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Should You Work From Home? Here’s a Checklist

A woman types on a laptop in front of her couch.

Work from home, why not? You have downtime between morning drop-offs and afternoon pick-ups. You just have to make the lunches and tell Evan to pack a snack. And where are Taylor’s shoes? No, Taylor, you have to wear shoes!

I mean, what could be easier than working from home in your yoga pants, right?

First of all, slow your momtastic roll and take a breath. There are a few things to think about to help you decide if working from home is right for you. Below is a basic checklist to help you decide if it’s right for you, before you download apps promising you’ll make back your holiday spending in a week.

Making a list (you only have to check it once)

This list won’t (and probably can’t) cover every scenario. It should, however, give you a solid basic overview of the problems you may face if you choose to work from home.

Step One: How much time can you actually commit to work per day?: Before you can begin to choose the right work-from-home job, you have to figure out how many solid hours you can commit it. That means focused on-task time away from the lure of social media and the countless domestic tasks you do.

Do you have a rough number? OK. Now take that number and subtract time to eat, a few minutes of “me” time, and 30 minutes for emergencies. Don’t forget that!

Let’s say you end up with three hours a day.

Step Two: Do you have space to work at home?: It’s important to create a workspace, even if it’s half the kitchen table or a spot on the sofa. This will be your bubble. When you sit there, it’s all about the Benjamins. You’ll be more focused. It’ll be where you keep your water container, charger, and anything you’ll end up needing for your work, just like in a co-working space.

Alright. So, you’ve settled on the couch and pulled over an end table for your water and electronics. Good work.

Step Three: What technology do you have access to?: Before you can commit to any particular job, assess your tech-savvy realness. Do you have a Mac or a PC? A smartphone? A tablet? What technology you have access to and whether you know how to use it are important considerations when you choose your job.

Let’s say you have your own smartphone and a family computer. That’s a good start! Make sure you have your own login and password for the shared computer. You may need to download software and build a custom toolbar on your web browser. It’s best to keep work tools away from the little people.

If you think accidentally deleted homework is hard to explain to Evan’s teacher, just wait until you have to explain missing details to your boss on Slack.

Step Four: WiFi. Figure it out: Trust me on this. If you have a job online and you are working from home, you will have to know how to reboot the Wi-Fi.

Know that working from home has plusses and minuses

Working from home has its benefits. There’s the aforementioned yoga pants and the fact that showers are entirely optional. There are, however, some negatives to working at home. Since you don’t go anywhere for work, you lose the separation that naturally occurs when leaving an office. You may else find that friends and family associate working from home with being able to do whatever you want at all times (like pick them up at the airport).

If you have the tools and the temperament working from home can be freeing. Not having to commute makes the useful part of your day longer and when you finish working, you’re already home. For some people, however, not having a place to go or being able to separate working hours from home hours clearly can make the negatives outweigh the positives.

By Nic DeSmet

SmartCents Mom