around your family life, to be your own boss, and the big one for me, to escape the cost and pressure of commuting.
The small commute from my bedroom to the kitchen when I first wake up hardly compares to the tight and often sweaty squeeze of an hour long train into London, and for that I’m thankful.
Getting a couple more hours sleep helps too - I feel much more refreshed when I open up my laptop to begin working in the morning.
The usual office distractions are no longer there, and I find myself able to work at my own pace, taking the necessary breaks when I need too - usually to go check the tennis score in the lounge. It’s a lot less stressful without the restraint of a single office for the day.
However as the day goes by I begin to get a little lonely. It's much more difficult getting in touch with those at work when you can't just pop over to their desk. And I miss the office "gossip" and spend my lunch break looking up funny cat videos.
I end up getting distracted in the afternoon and fall behind in my work. I work past my usual office closing time of just after 5pm, and continue working until dinner playing catch-up. It's a relief to be able to take advantage of the flexibility of working hours, and to keep working into the evening.
Some may prefer to lose the structure available in a workplace, while others will struggle to cope with the change. I think I fall into the latter category.
For self-employed people, I can definitely see the benefits of working from home, the flexible hours are fantastic, and you’re free of distractions (most of the time).
If I was to become a freelancer and work from home, there are of course many ways to combat loneliness, such as:
- Changing up the work environment. Why not work in a library or a cafe with free wifi?
- Taking breaks through the day to clear your head – go for a run or cook some dinner
- Joining online freelancer communities – through the likes of freelancer.com or mumsnet
- Getting a monthly membership to a co-working space – they often encourage collaboration with fellow self-employed people.
All of these would also be a step in the right direction and help you build your own support system.
IPSE Freelancer of the Year, Emmeline Pidgen, seemed to sum this up nicely in an interview with us last year: "Freelancing can be lonely: we don’t have office gossip, weekly meetings or group brainstorming sessions - so we need to break out of the studio, network, collaborate and connect with other freelancers. We’re all lone wolves here, but sometimes it’s good to run with the pack."
Looking back on my day working from home, I think a person must always consider the implications that come with working alone – and be mentally prepared for the day ahead.