Why I No Longer Work from Home

If you have ever built a business ground up, online or offline, you probably know that there is a point (or, there are points) where things begin to expand slightly faster than is really comfortable, but still not quite as quickly as you would really like them to.

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It’s the last day of February. I’ve promised myself at least not to let a month go by (a calendar month that is) without writing a post on this blog. So when I realized today was my last chance to write a post dated in February, I decided I’d better start writing.

Over the past five months, I have been building my online business at a much faster rate. As you know, if you are a regular reader of my blog, this is one of the reasons my posts have begun to come much fewer and further between. I have changed several of my long-term strategies, and organized a new business model which is not only turning out to be far more effective, but is taking off at a rate that is almost hard to keep up with.  Almost, but not quite.

If you have ever built a business ground up, online or offline, you probably know that there is a point (or, there are points) where things begin to expand slightly faster than is really comfortable, but still not quite as quickly as you would really like them to. You find yourself juggling websites, projects, clients, sales, (whatever applies); while at the same time juggling the establishment of your business.  That means finding, selecting, hiring and training new assistants.  That means building furniture concurrent to taking on new clients.  That means business registrations, legal basics, and getting the printer to work.

I like the video above because he points out an important fact.  Whether success is overnight or not, I think it remains true that successful people don’t generally have luck fall into their laps and sign them a million dollar check.  They don’t usually spend a lot of time in front of the TV or have tons of extra time to socialize at parties – unless there is a good reason for said socialization.  At least not in the beginning, not while a new business or enterprise is taking off.  People who succeed are willing to work for their success, are willing to miss Friday night movies, are willing to work longer hours than they are immediately being paid for – and are willing to accept minor failures if they occur; streamline, re-strategize, and keep on going.

As my online business and income has expanded, I have become increasingly aware of one thing.

“Work from Home” isn’t always as great as it sounds in the ads.

Recently I moved into a new office.  That probably sounds ironic at first glance – a person works online, earns all their income on the internet, yet has to rent an office 15 minutes away from home.  In my case, a large element of the problem is that I can not get broadband at home.  I have considered moving but have finally decided against it, at least for now, for reasons beyond the scope of this blog.

However there is more to it than that.  Even if you work online, working at home may or may not be ideal for you.

Now, don’t take this wrong.  Some people want to or have to stay at home, for example, to be with children.  And for some people, the ability to work from home is is one of their main reasons for wanting to work online.  In many cases, this is completely valid.

Furthermore, when one is first building up an online business as a part time activity, it is almost a given that they would be working from home.  Unless of course you happen to be a globe-hopping hitch hiker who carries a laptop in a backpack and works from internet cafes, hostel lobbies, or camp ground WiFi’s.  Or unless perhaps you live in a rain forest with a satellite internet connection.

But, especially as your business expands and you begin to generate a steady and dependable online income, there are factors to take into account regarding the “Work from Home” business model.

I can summarize these into a few items:

  1. Distraction
  2. Discipline
  3. Schedule

Distractions: The distractions in the home environment may or may not outweigh the benefits of working there.  I know that some internet marketers who work from home have encountered difficulties with the distractions inherent to home life.  Your cat crawls onto your keyboard and falls asleep in the most adorable fashion which you don’t want to disturb.  Children want attention. The spouse knocks on the door or comes to give you an innocent hug while you are making a video or concentrating on writing your next blog post, and you lose you whole train of thought.  You are working in the living room and someone wants to watch the news.

Whether they be cats, kids, spouses, TVs, or kitchens, the distractions of a home environment may detract more from your overall productivity than you realize.

I know some internet marketers will even take a few days away from home, perhaps on a mini “working vacation,” just to get lots of work done.

It may be worthwhile for you to set up an office away from home, or at least more separated from the rest of your daily household activity.  Maybe it means moving from the living room to the bedroom or from the bedroom to the closet.  Maybe it’s setting up a cabin on the hill, or converting the backyard shed into an office.

Discipline: When you work at home it is easy to intertwine your work life with your personal life.  You leave the computer “for a moment” to grab a coffee and the next thing you know you are wrapped up in chit-chat with a family member.

Conversely, the weekend may arrive and you know you should spend time with your family, but you wind up getting wrapped up with a new website you are working on.

When everything is a mish-mash, it can be more difficult to draw the line between work and personal life.  When your work is done in a separate area, such as an office, it is much easier to discipline yourself to focus on work while you are at the office, and focus on personal matters when you are not.

Schedule – It becomes far easier to maintain and control an exact work schedule when your personal life and work life are separate.  You wake up at a certain time, work at your office till a certain time, come home at a certain time.  You allocate a certain amount of time to work, and a certain amount of time to family and personal matters.  This way you make sure you handle both and they don’t clash.  This probably works far better then waking up, working in PJs for an hour, going to breakfast, chatting, going back to work, watering the plants, going back to work, answering the phone, etc.

An office environment gives you a distraction-free space which is geared 100% toward work, where you can possibly meet clients more easily (especially if your home is not in town and your office is), and which is free of the distractions in a home environment.  It allows you to keep discipline and boundaries between work and personal life, and to follow a proper schedule.

The commute and extra expense involved in keeping a separate office may or may not outweigh the distraction.  In other words, there are pros and cons.   And then again, you may live alone and have minimal distractions.

But if you are looking at working online as a long-term business model, these are things to consider.

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31 Responses to “Why I No Longer Work from Home”

  1. Forest
    March 1, 2010 at 12:25 am #

    I totally understand where you are coming from here. I used to go into an office when freelancing in London, even though I could work at home.

    In my current business I work at home or in cafes, often I work a little better in the cafe but have been ok with home stuff… Only issue I have is being in Egypt we keep getting visitors. Our current visitor is here for 3 months…. Off to the pyramids today when I should be building my niche sites and getting some new client work!
    .-= Forest´s last blog ..Get Over The Fear Of Cooking At Home… =-.

  2. Dave Doolin
    March 1, 2010 at 1:02 am #

    I cannot *wait* until I can get an office. I’ve been working from home about 4 years now, and I’m liking it less and less. If I’m at home, I’m working. And that’s getting annoying.

    Funny how I missed posting this month on There Is No Box, after my little harangue a while back. I’ll post there twice in March.

    If you only wrote once a month, but you wrote something as good as this, that would be pretty good indeed.
    .-= Dave Doolin´s last blog ..How a 9 Day Denial of Service Attack Affected Blog Traffic =-.

  3. Flippa Chick
    March 1, 2010 at 8:25 am #

    Great post! I can attest to needing to finding a balance — or some degrees of separation from home and office. Fortunately, I was able to move into a new home which already had an office space carved out for me.

    I’ve considered renting out an office space at one point, however, the distractions that are present in my home (e.g. family members, children, loud televisions, etc) are not present so if my lack of productivity can be blamed on anything — it has to be me.

  4. Anna
    March 2, 2010 at 10:48 am #

    @Flippa Chick – Thank you for your comment! Made me laugh. Very true, sometimes the distraction is what’s looking at you in the mirror 🙂

  5. Anna
    March 2, 2010 at 10:50 am #

    @Dave – Funny we feel so similarly about this. Factually, I would never have gone looking for an office if I had had broadband at home. But now that I do have an office, I am starting to get a feel for the other benefits. It is so worthwhile. Plus my husband is making custom furniture for me and it is BEAUTIFUL. Very peaceful here, very quiet, and no qualms or distractions about “I wonder if I should really be doing the dishes …”

  6. Anna
    March 2, 2010 at 10:53 am #

    @Forest – That is interesting. I have done a LOT of work from cafes. Actually for a couple of months I practically lived in a cafe, was there 9-6, 5 days a week. In the beginning I felt it was the easiest place for me to work, still far less distracting than at home. But since I graduated to my office, there is just no comparison. I had no idea how distracting the environment was until I found one that was even less distracting.

    Ironic that you would have a hard time “getting away from it all” in Egypt. You would think that your social life would be far behind and that you would be left in peace to get on with business! But, NO …. lol. Poor Forest. But I am sure it will wear out and everyone else will get back to work as well!

  7. Forest
    March 2, 2010 at 1:26 pm #

    Thanks Anna, I do like having visitors though 🙂

    The cafe thing is more because I plug myself into the headphones and I don’t have things like needing to put washing in, cleaning a dusty floor etc etc…. Also I tend to not eat while out but am always running to the fridge at home!
    .-= Forest´s last blog ..Get Over The Fear Of Cooking At Home… =-.

  8. Anna
    March 2, 2010 at 1:31 pm #

    @Forest – Glad you are at least having fun!

    I agree fully on those aspects of Cafe Living. Lol. I have done so much of it you would not believe. I mean, if I show up at 9:05 the manager says “you’re late!”

    So I think it is way better than working from home, for the same reasons you mention! I know exactly what you mean about the laundry, the floor, and the kitchen 🙂

  9. sally
    March 3, 2010 at 10:03 am #

    I have to admit I am ready to make a change and stop working at home. A marriage nine months ago has given me a new family but since I do not have set hours they think I am free to do whatever they want when it is needed.

  10. Anna
    March 3, 2010 at 10:12 am #

    Oh, that is interesting. I suppose someone who is used to having set hours and a boss might not fully realize that work either gets done, or it doesn’t get done – scheduled or otherwise. I can see how it could be easy for them to overlook, and frustrating for you!

  11. computer virtualization
    March 5, 2010 at 2:01 am #

    Working from home is not so easy as many factors behind this. I think the most important factor is environment. We need a professional environment for getting motivated regularly. At home there are a lots of rests and rests. We are more careless at homes. So, a better productivity cannot be gained from home. We get easily customized, whatever be the problem.
    .-= computer virtualization´s last blog ..How to Virtualise your Disaster Recovery – and Why is it Mission Critical? =-.

  12. PPT Search Engine
    March 5, 2010 at 2:58 am #

    i don’t think so.
    Working at home is also a good opinon for me.
    Even i don’t earn to much at home but i really happy be sitting and building new website.

  13. Davin Ogden
    March 9, 2010 at 5:31 pm #

    Hey there Anna,

    That’s a great post, and I’m excited for you with your new office. Sounds awesome! My bedroom is my office..I wake up and work is only about 4 steps away from the bed. Perhaps someday I’ll consider an office or something along those lines. But, the commute this way is real easy!

    Anyway, I hope you don’t mind, but, I placed a link to your blog, from my new blog. Had to kill the other one. It was giving me to many problems.

    I have you featured as an inspiring person to anyone wanting to work online full time..hope you don’t mind. You rotate in the section called “Inspiring People”. There isn’t much on the new blog yet, but, it will come.

    Hope you have been well, and please take care of yourself.

    Davin
    .-= Davin Ogden´s last blog ..Affiliate Internet Marketing – Achieve Your Dreams Faster =-.

  14. Anna
    March 9, 2010 at 5:43 pm #

    Hi Davin, great to hear from you! Yes, my office is great. We needed a break so we just drove to the beach for a few minutes and walked around in the rainy sand – back to work now.

    Of course I don’t mind you featuring me – Thank you!

    Working from a bedroom has it’s good points, that’s for sure. The commute being one of them. Personally I don’t have a lot of choice at the moment because I simply can not get a real internet connection at home, the best is satellite, and you don’t run a business that way. But working from my office has plenty of other benefits and actually since the day I moved my business has expanded very fast – a bit too fast, I’m racing to keep up. But it’s going well. Thanks for stopping by, I’ll fix my link to your new blog. Hope to see more of you in the future 🙂

  15. Yaro
    March 14, 2010 at 3:34 am #

    Hi Anna,

    I’ve considered getting an office so many times for so many different reasons, but I’ve yet to do it and I don’t expect I will as long as I do what I do now.

    If I was like you and could not get broadband at home then I’d probably get an office too, you can’t run an online business without it.

    I’m lucky that I’m still in a position to leverage one core skill – my writing – and my previous efforts in the products I’ve created, which don’t require extensive use of staff to keep running.

    Simplicity is my friend 🙂

    Keep up the good work and at some point I’ll have to interview you on my podcast so I can learn more about what you do.

    Yaro
    .-= Yaro´s last blog ..Horizontal Or Vertical Business Models: Which Is Right For You? =-.

  16. Anna
    March 14, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

    Dear Yaro.

    Thank for your visit and your comment, it was a very nice surprise to see you here this morning 🙂

    If I had a business model such as yours (which I admire immensely), and a broadband connection at home, I don’t think I would have ever passed the stage of simply considering getting a separate office, but then never really doing so. 🙂 I agree with you – simplicity is key, and if a home office is workable, then it is workable!

    Like you said, working online without broadband is just not practical, and I learned that the long and hard way. At one point it looked like we would have to move to the city, where I could have a decent connection from home. I wasn’t looking forward to living in the city. Having the office here allows me to continue living in the forest, and working from a quiet beach town on the Oregon coast. It’s really good to be in such a distraction-free environment, off the crossroads, where I can focus on the work at hand. And if I need a break from the screen, the beach and dunes are two minutes away.

    I deal with a lot of people through out my day – clients, assistants, outsourcers, etc. Though I might have continued working from home if I could have, I have to say that there are a lot of side benefits to having a separate work place – besides just the fast internet connection! But if I had a different type of online business that might not be the case.

    Thanks again for stopping by – and yes, I would love to do an interview some time 🙂

  17. Cary Bergeron
    March 18, 2010 at 8:38 pm #

    Great post and I couldn’t agree more.

    I recently moved out of the home office and into a professional park and wow it is great. I completely agree about the distractions and with a new baby it was even tougher to get things done.

    Working part time in the home office did the trick for a while but I felt that in order to expand the business I had to take the next step.

    It’s not for everyone but it allows me to feel more professional and like I’m actually contributing to society lol.

  18. Dan from Web Design Blog
    March 19, 2010 at 11:24 am #

    Working from home always brings in that struggle between when does work end and home life begin. You have to strive to make a balance between the two.

  19. Alphabetix
    March 25, 2010 at 7:00 pm #

    Working from home can be really challenging. We have had to make sure we set boundaries about when the work day begins and ends. I find that work trickles into our everyday lives more than our lives trickle into work.

  20. Richard@How To Videos
    March 27, 2010 at 11:29 am #

    Anna,

    A friend who was visiting just asked me about this…”How can you work from home all the time?”

    She perfectly illustrated why it can be difficult. It’s like your home does not count as an office and people do not think that you are really working. Thus, interruptions are somehow not seen that way.

    Still working from home…but thinking of following your advice!

    Richard

  21. prayzie
    March 28, 2010 at 8:24 am #

    One good thing about working at home is that you can have a quick nap if you’re really tired and sleepy and you can also save on office space and other facilities.
    However if you have online business and have some employees working at home you’ll have difficulty of managing home workers and monitoring performance.

  22. Anna
    April 7, 2010 at 12:34 pm #

    @Cary – A professional park? Can you expound?

    You are right, it is not for everyone. If I move I will probably wind up setting up a home office again. But I can’t say for sure – it is more professional, and more separate. And if you have walk-in clients, or locals who want to meet you in person, it’s more workable.

    I’ve also noticed some people seem to take you more seriously when you aren’t working from home – whether that makes any sense or not.

  23. Anna
    April 7, 2010 at 12:34 pm #

    @Dan – I agree.

  24. Anna
    April 7, 2010 at 12:36 pm #

    @Alphabetix –

    I find that work trickles into our everyday lives more than our lives trickle into work.

    Yep, same here!

  25. Anna
    April 7, 2010 at 12:37 pm #

    @Richard –

    Exactly. Interruptions aren’t really interruptions and if you try to avoid them, you feel like you are being rude!

  26. Anna
    April 7, 2010 at 12:37 pm #

    @prayzie – yes, or one could always bring a sleeping bag to work.

  27. Cary Bergeron
    April 8, 2010 at 8:57 am #

    A professional park is just an office park really. Usually consists of 2+ buildings all with “Professional” based companies like doctors, lawyers, accountants and such.

    It gives customers/clients a more professional feel than it would working out of your house.

  28. Anna
    April 15, 2010 at 4:20 pm #

    @Cary – Oh – kind of like a group of office buildings/spaces for rent? That makes sense then. I’m on the second floor of a building with several offices and stores, all rented out. I suppose that is somewhat similar.

  29. Dragon Blogger
    May 10, 2010 at 7:41 pm #

    Face time is so important for networking, I work at home for my day job and for my blogging hobby, so I actually rarely ever leave my house or general area except for shopping or going to the movies, going out to eat…etc. This tends to leave me feeling isolated from my work peers and limits my social networking (in person). But my advantage is I am always around and see my kids all the time instead of somebody having to work away from the house who may only see their kids one or two hours a day.

  30. Investment Yogi
    July 27, 2010 at 4:55 am #

    Working from home has one particular adavantage over all other, you have your own control over time and its deadlines!

  31. Rick
    July 29, 2010 at 3:16 pm #

    Having an office away from home is good for the reasons already mentioned. It helps to separate your work life and home life. And as your business grows, it is more professional to entertain clients in an office than in your home.

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