The luxury and the agony of working from Home!
For years, I held a demanding hotel job that saw me clock in time from 8 AM to 10 PM on most days. If I left office at 7 PM, I would have my Boss joke that I was taking a half day.
As full-time hoteliers we go through a grueling schedule. But now, as a full-time Hospitality Industry Watcher and Writer, I feel that my schedule is no less grinding.
The only difference is that a part of my home turf is also my office space. Is that an easy peasy work life or do we still walk the tightrope? Let's take a look.
Just the other day, I got off from late night binge television viewing, shut off the Idiot Box and walked over to the designated area, switched on the PC and began working at 4 o'clock in the morning.
There are days when, still donned in my PJs, I will work through the night, and wrap up work at say about eight in the morning, only to sneak under the sheets and sleep till mid day.
I can take a day off on Wednesday or any other day of my choice, right in the middle of the week. Or, to finish some steep deadlines, I may have to push myself to work long, stretched hours over the weekend.
My daily commute to work entails, walking from one area of the house to another with a mug of coffee in hand. Welcome to the pleasures and privileges of working from SOHO (Small Office, Home Office)!
But not everything is a walk around the park, smelling roses and sniffing the hot brew to stimulate the already relaxed senses!
Working from home brings its own bandwagon of battles. There are a trillion dragons to slay when you are your own boss.
You need to keep yourself in the reckoning in face of old and new competition, you have to run at double speed just to stay stable in the same place, and you have to learn to wade smoothly and calmly through the choppy waters of insecure and uncertain finances (with no security blanket of a guaranteed monthly paycheck) just to keep your ship afloat!
So, is it easy or tough to work from home?
It is an extremely tough decision to decide to leave one's place in the corporate matrix and go on one's own. A lot of things are at stake - your position on the corporate ladder, your movement up on the ladder to get closer to the Corner Office, the perquisites that come with your position and the host of privileges.
Also, there is the two-pronged matter of the financials. As most people who have bitten the bait of being their own bosses will tell you, one must be very open to the eventuality that you will be earning far less than when you worked for a Company. There are no bonuses, travel or entertainment allowances, HRA, Mediclaim and the like.
The second part is that when you decide to go on your own, you will have to make the initial investment for setting up a Home Office, complete with a tiny staff, should your work demand so.
When you are working with a Corporate, your designation there, plus the profile of the Company makes it easier for you to establish stronger business relationships and wider networks.
When you decide to work from home, you need to start all over again and build that network from ground zero.
In this 'you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours world,' you will soon realize that a clutch of erstwhile business "friends" or "great contacts" were actually closer to the brand you represented than you and will let you know their leaning fast enough.
On the flip side, you have the opportunity to deliver more, pack so much more in your day. You also have the advantage of not being pulled into office politics and shenanigans and pointless meetings, therefore you can keep a positive and more productive milieu around yourself.
Working from home, if you do not mind a smaller pay packet (until the time your work has begun generating a steady income), brings in the best work-life balance. From small kids to pet children to aging parents, you get to be hands on for them much more than if you worked for somebody else.
Also, since you work from home and save the time on commuting and can carry on the work in a limitless way into the wee hours or turnaround your schedule to say, even start a work day at 3 AM when the pressures build up; you have a lot more time on your hands to follow your other passions and pursuits bringing in greater pleasure and satisfaction to your life.
There are, however, some basics that you must keep in mind while working from home!
- Ear mark a sacrosanct area that draws a boundary for your work space - it could be one section of the house or an offsite area that you visit every day or even a part of your room replete with your desk and all the necessary paraphernalia.
- Draw up a timeline on how you want to intertwine your house responsibilities with your professional work. Since you work from home, the lines are bound to get blurred and it is up to you to demarcate and set internal checks.
- While you have the luxury of working even in your night clothes, but it makes sense to take the trouble of dressing and showing up at your desk. It helps channelize your mindset, keeping it more professional and less lackadaisical.
- When you work from home and get into the seamless time zone, remind yourself to adhere to a schedule, do not eat at your desk, do not shortchange your exercise regimen, do not cut down on your outside meetings as and when your work demands.
- Invest in things / technology that will help you deliver in the most efficient manner. Do not scrounge on that.
- Work out a good Profit Protection Plan to ensure healthier returns.
- Do not compromise on your work ethics or your expectation of your own self. Sound self-esteem plays a big part in binding your Brand value.
- Do not let prospective clients ride roughshod over you, disregard your experience and expertise and try to get away by paying you little or not paying you at all.
When you don't have a Corporate Umbrella over you, many people think they are doing a favour by giving an assignment or project to a self-employed person.
Follow the following simple tips to make your SOHO decision a Success!
- When you begin working from home, do not treat it as an extension of a hobby. Accord it the same respect and value you would to a Corporate job.
- Plan ahead for a revenue model. It is a JOB that you are professionally trained for and are engaged in. It must pay your bills.
- Working from home brings in the biggest facet of Flexi hours; but you must learn to bring a sense of decorum and discipline. Stick to a schedule, start your work day early, minimize interference from extraneous factors including family members.
- Endeavour to deliver your 100% each day. Without the nudges of HR or team competition or Appraisals, it is all up to you now to ensure that you do not drop the ball of optimal deliverability and quality of work.
- Put enough thought into Brand Identity aspects - make sure that your business card, brochure, letterheads, website etc. represent your Brand Philosophy in the best way possible.
- Build up on your equity by doing a great job for existing clients so that they would become your reference with ease and willingness.
If you too work from a Home Office, do share your tips and trials for minimizing setbacks and compounding gains!
Meanwhile, the clock on the computer reads 4:06 AM. I am calling it a day, after a productive night of some research work, some light reading and one important feature piece finished off to satisfaction.
L. Aruna Dhir