When Work From Home Goes Wrong

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For those of us who have spent our entire careers working in a office, with regular office hours, the concept of work from home seems like some far-off dreamland. A place where there is no daily commute; no packing lunches or forking out for overpriced sandwiches; nobody looking over your shoulder to check that you are actually working rather than zoning out on Facebook.

But some of us have tried the work-from-home gig and come back to the office after a couple of years. For a number of different reasons, some of us have discovered that WFH didn’t really work for us. Here’s a couple of reasons why:

The Problems Associated with Work From Home:

1. Work relationships suffer

Work from home can mean that you go all day every day without speaking to another human being. For even the happiest of introverts amongst us, this can get to be a bit much. While introverts generally require less social interaction in terms of quantity than extraverts, both introverts and extraverts alike feel better for quality social interactions.

When we don’t meet with our teammates regularly, we never get past the dreaded small talk stage—and that makes even work-related interactions feel more tiresome.

2. You get distracted.

At first you may feel like you did at school when you passed notes when the teachers back was turned—you can do what you want when you work from home and there is nobody there to tell you otherwise. Then, having the TV or radio on in the background while you work just becomes habit. Then there is the whole world of the internet and social media to pull and claw at your attention when you are trying to work.

This is a big problem. The more distracted you become, the less productive you are. The less productive you are, the more chance you have of being laid off (to be blunt).

But there is more to it than just being able to please your employer and keep your job. Most of us don’t like it when we slack off. We don’t like it when we are not being effective. We become unhappy, lackluster, and, ironically, bored. When we are working hard on the other hand, we tend to feel more fulfilled and successful. Go figure.

3. Friends and family don’t get it.

Sometimes, no matter how many times you state that you are “working” friends and family think that you being at home equals you being available. If you are constantly being interrupted by your children, or friends popping over for coffee, or your spouse, or the dog, you won’t get the work done.

Or, you do get the work done, but you feel guilty because you had to tell someone to “go away” in order to do so.

4. You miss out.

When you are not in the office with your colleagues, you can miss out on important stuff. Keeping up to date can be difficult, and you might find yourself feeling as if you are missing the point of a lot of online communications because you weren’t in on a primary meeting.

Another less obvious, but arguably as important aspect of “missing out,” is the team camaraderie. Research shows us that words only convey seven percent of any message, and that the rest is delivered via vocal basics such as tone and volume when we speak. Somewhere in there is the aspect of hearing the sound of another human voice that brings us closer to one another.

The Solutions:

1. Conference calls

You can avoid many of the pitfalls of working from home by getting used to joining meetings and checking in via conference calls. You can achieve the “presence” of being in a meeting without actually being there. You’ll therefore be savvy to all the talk that goes into the decisions that your team are making. Even better, you’ll get to contribute.

If you roll your eyes in dread at the thought of a conference call then you are in the right place. MobileDay is an app that makes dialing into conference calls and online meetings ridiculously easy. The app is free to download and will save you a heap of time and bother.

2. Distraction blockers

There are a ton of distraction blocker apps and browser extensions that will help you either limit your time on non-work sites—or ban them completely. Use them.

As yet, there are no apps that block people from knocking on your front door, and there is not an app that will silence the kids. Shame. A frank conversation will have to do instead. Don’t be afraid to tell people “no, I’m working,” and be very firm about it when you do.

Do you work from home? How to you keep up to date with your team?

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