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Working at Home : The Dream and the Reality

By Stephen Bucaro
Posted Monday, December 13, 2004

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Everyone dreams of working at home. No sitting in traffic breathing car exhaust. Wake up and start work when ever you choose. Work in your pajamas. Do only interesting tasks that you enjoy. Take a break whenever you feel like it. Sounds too good to be true.

The reality is that the first thing many people who work at home want is to earn enough money to rent an office away from home.

Why? Because when you work at home, you are always at work. Your work hours may end at 5:00, but your computer, your desk, and all those uncompleted tasks are always there. Your home becomes the focal point of the problems and stress of work.

Your boss is not there to hover over you, but guess what? You now have an even more stern taskmaster lording over your every moment - yourself. To be successful working at home you have to have self discipline, make your own schedule, and stay focused.

Although you can dress loose and casual, you probably don't want to work in your pajamas. In fact, a morning ritual where you "get dressed for work" may be just what you need to motivate yourself to begin work.

Have your own business? Every business has some tasks that are challenging and interesting, and some that are boring and tedious. If you work at home alone in your own business, guess who has to do the boring and tedious tasks.

Are you a telecommuter? When you work at the company's office, everyone can see and understand why you where unable to accomplish much. It's the result of normal organizational disorganization and disruption. But when you work at home, your boss and coworkers think everything goes smoothly. If you don't complete tasks on time, it's not because you had to work through complications and problems, it's because you spent the day watching soap operas on TV.

Although you may attend some of the meetings at work, everyone knows the real organizational communications happens at water cooler gossip sessions. And guess who's getting blamed for all the departments screw-ups and for the work being behind schedule. The person who's not there to defend themself.

It's not only your boss and coworkers that think you're not working, but your family and friends too. If you are at home, you are not really working, so you have plenty of time to do chores, run errands, babysit, and chat with visitors.

Although you might have some flexibility in work hours, you will find that maintaining a regular schedule and routine is very important for your productivity. It provides predictability to your friends and family so they understand when you can be approached and when you may not be interrupted.

Everyone dreams of working at home, but a large percentage of those who try don't succeed. Why do they fail? Because working at home requires a job suited for working at home, a home suited for working in, a worker with strong self discipline, and a boss who knows how to manage telecommuting employees effectively. Unfortunately, this is a rare combination.

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