If you have experience working from home, there are things that you know all too well – and the crazy hours we keep is only the beginning. Yes, our home offices are just minutes or seconds away, but that morning “commute” can often get interrupted by a family member calling, or the dog wanting to go for his walk. Not every home office is the same and not everyone has the same experiences, but as someone who works from home, most can all agree on experiencing one or more of these things.
Sometimes working from home instead of a traditional office space can put a strain on family relations, especially if you have children. When your kids see that mommy or daddy is home, they assume that it is playtime or that they can ask for help or anything else. If boundaries are not established, your work may suffer. Boundaries can easily be set, however. They can be as simple as having a closed door to your home office or setting times of when you are not to be disturbed.
Even with home-office boundaries in place, you know that the one time you can take a break (to play a game of computer solitaire or watch that online video someone sent you), is the same time when a family member will barge into your office about something and catch you not working. This kills your credibility after saying repeatedly “When I am in my office, I am working on important things.”
Another thing that many self-employed or small business owners who work from home experience is that their neighbors believe that you are unemployed or you are a criminal. They see you not leaving for work, while they hurredly start their daily commute. They really believe it when return from work and see that you have mowed your lawn in the middle of the day on a weekday.
You are on a business call sitting on your back deck or patio, when your neighbor decides to fire up their lawn mower or leaf blower. This is easy to explain to your clients if they know that you work from home, but if they believe you work from an office (because they have seen your business address for your virtual office), well, that can be a bit more problematic.
Working from home and getting a lot of deliveries puts you on a first-name basis with your regular courier drivers and your Canada Post guy – but that familiarity can often cause extra-long conversations at the door while you are trying to get work done or are currently on a business call.
The costs of office supplies is higher than you expected, so you horde them and hide them from family members who think it is okay to take them from your office. When you were working for another company that supplied you with the things you needed, you likely never knew the price of these office supplies unless you were the person doing the purchasing.
Often, extended family members will call you while you are working or think it is okay to just drop by because you work from home and set your own hours. Educating friends and family may seem simple, but the often seem to find and excuse too interrupt you. You know they would never just show up at you downtown office space without making an appointment or notifying you, but they are hard pressed to understand that your home office needs to be treated in the same professional way.
When a client calls and wants an in-person meeting, you do not want to have that meeting in your home office or at your kitchen table, so you have to find a solution. Coffee shops and public libraries may offer meeting spaces, but the detract from your professional appearance. Having your business address at a office business centre that also offers virtual offices, gives you access to meeting rooms and professional boardrooms. Even if you are not a client of a business centre, you can very often rent a boardroom by the day, half day and sometimes the hour.
Then there are those days when you do not feel like getting out of your pajamas or workout sweats. That is the day you get an email or call from a customer or vendor that wants to have a video conference call. This is when you reach for that dress shirt and tie that you keep in your home office for just such an occasion.
You are smart enough to know that you should only schedule outside business appointments between 9:30 am and 3 pm, because otherwise you are going to be stuck in traffic. Not dealing with commutes and traffic is one of the reasons why you choose to work from your home office and not downtown.
While most of these types of things mainly happen to people who work full-time from home, even some of Telsec’s office clients who telecommute a few days a week have mentioned similar experiences. We even have one client who used to work from home, but decided to rent our shared office space for the times he needed a place to drop in and get work done without needing a full time office. And this arrangement also gave him access to boardrooms and meeting rooms.