For Indian women who work from home, this concept comes with a number of unique challenges and advantages. In this article, we look at some of the positive and less-than-positive aspects of work from home jobs, home businesses and enterprises.
THE CHALLENGES OF WORKING FROM HOME
Not Being Taken Seriously
A common challenge most women face when working from home is not having one’s time respected.
“When I first started working from home,” says Sana Khan, a freelance writer, “my friends seemed to have no qualms about dropping in or call during hours I planned to work. It’s not as if they didn’t know that I was working – they felt that I could simply postpone my plans because I was ‘working at home anyway.’”
What started off as a disruptive issue for Sana turned into a bigger problem over time: “I even had a close friend eventually tell me off for growing ‘distant’ from her – she thought I wasn’t paying as much attention to her as I should. The irony was that I spent no less time with her when I worked from home than when I worked at an office.”
Friends and family need to understand that you will be working, even though you’re at home. Additionally, it’s important for them to also understand that your move from working in an office to working from home does not necessarily mean you’ve gone from full-time to part-time work.
Sharing and discussing your plans with them well in advance can help avoid situations like Sana’s.
Less Social Interaction
Working at home does actually involve socialising with fewer people. In an office, you have several colleagues surrounding you during the entire workday, with whom you may have established professional or even personal friendships.
Especially in the early days of working from home, you may miss this social aspect of work. However, this feeling of aloneness can be alleviated to a certain degree by increasing the extent of your personal interaction with clients and customers.
Need To Maintain Self-Discipline
When you work from home, you are essentially your own boss. In an office, a senior or an authority figure holds weight in terms of your motivation to get things done – when working from home, you need to be able to continuously discipline and align yourself to methods that bring yourself your targeted results.
Your self-discipline also needs to be drawn on in the related and all-too-common challenge of balancing your personal and professional needs. Domestic and personal issues may come in the way of your work – you need to deal with this by staying focused.
Time, task, and goal management are crucial in order to separate your work from your personal issues when working from home and to have it stay that way.
Balancing Work and Family Time
Given the convenience of working from home, it’s easy to go overboard with your tasks and activities. Being ambitious and driven is not a negative thing – overextending yourself is. If you find that your working hours are eating up family time, you might need to reconsider the way you work.
“The issue,” says Samaya Dharmaraj, a personal coach who works from home, “is an extremely personal one, though – what I consider a balance between family and work time may not be something you might think would work for you. It works for me because my family and I are on the same page. You need to be in that sort of state with your family no matter what your individual idea of ‘balance’ may be.”
THE ADVANTAGES OF WORKING FROM HOME
Being Able to Save Money
When you work from home, one of the biggest expenses that eat into your income, transportation, dramatically reduces. Whether you commuted previously by your own vehicle or by public transport, that much of your expenses vanish completely.
Not only does this help you save more money, but it also saves you time. The average commuter in Mumbai, for example, may spend anywhere between 2 to 4 hours simply getting from home to work.
You also save money in other ways – lunches at home will cost significantly less than outside or from office cafeterias, for example. All of this adds up over the course of time.
Decreased Stress Levels
“I think the best part about working from home,” says Samaya with a laugh, “is that I no longer have to deal with office politics! It’s incredibly freeing when you don’t have to worry about who’s saying what to whom and then stressing about what effect that’s going to have on your job.”
Rightly said – when working from home, you don’t face the stress of worrying about whether you’re going to be given an increment, promoted, transferred, downsized, or even fired.
You retain your motivation to grow in your profession while being free of the stresses of an often-politicized “performance not satisfactory” report from a colleague or boss.
Flexibility and Better Time Management
Flexibility is by far the biggest advantage to working from home. Women are in a better position to take sabbaticals and return to work without missing out on promotions and opportunities. Short-term leave can also be far more easily accommodated in one’s schedule in such emergencies such as sickness, family issues, and bereavements.
Flexibility exists even on a more day-to-day basis – the number of hours you work, the assignments and projects you take on, and the running of your business can be adjusted against the other priorities in your life much better than would have been possible in an office.
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