The common pitfalls of working from home (and how to avoid them)

Working from home often seems like the best thing to do, with increased flexibility over your work schedule. Here’s how to avoid the distractions.

Many people dream of working from home. Imagine not having to deal with lengthy commutes to work and back, annoying co-workers, and loss of your personal freedom while at work?

Self-starters enjoy working independently, without worrying about management looking over their shoulders. Office work is challenging. There are protocols to follow, meetings to attend, and dress codes to adhere to. Working from home appears to be the elixir to all of these challenges, but it comes with its own set of unique challenges.

Distractions are everywhere when you work from home. With nobody but yourself to tell you what to do, it’s easy to get pulled every which way, when you’re supposed to keep focused on the work.

Think of all the things around you, including your pets, children, significant other, neighbors, friends, and colleagues who may serve as distractions during your workday.

If you are the type of person who can close yourself off in an office, turn off the TV, logout of E-Commerce shopping sites, turn off all social media, and work in complete silence, then you are a ‘Grade A’ candidate for working from home. 

Are you more productive at home or in the office?

Unfortunately, many of us are too easily distracted by all of the above. If we work from home, then the expectation is that we are accessible to everyone else who is at home with us. This can pose serious challenges to your productivity, hampering your effectiveness in the process.

Of course, there are many actions that can be taken, and steps that can be followed to prevent distractions from overriding your work responsibilities. The following failsafe tips have been recommended by work from home advocates and business coaches:

  • Close out all unnecessary tabs on your browser
  • Turn off the TV and place the remote in a drawer
  • Work in a quiet, secluded office in your home with the door closed
  • Don’t overwork yourself because you will get burned out and ruin it for yourself 
  • Never work under the influence of alcohol, narcotics, or other controlled substances
  • Place your iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, or Blackberry on Silent or Do Not Disturb
  • Avoid falling into a trap of social isolation which is the single biggest bugbear of work at home opportunities 

How to stay focused on your work and not on distractions?

The problem with online distractions is that they are so enticing. It’s incredibly easy to click a new tab on your browser, and navigate to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Blogs, Forums, Chat Rooms, et al. These social media platforms are rife with content designed to draw your attention away from whatever it is that you’re doing. 

One way of staying away from social media and other distractions is a unique software application known as BlockSite. This app blocker and URL blocker is highly effective in helping you to control your time and manage all of the distractions on your PC.  

Among the many benefits of productivity-focused applications, are greater control over your own time, by preventing you from participating in time-consuming, wasteful activity.  

It’s also important to structure your work day with a flexible schedule. One of the key ingredients to a long-term, work-from-home career is effective scheduling. If you live alone, your task is infinitely easier. Add in pets, children, and loved ones, and things quickly become complicated. Interpersonal relationships get tested to the limit when home-based workers refuse to interact with family members because they are working. 

By the same token, a sunny day outside is a highly enticing prospect. Why not skip the work for a couple of hours and enjoy the outdoors? These thoughts can certainly derail your efforts at remaining productive, so resist that temptation. Flexible scheduling is not cast in stone. Instead, you can try to install an indoor waterfall fountain into your office. The sound of falling water is soothing and very calming so you’ll be able to take a break and distress, the natural way.

Get up in time to finish on time 

You can start your day earlier and end earlier if you’d like to spend more evening time with friends and family. Alternatively, you can break your work schedule up to accommodate your needs and those of others during set hours of the day. Flexi-time options can certainly be implemented into a work from home regimen.

When you work from home, your employers will consider you ‘available’ at all times. Since you’re not coming into an office, it’s really easy for them to get hold of you on Zoom, Skype, Whatsapp, Email, or via Text messaging. Initially, this repertoire may be exciting and give you a sense of inclusiveness with the company. 

But that too gets old, and you will rue the day that your employers and colleagues no longer respect your private time because you work from home. To avoid such situations, set boundaries. This goes for employers as well as personal relationships. Work hours are work hours, and private time is private time.

Security challenges when working from home

Working from home requires attention to detail. You will be sharing important data between your computer and your clients. The proprietary data needs to be protected at all times. The integrity of your system is sacrosanct. Always update your operating system, run the latest antivirus software, and stick to all the security precautions that are warranted.

Password management, browser security, and adherence to the highest industry standards must be a priority. To this end, use encrypted data with non-networked machines. This ensures that your content and sensitive information is 100% safe from bad actors. If information is stored in the cloud, encrypt that information to prevent theft of proprietary data.

Don’t forget to get away from time to time

Many of us get so caught up in work from home opportunities, that we throw ourselves into this newfound vocation with abandon. Before you know it, days will be turning into weeks, and weeks into months. It can seem like a never-ending cycle of work, ad nauseam. Scheduling vacation times becomes a top priority with this type of lifestyle. 

If you don’t get away from the work, it owns you and your life will pass you by. As a freelancer, you may be able to grow your business by employing other people to do the work for you while you oversee their activities. As a contracted employee, your work schedule makes provision for vacation time, so be sure to use it!