Are You Happy Working at Home?

Are You Happy Working at Home?
My home office is a delight to me. When I walk through the door and sit down at my desk, I feel a sense of relief. I am doing work I love, in a place I love, with and for clients (and a team) I love.
As the leader of a virtual team, comprised of contractors as young as 19 adding their talents to the mix, the last 16 months have shown me that working at home with a flexible schedule is not the right situation for everyone.
This summer, I attempted to work with an intern, fresh from his first year at college, a marketing major who hadn’t yet taken a marketing course. He had a lot to learn! But our free-style way of working didn’t fit his needs and the summer slipped by (I fear) without him learning/contributing all that he could have. As a leader, I take responsibility for that, at least partially.
If you are working with me, it’s my job to help you be successful in your work with my company. If you can’t be successful with me, then I need to help you be successful elsewhere by letting you go to find opportunities that will make your heart sing!
Are you happy working at home? If not, here are a few ideas that may help you find a work at home situation that is perfect for you.
1 – First, ask yourself these questions. What do I need to say no to? What are my priorities? What is “just perfect” about this situation? What balance is missing? (Hat tip to Mary Jo Asmus, who asked me those questions early in my work at home life. I wrote them on a sticky note that I still refer to frequently.) To be successful working at home, you must say no to some things. Asking these questions will help you find insight into what you could change to make your work at home situation work for you.
What will you say no to? What you say no to is more important than what you say yes to. I say no to phone calls between 3-4 pm so I can give my daughters attention after school. I say no to most activities during the school day (lunches out, etc) since that is my prime work time.
2 – Find an office outside your home where you can work, like a coffee shop or co-working facility. I’m an extrovert, so last fall, I felt really sad and lonely when all of my girls were in school for the first time. For several weeks, I would drop them off, and go to Starbucks  to work for a few hours before coming home. I would spend some time socializing and most of the time working. I’m so busy now with calls and meetings that I get plenty of interaction, but if your work is more solitary, finding a place to work with others may help you.
3 – Set a schedule for yourself, and plan enjoyable activities to look forward to around your work schedule. i.e. – plan to wake up at the same time each day, exercise at the same time, start your work day at the same time — and put cool stuff on your calendar in between (lunch with a friend, a small group, special time with your spouse, etc.) If needed, find an accountability partner to help you stick to your schedule.
4 – Ask others what has worked for them. If you work on a virtual team, ask members of the team what has worked for them!
5 – Plug into online interaction. I use Twitter and Facebook as virtual water coolers, places to take a break and interact in between tasks and meetings. Connecting online (for me) meets some of my socialization needs. I am happier working at home because of my ability to connect with people around the world with a few keystrokes.
6 – Figure out it this is a fit. It might be that you need a job with more people interaction. Or perhaps you need a job where you are an employee with set hours. Flexibility is a beautiful gift AND working flexibly on your own may not be the best for you during this stage of your life. Even though working at home may be just perfect for someone else, if you are not happy, give yourself permission  to consider what’s best for you.
Tell me something! What tips to you have for how to be happy working at home? What has worked for you?
The photo is a corner in my home office. Isn’t it cozy?
Filed As:  virtual, social

About Becky Robinson

I am the owner of Weaving Influence and the leader of the Weaving Influence team. We help authors and thought leaders grow their online influence. I am also a wife and mom of three daughters, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, a good cup of coffee, and dark chocolate.

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What People Are Saying

  • Great tips! Finding motivation when working from home can be difficult. There are a lot of distractions to keep you from focusing on work. Setting boundaries, and goals for the day help keep me on track.

  • Becky, that is cozy. Mine is not (no photo included yet).

    I have been working from home since 2000. Prior to that, we had offices at three different locations–sometimes multiple locations when projects were spread out geographically–beginning in 1976. It was actually an employee who approached me and asked, “Why are you spending all of this money on overhead now that we have so many ways to communicate instantly? If we need to get together in person for some relational teariness, we can pick a cafe in the area.” When I thought it through, I realized that the nature of our business had changed to the point where clients no longer wanted to come to our offices–they wanted us to come to their offices. The only exceptions were highly confidential conversations which could easily be done at a restaurant. That’s the background. What I think I’ve learned about being productive at home is:

    1. I can’t have a cozy space. I need space that is 100% business-like and reflects a “normal” office. That’s what works for me.

    2. My family needed to be given very clear direction about my rules. The office door is always closed when I am working and no one simply walks right in. They knock. Sometimes I say “no” because I’m in the middle of a project and don’t want to lose the flow.

    3. The exception to #2 is the darned cat. He gets whatever he wants.

    4. At first I felt awkward because 90% of our clients are Fortune 500 companies and I had this crazy fantasy that they knew I was at home and would stop taking me seriously. Surprise: every one of them ultimately said, “What took you so long? We’re jealous!”

    5. If I am doing, say, assessment feedback, people enjoy coming here for one-on-one discussions. The downside surfaces when I need to meet with 3 people from a company. Although there is way more than enough room (the office is 20′ x 20′), the parking throws up a red flag for neighbors who may not enjoy having to park further from their homes and could decide to raise an issue with the township. If it happened once a year, no problem. But it’s not something that can be done with regularity, so I now travel when I used to be able to host meetings.

    6. The most difficult part: seeing things that need attention in the house/yard and still focusing on work. It is hugely alluring to paint something or mow the lawn in the midst of boring paperwork; that’s the part requiring the most discipline for me.

    Would I recommend working from home? You bet! If you can create a life that allows you the income you need and you can generate that income in your pajamas, what could be better? I’ve conducted more than one webinar wearing a shirt, tie, and pajama bottoms. There is something strangely satisfying about that:-)

    Good topic, Becky.

  • Working at home is generally more pleasant for introverts (I’m an INTJ). However, as you’ve pointed out, social media and working from a public place (like Starbucks) may provide enough social contact for people need it to be happy.

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