We all know working from home can be a pretty sweet gig. Many of us sign up without much hesitation. But once you really get into it, you may realize working from home does have a few disadvantages.
Since you spend a significant amount of time working in isolation, your communication skills may take a nosedive. Before you know it, you could be like Scary Uncle Ralph—mumbling to yourself in the corner.
Be on the lookout for these communication issues that usually arise when people work from home.
1. You Lash Out Irrationally
Working from home means we can control most of the things in our environment. We don’t have to fight with coworkers about the thermostat setting. We can make the coffee exactly the way we like it. Very few things are outside our control.
That means when unexpected things do happen, we tend to react badly. We don’t like when our routine gets tossed upside down.
What do you mean the internet will be down for the next two hours?!
I don’t care if this is the third snow day in a row—stop telling me you are bored and find something quiet to do while I work!
Why haven’t you finished the monthly sales report? You’ve had a week to get it done!
Try to remember there is a great big world going on out there. Most people have to interact with it on a daily basis. And their unpleasant interactions will trickle down and affect you too.
Learn to roll with the punches. Stay calm, cool and collected. Put a few of those cheesy stress management techniques to good use. Tell yourself it isn’t the end of the world.
Then confront the person who has done you wrong.
2. Professionalism Goes Out the Window
When you are lounging on the sofa in your pajamas with your favorite daytime talk show humming in the background and a bowl of chocolate ice cream sitting beside you, it is easy to forget you’re actually working.
Your communication style can become as lax as your wardrobe selection. Even though no one else sees how casual you are, the unprofessionalism will come through in both email and phone conversations.
You’ll be amazed at how much more professional—and productive—you are while wearing just slightly more appropriate clothing. Try trading your yoga pants for jeans. Sit up. Let your posture and attitude reflect the seriousness of your work.
3. You Have Unrealistic Expectations
Most work-from-home professionals have a very blurred line between their personal and business life. There are many unhealthy issues that can arise from such an existence; poor communication is one of them.
Just because you work all hours of the day and night doesn’t mean everyone else does. And even if you are more productive at midnight, you shouldn’t expect the same from the rest of the world.
If you primarily interact with 9-5ers, you need to respect their work schedule. Don’t expect prompt replies if you are sending emails in the middle of the night. Don’t call a coworker, vender or customer after hours.
4. Effective Communication Gets Put on the Back Burner
If you aren’t obsessively emailing someone 20 times a day, hoping to be acknowledged, you are probably at the other extreme. Rather than expect instant gratification to all your communications, maybe you’ve put contact with the outside world on hold.
Many work-from-home professionals bite off more than they can chew. We think a home business is a pretty sweet deal. We can multitask—addressing work and home responsibilities at the same time.
Unless time management skills are put into effect, you’ll quickly become overwhelmed by the amount of stuff you have to do. And if you have to choose between getting dinner off the stove before it burns and replying to those emails that have been sitting in your inbox all day, it’s understandable that you want to prevent a visit from the fire department.
Prioritize your to-do list. Make sure effective communication with your work associates is handled in a timely fashion.
5. You Let Distractions Interfere
Ask anyone who works from home; we have an amazing ability to block out nearly everything that is happening around us.
As we speak, the dog is barking at the mailman, the baby just pulled every book off the shelf, the husband is yelling at the soccer players on TV, and I keep writing. Why? Because this insanity is the norm. I’ve learned to adjust. I don’t even hear it anymore.
But those loud, obnoxious distractions won’t be ignored by other people you communicate with. If you hope to have a meaningful conversation with someone, you need to recognize and minimize distractions.
Have Your Communication Skills Gone Rusty?
If you work from home, now is the perfect time to reevaluate your communication skills, priorities, and work ethic.
You might spend the majority of your day working in isolation, but the rest of the world does exist—and you’ll want to try communicating with it from time to time!