Thursday, July 31, 2014

12 unexpected (and a few expected) facts about working-from-home

photo credit: Paul Shirey

I’ve been working-from-home for over eight years now, trying out new roles, practicing my craft. In these years, I’ve been an employee and an editor, a content writer and a freelance journalist, an entrepreneur and a Holistic Health Coach, a blogger and a writer mama. I’ve done a ton of writing, and then some.

I’ve followed home cheques and lost some. I’ve worked with magazine editors and company owners, and created projects on my own. I’ve set up my home office in corners of bedrooms and dining tables, and when lucky, in entire studio rooms. I’ve worked through days, when working-from-home seemed almost impossible. I’ve worked through failed Internet connections and major power cuts. I’ve always met my deadlines and hardly ever my editors. I’ve dabbled in health coaching and now, in blogging.

I’m always on crossroads because I’m a work-at-home professional adapting my goals and to-do’s to my life situations.

So, here’s my dirty dozen on the things you may not expect working-at-home to be.

1.       It’s hard. Period. I can hear you disagree, but hey, try juggling home and career, work and family, social commitments and postings, poor net connectivity and deadlines, and then tell me what you think.
2.       It’s not about easy money. In my profession, cheques come at a trickle, many months after you’ve wrapped up your assignments, submitted them on time, seen the story in print and then some. I’m sure there are other avenues that are more lucrative, but any work you do and that too from your home office, will take its own sweet time to rake in the cash.
3.       You rarely work in your pajamas or night suit. I can’t forget the umpteen times, people have commented, not without a touch of envy, about how wonderful it must be to earn big bucks in my night suit! Haha. Well, the reality? If you want to earn big bucks, you gotta change out of the night suit and slip into your ‘work clothes’, just like you do when you go to an office. And you have to put in serious work and time to earn those big bucks. 
4.       You’re flexible about your work timings, but not so flexible that you don’t get any work done. Oh yes, as a work-at-home professional, you can play around a bit with your time. But you can’t chuck your schedule out of the window because at the end of the day, you gotta meet your deadlines and you gotta practice your craft.
5.       You cannot work from anywhere, all the time. I mean, yes, I can work from anywhere that my husband is posted to, and if push comes to shove, I’ll turn my dining table into my office, like I did last year when we were living in a transit room out of our suitcases. But hey, like any professional, a work-from-home pro needs office space too. It can be a desk at the corner of the bedroom or a garage turned into an office, but a creating a sacred space for work can make all the difference in your sanity and professionalism.
6.       In some ways, working-from-home is more difficult than working outside the home. Factor in the frequent doorbells, friends dropping in for chitchat and coffee, the kids to be looked after, meals to be cooked, the domestic help to be supervised, the dog to be walked, the ladies’ meetings to be attended and the blurred boundaries between home and office, and you’ll wonder how anyone gets any work done in the first place J!
7.       It takes patience. Oh yes, oodles of it. Not just to work while juggling your several roles as wife, military spouse and mum but also to set up a home-based business, to hone your craft, to build your network, to get noticed for your work.
8.       It’s not all play and no work. There’s a lot of fun in working from home. There’s so much goodness in this system of work. But there’s just as much hard work.
9.       Goals are very much part of the work-from-home system. You need them to help you find your direction, to explore new territories, to create new opportunities.
10.   You have to work doubly hard to make it as a work-at-home professional. Be it networking with other professionals, upgrading your skills, finding interesting work or chasing payments, it takes a lot of guts and gumption to make the most of a work-from-home life.
11.   You’re saved from office politics. Never my favorite bit about working in an office, so having set up my own home office, I’m free from the shackles of office politics that jog along with you in most places of work.
12.   You can be your own boss. Now, isn’t that fun! You are the captain of your career. No more relying on others for pay hikes and gold stars. You get to decide what you want to work on, how much you want to earn, where you want to take your career. You get to create a career around what you’re passionate about.

So, are you a work-at-home wannabe? If you’re looking for a beginner’s guide to setting up your own home office and pursuing your passion, hop over to my hot-from-the-press blog called Baby Steps to Working-from-Home for tools and tips.

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