Overcome the challenges of working from home

#2 The Homepreneur Survey 2018

Published by Amanda Brown on

In this week's episode, I bring you the findings of the Homepreneur Survey 2018. The responses are from 550 respondents across a range of roles. The five main challenges are:

  1. Feelings of isolation which lead many to seek co-working and networking opportunities
  2. Struggling with productivity and time management
  3. Having no dedicated workspace
  4. Seek being valued by family and friends as they would in a traditional working environment
  5. Finding sufficient funds to outsource repetitive tasks.

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Website: www.homepreneur.co

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Twitter: @amanda_brown

Read the transcript

Welcome to Episode 2 of the Homepreneur Show. This week I'm going to tell you all about the Homepreneur Survey that I carried out earlier on in 2018. I really wanted to understand the challenges that other home-based businesses face. And also, this forms the foundation of the content on the Homepreneur website. So I put this simple survey together and spread it out to 550 other home-based business people. Now, it's an anecdotal piece of research. It's not academic, there aren't any great stratified sampling techniques employed, but what I learned was really useful. I'm going to share with you today, five key results from the survey.

Firstly, isolation is a real problem for people who work from home. I discovered that people, surprisingly, or not, need other people.

The second piece of research that came out of this was that people struggle with planning, time management, so that they can regain their work-life balance. It seemed to me that the working day, for some people, stretches beyond the traditional nine to five.

The third response that was very common was that people suffer with not having enough room to work in, or rather that they don't have a dedicated work space. So whether they're looking for additional space in maybe a spare bedroom, or a shed, it's really having that dedicated space where they don't have to pack things away at the end of the day, that their stuff doesn't interfere with normal home life.

The fourth observation I'd make is that people who work from home want to be valued by their family and their friends. Just because they work at home doesn't mean they're always available, either for a coffee, or to be interrupted. Obviously that's very difficult if you've got small children who need your attention, but clearly, people want to feel that working from home is no different from working for a company in a normal office environment.

And fifthly, the other observation, is that people wanted to find sufficient funds to be able to outsource the work that they don't like doing themselves, or don't feel that they're qualified to do.

Homepreneur Survey 2018 Questions

Let's go through the questions one by one.

In the first question, I asked people what their role is, how they see themselves, so that I could gain, you know, what universe I was looking at. So there were mainly people in the writing profession, editors, copywriters, journalists. Additionally, marketing consultants, lots of those. Virtual assistants were very keen to answer the questions. And then there were designers, such as artists, graphic designers, video consultants, those sorts of things. And the next most popular group were consultants ranging from sales consultants, HR consultants, social media consultants. That sort of role.

Question 2 was all about how long they'd been in business. And fortunately, the spread was quite even. I broke it down into four segment, and roughly 25% had been working from home for over eight years. 22% from between three and eight years. One to three years was the majority with one third, and the remainder were newbies. They'd only been working from home for under a year, and there were 22% of those. So I'm pleased that the range was equally spread.

In terms of the challenges that people face, I've picked out six of these. I asked people what they found were the top challenges. Switching off was one of the most popular, so obviously that transition between working in your spare room, or at the kitchen table, and then suddenly switching off into home mode is quite difficult, unlike working in an office where you've got the commute time, or a drive. You've got that space of time and a change of environment to make that transition. Equally, it's really easy if your laptop's still open on the side of the sofa, to pick it up and start answering emails at all hours of the day and night.

The second of these challenges were focus and distractions. Clearly people found that they became distracted quite easily, either self-inflicted distractions such as the washing up, or other household chores, and then external distractions such as people dropping in, or the telephone, being distracted by social media, going down that internet rabbit hole was resulting in people finding being productive and managing their time very difficult.

Health and exercise was considered a challenge, and if you go onto the website, I've got a review of The Healthy Writer. Finally, isolation is clearly a big challenge for a lot of people who work at a computer day in and day out and don't see their clients. People struggle with that feeling of being a bit of a hermit. And having worked for myself for 20 years, I can understand how you can feel really quite cut off from the world outside.

I then asked how people have overcome these challenges. Very often they have got good planning tools in operation, they're good at managing their time and their productivity. Meeting people, either socially during the working day, or at business networking, was obviously one way of reducing isolation. And also, people like to vary their workspace, either by coworking, or going to a coffee shop, maybe going to a local library, or a local hotel just to spend some time away from those four walls that can close in.

Question five was all about whether they'd change anything about their current working situation. Just 13% said everything was perfect, they'd change nothing. 30% would definitely do something about their work space, either by building an office in the garden, like a “shoffice.” A lot of people wanted to increase the amount of social interaction during the working day. I also asked what advice they'd give to people starting out or considering leaving the nine to five, and setting up from home.

And a lot of people were extremely encouraging. They suggested that you really need to just go for it. Be confident in your offering, and make sure that you've done enough planning, that you've really thought about all the different issues, and also that there is a lot of help out there. I know from looking at a list of places I can find help, it's quite extensive. In my area of the UK, we have a growth hub, we have an economic development officer, there's the local chamber of commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses, the CBI. There's lots of places you can find information that can help you on the road to starting out. And then as you grow and become more confident, than obviously a lot of the challenges of wearing so many hats tend to disappear. So it was great to be able to have the views and the insights of 550 people, and I will be repeating this survey with a different slant in March 2019.

So if you care to get in touch with me, then obviously I'd love to include your views on the survey. If you'd like to get in touch, you can find me on Twitter at Amanda_Brown. You can email me at amanda@homepreneur.co, or you can find us, as I said before, on the Facebook group. Next week we'll be talking about the subjects of isolation and how to overcome it by coworking. Thanks very much for listening, and I look forward to speaking to you next week.


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