Is working from home for you? Designers fall into one of three categories, those who work from home, those who long for the ability to work from home, and those who don’t want to work from home because they don’t realize how great working from home can be. Ok, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Even though working from home is great, I admit, it’s not for everyone. In past episodes of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I’ve shared numerous excellent reasons for working from home. Still, I always cautioned you to examine your lifestyle before taking the entrepreneurial plunge, to make sure this life is for you. If you are an introvert or someone who likes to do things at your own pace, then the idea of working alone, without anyone looking over your shoulder sounds terrific. Plus, of course, there are all the benefits. No commute time You get to set your hours Tax benefits More freedom and flexibility when choosing design projects. The list goes on and on. That’s why, as we start this new decade, more and more people, designers included, are opting to work for themselves by starting a home-based business. But what many of these people fail to realize is, as I stated earlier, working from home is not for everyone, and you may fall into that category. You see, even though working from home has plenty of perks, there’s a downside to it as well that I don’t touch on very often on this podcast. For one thing, you may be the type of person who will get bored being by yourself all day, every day. There have been entire weeks where I haven’t seen another human being other than my family. That may seem fine to you at first, but will you be ok as time goes by and your life becomes more and more monotonous? Work-Life balance goes out the window Anyone who works from home will tell you that inevitably, your work-life balance will be affected. Unless you have strict structures in place, the freedom that working from home gives you could cause you to falter and become lazy. If you don’t set guidelines for yourself, you’ll start putting things off, and procrastination will become a problem. And before you know it, all your good intentions go out the window, and you become more interested in binging the newest Netflix series than working on that crucial website for your client. Why not? There’s nobody there to stop you. Being all alone, without anyone to hold you accountable, can lead to your downfall. When you’re alone, it becomes easy to lose track of time, to forget to stop for meals, it can cause you to neglect your health. I know, I’ve been there myself. There have been days when my wife walks in at the end of the day, asking about supper, and I realize I never even stopped for lunch. I remember seeing the school bus pull up at 3 pm to drop off my kids and sprinting to the bedroom to get dressed because I was still in my bathrobe. And I can’t tell you how many times over the years my wife has asked If I was planning on shaving soon because I hadn’t bothered for a few days. Why should I? I wasn’t leaving the house. When you work from home, things that people with 9-5 jobs would never think of suddenly become the norm for you. To some people, this might sound great. But to others, it’s self-neglect, and self-neglect once started, can grow and grow. Coping with isolation When you work in an office environment, you get to interact with your coworkers. You talk about your families, your vacations, the latest sports scores, television shows you’ve watched and of course office gossip. When you work from home, there’s none of that. Talking to your family members is not the same as interacting with others. And even the most introverted individuals need some interaction with others. I did an entire episode on dealing with isolation If you're interested in learning more. Unlike the rest of the world, people who work from home need to schedule social time consciously — time to interact with other human beings. When your family members get home at the end of a long day, they may want nothing more than to curl up on the couch and watch tv. That’s great for them, but you’ve been alone all day, so you don’t need to unwind as they do. In fact, contrary to what they desire, you may want to get out of the house. That’s one of the reasons I do the groceries for our household. At the end of a busy day, my wife has no desire to go shopping. Me, on the other hand, I want to get out. I love going to the grocery store, even if the only person I talk to is the cashier I’m still out and among people. A study done by the University of Iowa found that the average office worker has face-to-face interactions, a conversation of more than a few words with 20-28 people per day who are not members of their family. For a remote worker, such as a home-based designer, that number drops to 0.8 interactions per day. Translates to 71 days per year that a remote worker doesn’t interact with another human being. Depression is a possibility. For some people, that lack of social interaction from being isolated all the time can affect their mental health and lead to loneliness and possibly depression. Which, if not caught early, can spiral out of control. People suffering from depression rarely want to interact with others. And therein lies the problem. A lack of interaction can lead to depression, and depression can make people isolate themselves from others resulting in a lack of interaction. Sure some of this can be alleviated by interacting with people on social media or in online groups such as the Resourceful Designer Facebook Group, or even better, the Resourceful Designer Community. But interacting online is never the same as interacting with someone face-to-face. I know that this is a very dark thought compared to most of my podcast episodes, but I don’t want to hide the fact that there is a less glamorous side to working from home of which people don’t often talk. What can you do? What can you do if you start to feel any of what I talked about above? The first thing to do is consider whether or not working from home is for you. Some people thrive better in a social environment, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Maybe you gave it a go and decided working from home is not for you. That’s OK. Use the experience you’ve gained to help you in your next position. But if you are determined to give working from home a go, here are some steps you can take that may help. Work where there are other people. Consider working from a co-working space, the library or a coffee shop. Even if you don’t talk to the people around you, simply being around others will improve your mental state. Set a schedule and stick to it. Most people work a 9-5 job, so why don’t you? A fixed schedule can help maintain your work-life balance. Plan your day. Writing down your daily tasks is a great way to stay productive, and it wards off procrastination by starting your day, knowing what you need to accomplish. Schedule networking events. Find out what events are happening in your community and make a point of attending as many as you can. Even if it doesn’t lead to more work, it will contribute to your mental health by being around others. Join a community. If you start feeling Isolated and lonely, reach out to people. Join a community, as I mentioned earlier. A live in-person one would be best, but even an online community can help alleviate that sense of isolation. And if you start feeling depressed, please seek help. Depression is no small matter, and if left unacknowledged can lead to some dark places. Is working from home for you? What I've talked about is part of the reality of working from home. And unfortunately, it’s not for everyone. However, if you are ready to face the challenges and can overcome and persevere through this less glamorous side of freelance life, the rewards are numerous. As many home-based designers will tell you, myself included, I have never regretted my decision to work from home, and I will never go back to a regular office job. What "less glamorous" side of working from home have you experienced? Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode. Resource of the week Vectoraster Vectoraster is a macOS and IOS graphics utility by LostMinds for creating vector-based raster patterns and halftones based on images or gradients. Create halftones with different point shapes including circles, polygons, and even font characters. You can even import your own custom vector shapes to use. You can also create circle and straight or curved line based halftones. You have full control over the size of the points, the spacing between the points, the distribution pattern of the points and more. And once you’re happy with the look of your pattern or halftone you can export it as a vector to EPS or PDF, or you can save it as a raster JPG, PNG or TIFF file. Have you ever seen one of those photos that’s made up of paragraphs of text with different thicknesses of letters? When you look at the paragraph as a whole you can see the photo of a person or something? You can create that effect in seconds with Vecoraster. If you ever wanted to create a halftone gradient or use an image effect making a photo look like it was printed using large halftone dots, then Vectorraster is for you. I’ve had this program in my toolbox for years. And although it’s not one I use very often, when I do, it comes in very handy.