Should contractors work from home?

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We know we say this a lot, but contractors really do enjoy a lot of perks – one of which being the opportunity to ditch the office and work from home.

While many in permanent employment would see this as the holy grail of work/life balance, it can actually cause a bit of a dilemma for contractors. On one hand you get to spend more time with the family in your own surroundings, however you also could find yourself at risk of distraction.

If you’re lucky enough to choose whether you’re office-based or not, here are a few points to consider when deciding where to work.

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Ditching the office means you can avoid the dreaded commute and get on with the daily grind from the comfort of your own home – saving you both time and money. Admit it, the thought of walking no more than ten feet to your day job sounds appealing, doesn’t it?

Not only do you get to use your own facilities, but you can also organise your life more easily. No longer would you have to trudge down to the depot to pick up a parcel you missed, or struggle to deal with other companies that believe the working day is just 9-5.

That being said, you could also find yourself at risk of being seen as ‘available’ to do other things such as household chores while you’re supposed to be working. While it’s always good to be efficient and make use of your presence in the house, you shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that you’re there to do a job.

You’ll NEED an office

So how can you save yourself from unwanted distractions? Almost all contractors who work from home will swear by the need to have your own dedicated area to carry out your duties.

It’s important to have your own organised space, shut away from everyone else – so sitting down at the kitchen table is a definite no-go. Make sure that it’s YOUR space by keeping it off limits to other people when you’re using it.

Set ground rules that say you can’t be disturbed during working hours and make sure you stick to them. If other people realise that your work time is sacred, they’re likely to leave you alone.

You should also keep your office free from clutter and know your distraction threshold. While some people can’t function without a bit of background noise, it’s important not to take it too far and waste several hours watching TV.

Extra scrutiny

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It might be 2016, but some companies are still lagging behind the times when it comes to working from home. There’s still an air of mistrust when it comes to those who shun the traditional office setup, with people often viewing them as lazy.

After all, clients will want to make sure they’re getting their money’s worth, so you might find that they contact you more than they would if you were in the office. If this happens, try and respond to them as promptly as you can so they know you’re on the job.

Don’t be a hermit

While it’s great to escape the office and work with no outside distractions, there is a risk of taking things too far and becoming a social recluse. Try to take regular breaks and get as much fresh air as you can so that you’re alert at all times.

Locking yourself away for hours on end could also turn you into a bit of a workaholic, so it’s important not to lose sight of why you became a contractor in the first place.  If you find yourself working all hours, then you’re not fully enjoying the freedom on offer.

Taking on too much could put you at risk of burning out and not completing the project to the best of your ability – meaning both you and the client loses out. Remember to keep everything in moderation and take the time to enjoy the fruits of your labour. After all, you’ve earned them!

Over to you

Are you a contractor? How do you decide where to work on your assignment? Are you an office advocate or do you prefer your own space? Let us know on Twitter, or leave a comment below.

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