I was recently approached to mentor a new young entrepreneur, which was clearly not the best time to launch just before the pandemic kicked off. I found myself empathising with his concerns, for working from home as I have had experience from two previous occasions to fall back on, even if, it was nothing like this current crisis!
The gig economy and working from home culture, had been gaining traction over the last few years, especially with entrepreneurial businesses and non traditional type roles. The flexibility that it offered, was very appealing for many people and for many reasons.
Before the days of COVID-19 within big organisations, the general idea of working from home seemed more a question of organisational culture than organisational efficiency. The productivity gains from being at home, needed to be balanced with the underlying belief that, when people worked from home, they were not really effective. The belief seemed to be, they were generally doing other things and skiving!
Working in a home-based business, unlike being in an office setting environment allows you to have the benefit of setting your own organisational culture. That culture
is generally a simple one, especially, when you are home alone.
“ Earn or Starve” is the ethos so the focus tends to be purely on the things that generate cash. Priorities become immediate and a “balanced life” can quickly become a “life in the balance.”
Cabin Fever is a real challenge; creating your own specific work space is imperative. It should be a place with a window, that has plenty of light, where you can go and work. “No interruptions, no walking dogs, no household chores, no kids. Anything that breaks your flow state, should be eliminated. Well, unless of course it is planned and scheduled.
Is it tough ? Of course it can be really tough. Self discipline and control over yourself and your emotions is an important trait, which you may need to find deep in yourself, especially at certain times of distraction. Procrastination of completing work tasks versus getting a chore done will need to be managed. Flexibility and better communication at home, might suddenly require a change. One of the toughest things with home based working, is managing relationships, both at home, and with prospective and existing clients.
The talk now of ‘social isolation” has highlighted an issue that has always existed with entrepreneurs who work from home. Isolation when you work for yourself, generally translates into loneliness.
Loneliness in my mind, should be reframed to self reliance, as your need for interaction with others, has different levels of meaning. When people say, loneliness come as a shock, it seems surprising, when, it should actually be, an obvious outcome, with home based business. If you are working for yourself from home or, are now considering starting your own business, then irrespective of the pandemic, you should consider whether loneliness will be an issue for you as an individual. If the answer is yes, then perhaps you should consider building your own coping strategies and if not, then maybe it isn’t for you.
It is often seen to be a cliche, when people talk about having a positive mindset. However, when you are working from home, it may be necessary to develop your own internal frameworks for dealing with setbacks and adversity. These setbacks may appear greater, when you are working from home, especially, if you have a tendency to ruminate on problems. Monitoring your thinking and the way you habitually respond to these setbacks, maybe be useful to you. Setbacks and adversity if not addressed may cause additional stress and sometimes, this can lead to burnout and ongoing mental health issues.
Of course there are no set working hours, they simply become waking hours. The 3am internal meeting with yourself, looking up at the ceiling, when you should be sleeping can become a norm. You will need to ensure you are able to create a balance between the need for creative thinking and or, exhaustion.
A system of working should in my mind be considered, it maybe important for your business and you personally to combat excesses.
Some solutions, could be to focus on connections, social networks, the use of technology, and social media. We all know social media can become an important way to overcome the feeling of loneliness and isolation. When it is used properly, it can also be a critical tool for business efficiency. Of course the other benefit is that the internet has a long tail, which offers a way to generate income in the most efficient way over a long time whilst you are sat at home.
Fear of losing your job, becomes an irrelevance as does managing upwards. There are no requirement for illusionary projections and mind reads, which are often called “internal politics.” There are no requirement to do endless calls about the calls, that end without decisions and doing “busyness” not business.
The creation of strategy decks and presentation decks, are to generate money, rather than, positioning documents, helping people climb the proverbial corporate ladder.
Doing things that are meaningful, rather than meaningless things are subtle shifts of thinking. A passion in doing a job, rather than keeping a job, can be an interesting mindset change especially, when we consider that most people would leave their jobs given the first opportunity to do so. Perhaps working for yourself from home might be tough, yet it has some real benefits when they are embraced.
Fear as we know, is a mental construct, it is a projection into a negative outcome, and as such it is not real. It can be a persistent visitor to the entrepreneur working from home. Its persistency is a gift; it is your unconscious mind telling you to deal with the issue, to take actions and make decisions, before it can become a self-fulling prophecy. At a simple level, generating income to pay the bills and grow the business, will help overcome some of these negative projections, as success, really does drive successful thinking.
Self-directed optimism and inner drive, are as important as cashflow, as they act as fuel to drive the passion that made you start the working from home business in the first place. Without this can you go on to build the life that you want ?
Choices, decisions, and real life outcomes are yours to own! In a time when “ Un-“ is more than just a negative force in adjectives, these are“unprecedented times!” Uncertainty, unpredictability, have always been there as
an entrepreneur working from home. Yet dropping the “Un’- the precedent is set within you, it is called experience and a belief in yourself. Certainty and predictability, are created in the actions that we take.
There are subtle differences in “working at home” and “working from home” and these should be considered more than just syntax.
One is about being on a journey, the other, is merely the place you are temporarily working in. Whether you are working at home or working from home, stay safe and keep moving forward.
Stay Focussed, be Resourceful, remain Optimistic, through a positive Mindset. Build your Haven, finding Oneness with yourself, whilst remaining Motivated and keep Efficiently executing.
Nick Savastano Founder & MD International Coach and Mentor