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Working from Home: Its Success and Pitfalls

Updated on August 6, 2011

Working from home presents some very unique challenges. You may start out with the best of intentions but after a while picking up the stuffed rabbit from your office is accompanied by finding peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in your files. If your home office is accessible to your youngsters or family members who need a little refresher course on the concept of privacy and “space,” you may want to take some safety (and sanity) measures.


Even though one of the reasons you decided to work at home may have been to save on child care, your health, some peace of mind or control over your immediate environment, you still need to consider your office or work space as you would any regular office or work space. Other people in your home, whether children or adults should understand this as well and respect it. If your toddler is consistently running around your office and your housemates constantly barging in your work space while you are busy working, then quite frankly there isn’t much hope of success and it will be doubtful if you will get anything done or be as productive as you wished. You will either need to keep the child constantly busy or you will have to make other arrangements for him/her to be supervised while you work. If it concerns adults moving in, out and around your work space and engaging with you for whatever reason, you will need to make them understand that while you may be at home, they will need to also allow you to be able to do your work effectively by not providing a distraction or disrupting your work. Adults not understanding or respecting your situation are liable to be a barrier to the success of your plans to work from home.

This is one of the biggest challenges that should actually be considered before you decide to work at home. There is a reason why, when you walk into a business office, there are no children running around. To be successful you must always remember that your office may be in your home but it is still an office nonetheless. Here are a few points for consideration:


Points to Consider When Working at Home

Set your work hours accordingly: If you have to start out working during your child’s nap time and at night, then so be it. For most of those working at home, the perfect time is when their spouses and child (ren) are at work and school, respectively. If you have someone else who can mind the child (ren) while you work, that is even better.

Keep the door to your office/work space closed whenever possible: When you are in your office/work space, you are working. Make sure the others in your home know this. It is normal to be interrupted occasionally but the rules you set down at the onset are the ones that will stick. If you are to be disturbed only in an emergency; that doesn’t mean having a family member come in every 5 minutes asking “Where are my socks? Do you have the permit I need? What’s our food for dinner? I’m home now; you need to give me your attention now.”


Designate an office or work space in your home. Unless you live in a studio apartment, it is advisable that you have a designated office or work space within your home. Not only that this helps make it clear to your house-mates that this is your work and area and should be treated and respected as such, it also helps you condition yourself to get work done. Aside from the possible disruption or distraction that family members may pose when working from home, at one time or another you might have to struggle with the challenge of motivating yourself to get work done. The temptation to relax and do something else is prevalent when working in the comfort of your home, and you could be your own worst enemy. That is why it is a bad idea to situate your work space inside your bedroom, too much temptation. By having a designated area in another part of your home, you also in effect help condition yourself to make a conscious effort to go get your work done.

Have the same work ethic for yourself that you would if you were working out of the home. Working at home can be wonderful and rewarding, even with occasional life interruptions, but it takes a lot of dedication. If you would not be talking to your best friend all day on the phone in an office, then don’t do it in your home office. You don’t disturb your spouses when they’re out working and you deserve that much respect as well.

Work at home mothers or dads have had to incorporate business and home since the concept started, and it really is no different than work outside the home that a person has to do. So long as you try to keep your office or work space more of an office and less of an extension of your home, you are going to be much better able to concentrate and get the job done.

Home Office, Sendai, Japan
Home Office, Sendai, Japan | Source

Why Do People Succeed and Fail at Working from Home


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    • moiragallaga profile image

      Moira Garcia Gallaga 6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Bruzzbuzz, for me the separate space is a must. Too many distractions if my work space isn't configured for the sole purpose of doing work. That's why I mentioned in my hub that locating your home office in your bedroom is a bad idea. Perhaps it's fine for others, but it won't work for me. Thanks for dropping by and sharing a comment.

    • moiragallaga profile image

      Moira Garcia Gallaga 6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you for your comments phdast7. Looks like your situation is most ideal. It will take a while yet for me to get to the point where I no longer have to deal with queries about where their socks are or what's for dinner, though it isn't as frequent as before. I mentioned that my husband and our son have learned to respect my space and time, but there are a few occasions when they forget. Otherwise, we've been able to work things out.

    • bruzzbuzz profile image

      bruzzbuzz 6 years ago from Texas , USA

      The separate space for your office is a great idea. Sitting on the couch can easily take your mind away from the task at hand.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Good Hub, Good advice. To work from home requires a lot of structure and discipline. I am fortunate to have a 50/50 situation.

      I spend 25 hours a week on campus teaching classes and attending meetings. But I also spend 25 hours a week working from home reading, preparing lectures, grading papers, writing reports.

      It works well for me, but when I began my children were in their late teens and pretty self sufficient. Now, it is just me and the cats and they never ask where their socks are or whats for dinner. :)

    • moiragallaga profile image

      Moira Garcia Gallaga 6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thanks prairieprincess, I'm glad you found the hub useful. The biggest challenge is getting to let your family or housemates understand, it will take a while. With me, it took constant dialogue and a little rant here and there until my husband and son finally understood and have been quite considerate afterward about respecting my workspace and when I am working in it. In a sense, it's not only us adjusting to the situation of working at home, they need to adjust to your new situation too.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 6 years ago from Canada

      Moira, this is excellent advice. It is such a challenge to work from home and not have disturbances. This is something I find hard to do ... to not let myself be called away by someone needing something somewhere. I will try better to heed your advice!