Working from home may sound like a dream, but what happens if it turns into a nightmare for your health?
Most of the time, I love working from home. My commute involves walking from one side of the apartment to the other. I can workout, and then remain in my workout clothes all day if I feel like I need to just get to work instead of clean myself up. If I lose focus, I can read a book, meditate, or take a nap to take a break. Then, after taking a break, I can return to work more productively.
However, working from home doesn't have the same benefits for everyone. There are times when your home business might actually be bad for your health, depending on how exhausting your work/family conflicts are.
Family Demands, Your Home Business, and Your Health
Back in 2011, Timothy Golden, a professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, published the results of his research on teleworking in the Journal of Business and Psychology.
According to the research, working from home can result in increased exhaustion due to conflicts between work and family. Exhaustion can have a number of negative impacts on your health, including increasing your risk of injury when performing tasks, as well as problems related to weight, stress, and blood pressure.
Your mental and emotional health can suffer as well. When you don't get enough sleep, your judgment can be impaired, and it's a good way to reduce your ability to cope with disappointment.
When working from home, the conflict between family demands and your work demands can cause exhaustion and health problems. Here is what Golden comments about the research:
Whereas individuals may adopt telework as a means to enhance their quality of life and reduce exhaustion, those with low levels of conflict between work and family seem able to benefit more from telework than are those individuals who have high levels of conflict between their work and home. These results occurred for individuals who teleworked during either regular work hours or during the evenings and weekends.
Many of us think that working from home can improve quality of life, but it can be an issue if you find that you are always running into family conflict, and your work interferes more with your family life.
I've struggled with this myself in the past. There are times when my husband and son are “off”, but I still have work to do in my home business. Another issue is that you might have a hard time staying on task when you work from home. If family concerns, including chores and kids at home, distract you from working, that can be an issue. You won't get as much done, and your work could suffer. In some cases, this might require you to work late into the night, reducing the amount of sleep you get.
In some ways, running a home business requires?more from you than working a “regular” job. You can't just leave your work at the office; it's always there, beckoning. If you're not careful, you really can run yourself ragged, and your physical health and emotional health can suffer.
Tips for Maintaining Health and Sanity While Working from Home
The key to working from home without having a breakdown is to create some space so that you don't end up with conflicts between your family life and your work life. Here are some of the ways that I have made an effort to create that space in my own home business:
- Dedicated workspace: There is something about a dedicated workspace that can help you focus your energy and get into “work mode.” I have a desk, in a corner of the spare room in our apartment, that I can use at a workspace. When I am there, my family knows it's serious and I get some space.
- Work time without the family around: My son is in middle school now, so I have a good chunk of time where I can work without distraction while he as at school and my husband is at work. However, even before my son was in school, I had him go to daycare a couple times a week, just to clear up some space.
- Make it a point to have family time and housework time: I make sure to carve out family time each day. This is time dedicated to my son and my husband. I don't do work during this time. I also make time to take care of things around the house. My husband usually does laundry and vacuums on the weekend. I make sure that I have time each day to take care of decluttering, or do the dishes.
- Get out of the house to work sometimes: There are times when it just makes sense to leave the house to work. If you need more space, consider a coworking space, or working for a couple hours at the coffee shop. This can help you focus better, get more done, and then come home to focus more on your family obligations.
It can be hard to put the work away and focus on other things. However, that is one of the main lessons about working from home. You have to be able to maintain your work/life balance, even when your home is your place of business. If you don't learn to manage your work and family conflicts, it can be hard on your health, and on your family relationships.