Telecommuters used to face accusations of being lazy or slothful, working in their PJ's or sipping a 'beverage' by the pool while filing out TPS reports.

Recent improvements in technology make working from home a legitimate option for people in a variety of industries. There is a new Gallup poll out that shows 43% of employees spend some time doing work 'remotely.' Greater than 60% of employers allow people to do some form of 'teleworking.' Twenty years ago, this number was only 20%. 

Remote employment offers a lot of advantages, especially for families with small children. Parents can spend a lot more time with their family and keep a career on track at the same time. This keeps a regular income coming in and allows them to enjoy the career they prefer. Those multi-hour commutes, tedious meetings in sterile conference rooms and the general office environment itself are things of the past. But working from home can have its own set of problems as well.

Working from home can be an isolating experience. Even if you are an introvert, and typically shun a lot of human to human interaction, it is an important part of a healthy life. Sometimes you can fool yourself into thinking you've had human interaction by simulating it through social media actions and texting family or co-workers. It is important to inject some adult human experiences into your day for your mental health. Scheduling lunch with a friend or spouse, going to the gym, or even just an hour to go shopping can help. Don't let isolation become a stress factor for you.

Oddly enough, working from home can make someone feel guilty about not being at work, or even feel like a less than stellar parent because the kids needs can't be adressed when work demands attention. Stay at home moms have been estimated to put in 40 hour work weeks and 52 hours of overtime. Working this hard, and seeing household tasks not get done, or children's needs not adressed adequately can make someone feel quite guilty and stressed.

Another problem is burn-out. Because you often cannot draw effective boundaries between work time and home time, there is the tendency to feel "Always On" and never really have a chance to unwind and relax. Working from home essentially means you never leave work and you never go home. With more effective devices such as smart phones, tablets and bluetooth ear sets, your ability to multitask constantly is enhanced significantly. At the end of the day, if it ever seems to end, you'll be mentally and physically exhausted. Forcing yourself to 'unplug' from the job even for just a few hours is a very critical activity. But unplugging from the job and staying plugged into house keeping may not really offer much relief. Set aside time every day to be somebody besides an employee, a parent or a spouse. Make time to just be you for just a bit.

Then there's the identity crisis that can occur. In a normal job situation, you 'become' the professional by dressing as one, commuting to the location and performing specialized tasks with other professionals. Remote workers on the other hand may stay in their pajamas for most of the day, then convert to 'chauffeur' mode when it's time to pick up the kids, and back home to be chef for a few hours, and then pick back up the pen or computer before bed. This can cause a loss of both personal and professional identity, leading to more stress and compounding that 'burnt out' feeling.

The remedy for these stress points is to avoid the thing that sometimes was the reason for taking a telecommuting job in the first place. One of the temptations of working from home is the idea that you can just be relaxed and informal all day. In reality, the structure and discipline of a 'normal job' actually contribute positively to our mental and physical well being. Work from home employees will be more productive as employees and as parents if they will enforce some discipline and structure into their routine. Scheduling work time, parent time, play time and spouse time will provide a much needed framework for your psyche and improve productivity.

And speaking of scheduling, don't forget to set aside some time to call us to discuss your insurance needs! We want to be sure you're getting the best rates and that you have the right policies for your needs!