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Working From Home: Challenges and Solutions

The number of work-from-home positions offered now vs. 10 to 20 years ago has increased greatly. According to an article published in CNN Money in 2012, there were about 4 million more people working from home in 2012 than in 1999. This indicates a 41% increase in this job market, and that was three years ago. We have all seen the rise in telecommuting jobs even since then — job search engines now have a filter for telecommuting positions! With this increase, one may wonder why there aren’t more telecommuting employees. I would venture to say that some have tried and have not been very successful.

For as many benefits as there are to working from home, there are just as many challenges. In fact, it’s usually the benefits of this type of position that create the challenges we face in these roles. Luckily by following a few guidelines and implementing these strategies, you could find yourself very successful in a work-from-home job.

Having a Dedicated Work Space

One relief you may feel when you work from home is that you no longer have to worry about showing up to work after a long commute, already frustrated from your drive, only to be met with all the “Chatty Cathy” co-workers huddled together as you walk through the door. Although there is a benefit to not driving to the office in the morning, it doesn’t mean your work day starts free of distractions when working from home. In fact, for me, and I’m sure many others like me, it starts filled with even more distraction. The key here is to have a dedicated work space. This way, you have a designated place that tells the rest of the world, “I’m working.”

Make a Schedule

Another mistake that can be made when starting a telecommuting position is taking too many liberties with the flexible schedules we often have. Yes, most positions offer a certain amount of freedom, but that doesn’t mean you can work 10 minutes here and 10 minutes there throughout the day, or think, “oh, I’ll get to it when I have a second.” This is your JOB! You still need to treat it as such. So, my second piece of advice is to make a schedule and stick to it.

Facing the Fear

The last three tips all have to do with the fact that there is a certain amount of autonomy to a telecommuting position. Let’s face it, one of the things that keep us motivated is fear: fear of losing your job, fear of not living up to your boss’ expectations, fear of not succeeding. To a certain extent, that “fear” isn’t in the foreground of our thought process; without our bosses constantly looking over our shoulders, it begins to motivate us less and less, and it affects productivity for those of us who need it. To counteract this, I have three tips:

Designate an accountability partner

Let’s face it, we all do better when there is somebody to answer to at the end of the day. It doesn’t have to be somebody from work; my daughter is my accountability partner, and believe me, she’s tougher than any boss I’ve ever had

Set high but attainable goals

This is a little harder, especially starting out, because you may set the bar too high (or too low). Just remember to adjust your expectations as you get more comfortable in your job, or if you’ve set the bar too high in the beginning. This will give you something to work towards, and give you a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

Don’t save your least favorite task for last

This is one I feel we all fall victim to. The hard part is, with nobody looking over your shoulder; with nobody right there asking you if you’ve complete the task it’s much easier to push something off from day to day. So, what do we all tend to do? We schedule that task for the end of the day. Then at the end of the day, you’ve used up all your hours, or you look at your clock and you know you’ll never get it done before your hours are up, so you say you’ll do it tomorrow. The cycle continues the next day, and then the next. Just throw it at the top of your schedule, get it done and out of the way, and you won’t have to worry about it until the next time it comes up.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below! Interested in working from home? Fill out an application today.

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