What are the challenges of working from home and how have you overcome them? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
First all the positive sides: you make your own schedule, you are your own boss, you don't have to commute, you are not interrupted all the time, you can think before you answer to people soliciting you, and you can collaborate with people regardless of location.
The more challenging sides: you need to separate work from your personal life, you need to be self-motivated, you do not have a lot of social interaction (at least with colleagues), you do not have the immediate work support environment you might need, and communication with others is mostly asynchronous and "faceless."
Some people cannot motivate themselves and get distracted too easily. This is not my case. But, if this is your case, you can just make an agenda for every day.
My problem is more drawing the border between work and personal life. I cannot say that I have fully resolved this; I am a workaholic kind of person. But there are ways to overcome that. You need to work on a schedule. For instance, you schedule sports or hobby activities at the end of the day to make sure you stop working.
For social interaction, I tend to be over-stimulated by too many discussions with colleagues. So I actually prefer concentrating on work, then grouping my meetings. My students are an exception. I enjoy teaching, so I missed the interaction with students when I was working home full time.
For the supportive working environment, it depends on your professional area. I do not need much. What I missed most was maybe access to a library, but as for the Internet, this is not an issue anymore.
I still do most work communication via email. This does not have the warm feeling of a 2-way instantaneous face-to-face communication, but it is efficient. If you work with colleagues in another time zone, you get a lot done in 24 hours! Once I worked for 3 years with a guy before meeting him. I imagined him older than me, with short hair, a mustache, and a tie. When I met him, I found that he was younger, wearing jeans, no mustache, and he had long hair. A nice lesson ... I now resolve that with occasional Skype meetings!
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