You live with a chronic illness – waxing/waning pain, fatigue, impairment – and you’re determined to keep working. But just living in your body makes each day a challenge. Leaving your house to go to work each day — the commute, the schedule, the exposure to germs, the face to face when you’re feeling less than your best — can seem like a daily climb of Mt. Everest.
What’s a person to do? Take a nice cleansing breath and maybe have that cup of green tea to mull on what I’m saying. Don’t despair. It’s never as bleak as it might seem.
In his post on About.com, Home Business, Randy Duermyer asks, Why Do You Want to Work from Home? A majority of the responses gave health as the reason. It certainly was what drove me to toward self employment AND working from home.
I had no doubt at the time that it was the best option for me. I love what I do and most days love doing it in my home and working solo. But then, I also loved working with and for others when I did it. And, I can’t replay this to find out if working outside of my home and/or working for others wouldn’t have been just as good. It seemed like the best choice at the time and still does 13 years later.
No doubt, I don’t have to tell you that making a work/life change is a big step. Most likely you’ll go about making this decision as you do others. Until relatively recently, I made most decisions from the gut rather than my head. It worked well enough. Although, as I’ve aged and taken my share of hits, I find myself evaluating a lot more carefully before making even a small shift.
If you’re someone who thinks before jumping in, here a few things to consider regarding working from home. We’ll start with some basic questions:
- Would you be self employed or would you work for someone/some entity? Address this first as it can influence your responses. FYI – If you’re considering self employment, see my last post, Chronic illness and self employment: Is it Right for You? And, if you’re looking for employment at home, Randy Duermyer’s post, Work at Home, Jobs for the Disabled , mentions two websites that can help your job search.
- Do you have the motivation and discipline to stay on task when you’re alone? Whether you’re self employed or have a “virtual” supervisor, working at home requires discipline that can come more “naturally” when you work among others. You might be thinking working at home allows you to pace yourself and take the breaks you need — the hours or even days at a time when you’re not well. But be honest with yourself. If you’ve always struggled with procrastination or time management, working at home will challenge these tendencies to the max! If you’re setting the schedule, you need to be able to keep to it.
- Do you need social interaction with people you like and trust? Being employed offers more consistent social contact than self employment. The water cooler gossip, sitting and chatting with the other people in your office, and having coffee with co-workers can make even a bad environment tolerable. And, chronic illness can lead to isolation without a reason to leave home. On the other hand, the social aspect of work might be too demanding or too difficult for you. If you’re feeling the need for people, there are virtual networking (social media) and face to face opportunities. Why do you think Starbucks has wifi?).
- Do you have a place in your home to set up an office? You’ll need more than a closet or the t.v. table that your computer currently sits on. If possible, it should be a dedicated room –or even a space –that is dedicated to your work and won’t be disturbed. Even better, make sure there’s a door that can keep children and barking dogs out when necessary. As Virginia Wolff so famously wrote, A Room of One’s Own.
- If you live with others (such as family members), will they respect the time that you are working at home as much as they might if you were out of the house? This might not seem important at first But it’s very very frustrating to find that once you’ve some real, paying work going, it’s frequently sabotaged by events beyond your control. Explore ground rules with all whom this might affect –before you start!
What else do you have to think about? Here are some less concrete, more reflective questions to ask yourself:
- What do I want from working from home?
- What do I absolutely need from working from home?
- What challenges/stumbling blocks do I face?
- Do I believe I can make this happen?
- What support around me will I need to help me if I stumble?
Why do you want to work from home? Have you tried it? What have you learned? What have I left out?
I’m going to have my cuppa’ afternoon green tea.