For jobs that don't absolutely require face-to-face interaction, working from home is far more productive than traditional office environment and also tend to make employees happier and less stressed. The reasons: no commute time, more privacy, fewer interruptions, and control over your schedule.

I know a little bit about working from home because, aside from the odd business trip or conference, I've exclusively worked from home since 1996. It's literally been decades since I've even considered taking a regular job, so I suppose you could say that I've successfully made the transition.

I've also watched numerous colleagues and friends attempt full-time work-from-home, with mixed results. When they try to crossover to the lifestyle, they often discover that working from home is challenging in ways they don't expect.

Those challenges include staying focused without outside supervision, innumerable temptations to goof off (videogames, Netflix, etc.), and the nearness of a fully stocked kitchen. A former boss of mine went full-time work-from-home and gained 50 pounds in a single year.

By far the biggest challenge of working from home, though, is the lack of social contact. Let's face it: it's fun to bat stuff around and generally hang out with people who share a common interest, in this case the work you're collectively doing. Indeed, employees hate the open plan office because it suppresses conversations and reduces collaboration.

Lack of social contact can turn pretty quickly into loneliness. One guy I worked with in corporate marketing was basically a professional meeting-goer. When he tried to go freelance, he didn't know what to do with himself. He got so blue that he accepted an office job for which he was overqualified just to be around people again.

So, if you're going to succeed and get the full benefit of working from home full-time, you'll need to overcome the tendency toward loneliness and learn to enjoy your own company. Here's how:

  1. Network more frequently. Most people neglect their business connections until they need something. Contacting former colleagues or people you've worked with to catch up on what THEY are doing is a great way to beat loneliness and build out your network. Warning: don't call people more than once or twice; they'll start seeing you as a pest.
  2. Become a coffee shop habitue. With an Internet connect, there's really not much that you can't get done at a coffee shop, which at least creates the feeling of being surrounded by colleagues. Two limitations: you can't make calls and you can end up spending a lot of money on pastries and croissandwiches.
  3. Consider a co-working arrangement. I did some co-working at the start of my work-from-home life (yes, such places existed back then) and I can see the attractions. However, you probably won't really share interests with the other people around you and the likelihood they'll be helpful to your business is probably pretty small. So co-working might be a bit expensive for what you're getting out of it.
  4. Activities that require social interaction. When I went work-from-home, I got more serious about martial arts, took a class at a local community college, started doing karaoke one night a week, and after a while, I made some friends--lifelong ones, in fact. And I had something in common with them that was more interesting than the numbers from the latest advertising campaign.
  5. Wait it out. Eventually, you'll learn to enjoy your own company and you won't need to go to coffee shops or use the telephone as a crutch. Once you've made the transition, you'll find that you'll not just get more done in a much shorter amount of time, you'll end up enjoying your work more than when you were surrounded by colleagues.
Published on: Mar 9, 2019
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