Are you up to the challenges of working from home?

Are you up to the challenges of working from home?People wonder whether people working from home actually works.

Yahoo reversed its decision about working from home in a recent VentureBeat article:

The new policy will most directly affect several hundred people who had negotiated work-at-home agreements (out of a total workforce of about 12,000) and who may not be able to work in a Yahoo office without relocating. It will also limit the ability of Silicon Valley-based employees to take the occasional work-at-home day. So we can expect other Valley companies will capitalize on this memo by trying to poach disgruntled Yahoo employees.

If you designed your lifestyle from the working from home concept, this dramatic change could mean you might not want the job anymore.

The ideal working from home employee (or entrepreneur)

Don’t assume everyone can make this lifestyle change work. You need a mindset change to make working from home work.

My own working from home stories

However, as someone who worked from home almost my entire career, I understand the challenges.

My first work-from-home experience started as an employee. At that time, a project management firm hired my husband and I to open and manage a 50 unit HUD housing project. In this case, work and home entangled since our home was also the model apartment open for tours.

Young, 25 when hired, I was green, new to property management, and supervision. Even in those early days, I committed to office hours and a plan of work. When my first Day-timer came by UPS, I was so excited I opened it in the parking lot.

Five years later, transferred internally to another state, we worked at a new complex with a diametrically different resident composition, a luxury complex. We didn’t discuss child care or where we would work before we opened the complex. Ironically, a job loss caused a career change. I chose to write resumes and help people with their own job search. Design Resumes was born out of necessity when I had two babies under the age of two and had lost our job. I chose to work from home.

Essential skills for working from home

  • Time Management – if you easily get distracted and cannot put processes in place (like the Daytimer or an online calendar and task list) to organize your day, you will not make a very good work-from-home-worker.
  • Technology Savvy – The majority of work-from-home workers use technology to communicate. I had my first computer in 1983 when the first phase of Design Resumes began. People who find it hard to do the basics on a computer suffer in a work-from-home environment with less technology support than in the office.
  • Solid Focus – working from home means you juggle more things and get interrupted. How you handle those interruptions tell whether this is a good fit for you.
  • End of the Day – Amazingly, one of the biggest challenges from some work-from-home workers is the opposite. They have trouble shutting down to interact with family or friends. Work can become all consuming because you can work all your working hours if you desire.
  • Organization – One of the most difficult challenges is organization if you are not born organized. No one sets up the filing system and no one tells you processes you need.

Companies who employ work-from-home employees need controls

Additionally, assess employees before an agreement and possibly add a probationary period. Not a fan of constant surveillance, any system tracking 24/7 would be annoying. At the same time, ensure accountability. Put systems in place to require contact with the employee and measure productivity.

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  1. Brent Peterson on February 27, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    You’ve put into good perspective Julie. I do feel this has been blown way out of proportion. From my other experience, there are distractions in the office and in the home office. When I worked from home, I was actually putting in longer days and weekends. But I do feel face to face collaboration is the best way to work as a team.

    • Julie Walraven on February 27, 2013 at 7:42 pm

      I think you can facilitate face-to-face when you need it. But I think most people are sent to more meetings than they can handle. I know that with my non-profit contracts, I went to many meetings but I still worked from home. I also know that there are some people it would never work for but before they are hired for a work-from-home position that should be addressed and screened. Thanks for popping by, Brent! Always good to see you!

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