Before my life as a Virtual Assistant, I spent my day surrounded by lots and lots of people. As a Retail Store Manager, I had constant interaction with staff and customers and that was a big part of why I loved my job so much.
When I decided to become a VA 18-months ago, my working environment changed significantly. I went from being around people pretty much all day to being completely alone at times. This sudden change felt daunting, but I know I’m not alone in feeling like this. More than 1.54 million people work from home and many feel lonely, miss the daily interaction and the coffee break chat with their colleagues. But, it’s not all doom and gloom.
On the contrary, there are many benefits to working from home. Let’s take a look.
- If I don’t want to spend time and effort putting my makeup on, I don’t have to. I also don’t have to worry about buying new clothes for the office and dressing smartly every day. This is all great unless a client requests an impromptu video call, but even then, I can quickly get dressed and still keep my slippers on.
- I don’t have to worry about the dreaded daily commute, saving me both time and money. I can start my day with a fresh head and be at my desk within a minute.
- My schedule is flexible so I can choose from wherever and whenever I want to work. I can use my home office, relax in a coffee shop or make the most of the outdoors in the Summer.
- As a home-based worker fitting in a quick check-up at the dentist mid-week is easy. I don’t need to ask for anyone’s permission.
- I can do the school run and I don’t feel pressured to be at my desk at a certain time. I’m not a pet owner but if I was, I would see it as a huge benefit.
- I have the freedom to set my structure for the day. If I want to work from 7 am to 2 pm and have the rest of the day off I can. Similarly, if I want to work in the evenings or at weekends I can.
- I can focus solely on client work and not be distracted by office politics or noisy colleagues.
Now let’s take a look at the other side of the coin, at some of the drawbacks of working from home:
- Household chores can quickly and easily become distractions. It is like the washing is shouting your name!
- There’s the constant pull to always be working and not switch off.
- There’s less opportunity to quickly bounce ideas off someone.
- You can often feel lonely and not interact with anyone all-day.
- There’s no Christmas party to look forward to, although I was lucky enough to be invited to two last year by lovely clients.
- You could become a local parcel delivery office for your street as they know you’re ‘in’.
If you’re thinking about working from home, here are some top tips that I now use to make it work for me.
- Plan to spend time out of the office each week. Even if it’s just one day per week. There are lots of great co-working spaces like The Business Terrace and Dragon Coworking popping up. Mark these days clearly in your calendar. You never know who you might meet that could benefit your business and vice versa. I meet some great businesses in these locations which benefit me and my clients. Alternatively, attend a networking event and push yourself out of your comfort zone.
- Set clear boundaries for your day including start and finish times and switch off in the evening by doing something completely non-work related.
- Set up a comfortable and functional workspace. Ensure the furniture is ergonomic and that equipment is up to date and reliable.
- Maintain self-care. This can be easily neglected when we’re home all day. Try to do small things each day to look after yourself. Feed your brain with healthy snacks and drink water regularly. Take short breaks frequently, enjoy lunch outside in the fresh air or listen to some music.
- Plan to work when your productivity is highest. It doesn’t matter if that’s the morning, afternoon or evening, just pick the time that is best for you.
Ultimately working from home is what you make it! Nothing is perfect all of the time, but we’re lucky if we have the opportunity to make our own choices.