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The Pros And Cons About Working From Home That No One Will Tell You, So I Will

The Pros And Cons About Working From Home That No One Will Tell You, So I Will

It’s nice to be able to work from home while wearing comfortable pajamas, but it’s also awfully easy to get lonely. If you’re thinking about becoming a freelancer (or already are one), you might enjoy these stories that illustrate the pros and cons of working from home.

Opening a business is one of the most challenging, fulfilling, and nerve-wracking things I’ve ever done. I worked as a banker (“financial services representative,” was my fancy official job title) in a credit union for almost five years before suddenly finding myself job-less. Since I was a bit put off by the monotony of having an 8 to 5 day job and I had a decent amount of savings stock-piled away (read: enough to support myself for several months despite making some bone-headed business decisions), I decided to pursue self-employment as a blogger and personal trainer.

1. My first paying client (pro: nothing boosts confidence like helping a person change their life).

The scariest thing about working from home is not having a set income; even worse, it is just plain petrifying to actively seek your first paying client. In a typical sales job, you’ll be provided with scripts that help you communicate effectively, financial incentives that motivate you to deliver, and managers to keep you accountable; but if you’re a freelancer working from home, you’re the only one with the power to make the sale.

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I’ll never forget how happy and excited I was when I got a message from a friend that said something like, “Hey! I’ve been loving these fitness and motivation tips you’ve been posting on Facebook, and I know you’re training people now, right? Let me know how to sign-up, because I’m ready to make some changes!” That single client, a busy mom who ended up losing quite a bit of weight and developing a whole lot of strength, became a cheerleader who not only encouraged me to keep going, but also attracted the attention of more people who became clients in the future.

2. The devastating break-up (con: don’t expect everyone to support you, especially if you get obsessed).

When I first started a business, I became so consumed with wanting it to be successful that it was all I could think about. Add in the fact that I have an addictive personality (get obsessed with things very easily), and you can see how this might have spelled trouble for my relationship. My ex-girlfriend quickly became exhausted by how I never talked about anything but business stuff, and we ended up having several nasty fights about it. I was upset, because she seemed to be disinterested in what I was passionate about, and I accused her of not being supportive. She was upset, because I seemed to be disinterested in our relationship, and she accused me of being self-centered. I don’t think either one of us was completely “right” or “wrong.” I think she could have been more understanding and patient with me, since my life had radically changed in a short period of time; but I also could have been more considerate of her feelings, since a relationship can’t flourish without proper care and attention.

3. My smash-hit Kindle release (pro: if you hustle consistently, you will be rewarded for your effort).

With the help of a mentor, I plotted to release a Kindle book called, “The Busy Woman’s Guide to Getting Fit, Fierce, and Fabulous.” I have to confess I can be a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to putting out a book with my name attached, so it took me a (long) while to finish this project, but the result was so very worth it. I launched the book with a, “Get it free for five days!” promo, which helped it land in the #1 positions in the Amazon categories of women’s health, health/fitness/dieting, self-help, and happiness. This book has been read by over 25,000 people since its release, which boggles my mind.

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4. The bout of depression that followed (con: you better not get cocky, because success doesn’t happen overnight; it is an every day struggle).

The point of that Kindle release (other than helping people like you get fit and fabulous, of course!) was to direct traffic to a sign-up page for my online coaching program. Since I was selling the book for 99 cents at the time (it is now $2.99, but also better), I didn’t expect to get rich from it. I thought I might be able to get enough readers interested in my paid service to become financially stable. While I did pick up a few clients, the actual result didn’t come close to mirroring the expectations I had set for myself, and I found myself in the middle of an existential crisis where I wondered if there was any reason to bother trying anymore.

5. My first paid writing gig at Lifehack (pro: it’s nice to have freedom to express yourself and create your own schedule).

If nothing else, reader reviews of my Kindle book boosted my confidence as a writer, so I started looking for paid writing positions that might offer a steady income stream, which I hoped would remove the stress of not being sure I would have enough clients to cover my bills. Lifehack was the first place to take a chance on me. I am very thankful for that, because they gave me a creative outlet where I was free to express my fears, frustrations, and feelings in a way that would benefit people like you (yeah, you, over there reading this!). Contributing for Lifehack has also resulted in getting offers to write for other places like the Motivation Alliance, an online health portal and gamified fitness tracking service for corporate wellness plan participants. Now that I have a decent portfolio and track record built-up, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to find more fun writing gigs just like these as long as I’m persistent about it.

6. The lonely days that dominated my life for half a year (con: you will get lonely if you’re used to working with other people).

The “freedom” I discussed above can quickly turn into loneliness if you’re not careful. Remember how I mentioned that I have an addictive personality? I got so consumed in writing Lifehack articles, personal blogs, and my first print book* that my social life (and sanity) suffered as a consequence. I love to hustle, and can keep going and going like the Energizer Bunny for a very long time (months!), but pushing myself too hard for too long inevitably leads to a depressing place where I start to associate work with misery. I was so used to working for hours without end that visiting my family, going on a hike, or enjoying a few drinks with friends started to feel like frivolous things to do. Eventually, the irony dawned on me: I wanted to make enough money through my writing and coaching to have freedom of time, yet I was acting as if I was so chained to my work that I couldn’t even escape for a brief moment to get away from it all.

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*This isn’t released yet; if you want to know when it is, please check out the links in my bio at the end of this article.

7. My “let’s meet in the middle” compromise (pro: you can pursue a part-time gig if you start to miss people and/or could use some extra income).

Given my loneliness (which I feel was a direct consequence of living and working alone for over two years) and the simple fact that some extra income would remove a lot of the pressure I had placed on myself, I started browsing job ads in my area. I hoped to find a gig that didn’t quite demand a full 40-hour work-week, because then I’d still have plenty of time to coach, write, and work on my own business. My search concluded in me accepting a position as an office manager at an area YMCA, which only requires about 30 hours a week (and combines fitness and business, two fields I take a great interest in). It amazes me how working with other people, something I took for granted in the past, all of a sudden felt like a welcome escape from the lonely days I’d grown so accustomed to.

8. The woulda, coulda, shoulda’s (con: you will make some bad decisions you wish you could reverse, no matter what you do).

No matter how hard you try, you will fall short. No matter how much you plan, you will make mistakes. No matter how hopeful you feel, you will experience disappointment. I don’t say these things to discourage you from pursuing self-employment. I say it to prepare you for a harsh reality that a lot of people like to pretend doesn’t exist. I’m happy I pursued my passion, but I wish I could reverse some of my decisions. I know I can’t hop in a time-machine to change the past and make all my problems go away, but I can reflect about it here, which might be helpful for you. Below are the four biggest things I would have done differently.

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1. I would have made more time for my friends and family instead of obsessing about work so much. You do have to say “no” sometimes so you can get things done, but that doesn’t mean you have to become a hermit like I did.

2. I would have kept a part-time job initially instead of diving straight into it, because that would have helped me save money I could invest back into the business (and I might have even avoided those lonely days).

3. I wouldn’t have published my Kindle book until I had a print book to sell, too. Self-publishing on Amazon is great for generating traffic to your blog, but I should have had more offerings than a coaching service.

4. I wouldn’t have waited so long to start pursuing freelance writing jobs. I love to write (so much that I’d do it for free), but I think I could have been getting paid for it a lot sooner than I did.

Make sure you weigh the pros and cons of working from home before pursuing self-employment. If you have any points you’d add to this list or stories you’d like to share, do so in the comments. Please share with anyone you feel would be helped by it.

Featured photo credit: Woman and young girl in kitchen with laptop and paperwork smiling/GSCSNJ via flickr.com

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Daniel Wallen

Freelance Writer

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Published on September 18, 2018

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

Have there been instances when you noted a drop in your team’s productivity or observed a behavioral change in someone who used to be an excellent performer?

Before you blame the team for not being motivated enough or worse still, choose to ignore these warning signs, look inwards and ask yourself if YOU are doing enough to keep your team motivated in the first place.

Motivating employees is extremely crucial. As the leader of the pack, it is your responsibility to ensure each and every member of your team feels valued, driven and motivated.

After all, you cannot expect a bunch of disengaged and demotivated people to deliver results and grow your business, can you?

Here are 17 surefire tactics for motivating your employees and building a productive team:

1. Show your appreciation

In the whole race to achieve external business goals, leaders often forget to value their most important assets — their employees.

The least you can do to boost performance and morale is to appreciate your employees, recognize their efforts and give them credit when it is due.

Whether it’s sending a personalized note, recognizing achievements publicly during team huddles or even rewarding top performers at the end of every month, you will be surprised to see how these small acts of appreciation can go a long way.

2. Communicate effectively

Effective communication can do wonders in motivating employees. Who is a strong communicator? Someone who knows what they are talking about and are able to convey their message accurately.

Communication is a lot more than just language and talking. Factors such as eye contact, active listening, hand gestures and postures also say a lot about a person’s communication skills.

3. Be open to dialogue

Gone are the days when leading through fear and putting on the tough, distant leader act would work.

New age leadership is all about instilling trust by being accessible and encouraging discussions. Your team needs to feel comfortable speaking to you and you need to set the tone for such a camaraderie.

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In spite of having a busy schedule, you can still show you care through simple, effective acts.

For instance, having an open door policy, showing genuine interest while interacting with your employees or even greeting your team members helps breaking barriers and projects you as an accessible leader.

4. Provide constructive criticism

Giving negative feedback is always tricky — you don’t want to hurt feelings nor do you want the feedback to be taken lightly.

So, what do you do? The idea is to offer criticism such that it inspires change and delivers results.

Firstly, take criticism behind closed doors because nothing breaks self esteem the way calling out employees in public does.

Have a one-on-one discussion with the concerned person and make your feedback very specific. Be clear about your expectations and offer guidance on how they can improve.

Most importantly, give them the chance to explain their side of the story too instead of jumping to conclusions.

5. Conduct one-on-ones

Yes, you conduct weekly meetings with the team but how well do you know them on a personal level?

While you may think this isn’t an important practice to follow, it is one of the best ways to engage with your employees and identify what drives them.

Conduct a one-one-one session every month and use it to understand how your employees are doing and if they are facing any roadblocks.

More than reviewing performances, consider this as a relationship building tool to ensure you are aligned with your team and are working towards a shared, common goal.

6. Build training programs

In this ever-changing business landscape, it is important to ensure your employees are updated with the latest, relevant skills that can help boost productivity and performance.

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From imparting technical and soft skills to offering mentoring programs – investing in training and development significantly helps in motivating employees and keeps the learning going.

While conducting training programs, remember to keep them engaging and interactive. They need to ultimately drive value and reinforce learnings.

7. Offer growth opportunities

Every employee envisions a different career path for themselves and demotivation strikes the day they feel they have reached stagnation. As a leader, you need to first be aligned with their goals and offer ample growth opportunities that constantly keeps them engaged and motivated.

Growth opportunities go beyond just financial growth. While money is a huge driving factor, what makes most people tick is making progress in the company and going up the career ladder.

Being faced with new challenges and responsibilities lets them push the envelope and broaden their knowledge and skills.

8. Reward them

Go beyond verbal recognition and reward employees for their notable work. You can start an incentive program and reward top performers. This ensures increased productivity and brings out the best in them.

If you don’t have enough budgets for that, you can also reward top performers with movie tickets, a paid vacation or something as simple as giving them the option to work from home.

Rewarding employees promotes healthy competition and motivates them while meeting business goals.

9. Encourage team outings

Employee motivation also stems from how connected the team is. Invest time in team building because a team that works collaboratively is likely to deliver better results.

From bowling nights to hosting team dinners – team outings are a great way to get to know each other and bond. Assign someone from your team to be in charge of organizing these monthly outings and make sure you join them too!

10. Involve them

Involve your employees in decision making because when they are involved, they feel more valued and part of a larger cause.

Seek your team’s opinion and encourage healthy debates within the team. This boosts employee morale and challenges them to work harder as they know they are in a position to make an impact and will be taken seriously.

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11. Set meaningful goals

In the beginning of the financial year, make sure you sit down with each employee to set meaningful and realistic goals. The goal-setting conversation is an extremely crucial one and needs to be a two-way street.

Whether your employee feels burdened or doesn’t feel inspired enough by the assigned goals – this is the time to come to a consensus and assign goals derived from business objectives that foster individual development while keeping in mind their strengths and weaknesses.

12. Empower them

You cannot expect employees to be motivated for long if you micro manage the team and do all the talking.

Trust your employees and empower them to take decisions. Mistakes will happen but that is the only way they will learn.

Be open to discussions, delegate effectively, set your expectations and give your team the freedom to do it their way.

13. Deal with conflict

A conducive work environment is one wherein there is open communication and trust, but every once in a while, you do encounter people in the team who indulge in office politics and spread negativity.

How much ever fulfilled an employee feels with their work, gossiping co-workers are bound to ruin it for them. Workplace gossip if not tackled hampers productivity and soils working relations.

As a responsible leader, you need to maintain a conducive work environment and act as a mediator in such cases. Don’t be the leader who is locked up in his/her cabin and is unaware of what is brewing within the team.

14. Implement a flexible work culture

Flexible work cultures are a growing trend and are here to stay.

Whether it is offering flexible working hours or allowing employees to work from home once in a month – a flexible work culture promotes work-life balance and aids in employee satisfaction.

It shows that the management is sensitive to employees’ schedules and is thereby highly appreciated.

15. Host engaging activities

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and we cannot agree more! So, why not devote one day of the week to employee engagement activities?

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From hosting baking competitions to introducing wellness programs in the office – let your team have some fun beyond work. This keeps the environment engaging, light-hearted and interesting, giving them all the more reason to look forward to coming to work.

16. Maintain a positive work space

Your employees spend more than half their day at work and in order to keep them energized and motivated, it is important to maintain a positive and inspiring work space.

Have a recreation center where employees can unwind after a hard day’s work, offer free snacks and beverages and invest in an open office design that promotes socializing and conversations.

These are simple yet effective ways to create a space your employees will love coming to.

17. Avoid discrimination

Any kind of discrimination, be it due to age, gender, religion or race hugely impacts employee motivation and performance.

In order to avoid such cases, you must lay down rules against discrimination and take strict action against accused employees. Lead by example and make sure no one in the team is a victim of bias and discrimination.

The bottom line

Don’t underestimate the power of motivating employees. Understand that the more engaged and motivated they are, the better their performance will be.

It is also a good idea to send out a survey and get feedback from your employees on the company culture, work environment and their motivation levels.

This will help you be more aligned with their expectations and further improve your efforts in building a stronger, engaged team.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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