Do you work from home? Have you ever wondered if it was something you could do?
My name is Mark Conacher and I have been working from home for the past nine and a half years. That does sound a bit like an AA confession.
That first connection.
I remember vividly, the very first time I connected to the internet. It was 1995. I’m in my living-room, bank card in hand, just standing there, deciding whether to press that button or not. To send all my information “out there”. Handing my life over to an internet service provider named CompuServe.
I’m not entirely sure what I thought was going to happen. If my bank account was to be hacked, they were going to be hugely disappointed.
I couldn’t Google what the risks were because Google didn’t exist!
As we all eventually did, I pressed that button and as far as I can remember nothing disastrous ever happened.
It certainly didn’t cross my mind in that moment, that some fifteen years later, that connection would allow me to not only work from home but also to work over 7000km away from my business, which is based in Dundee, Scotland.
To cut a short story even shorter, in the summer of 2010 I moved with my wife and four children to Vancouver, British Columbia. Pretty much as far west as you can go before it becomes east.
My thinking was, if another director came into the company to run the day to day, it would allow me to concentrate on company growth, performance, forecasting, marketing, etc. All via this wonderful thing called the internet. I could be sitting at a desk in an office in Dundee or sitting at a desk at home on the other side of the world, it didn’t really matter. So for the past nine and a half years that’s been my life. Working remotely, working from home.
The key is self discipline.
If someone was to ask me what was the main key to working from home was, I would say it has to be self discipline. Self discipline to sit down and work when no one is watching. Self discipline to sit down and work when Man United or whoever are playing in the Champions League and it’s on TV.
Just remember, Vancouver is 8hrs behind UK time, therefore a 7pm kick off for you is an 11am kick off for me. It would be so easy to get caught up in all of that.
Lastly, the self discipline to start work at 5:30am every morning, just so I can catch the last few hours of the working day back in Scotland. It is this discipline that keeps me committed to being the very best I can be for my company despite the obvious obstacles of distance and time difference.
It can be isolating.
The distraction of another work colleague would certainly be better than the ping of another email sometimes.
I would be lying if I said that working from home wasn’t a little isolating.
Internet based voice calling apps like Face-time and Viber, etc have become better and better over the years and are vital for myself to keep in touch with our installers and sub-contractors. Whilst Liberty’s other director and myself can offload the important information from each others day with a call for an hour or two every afternoon (evening for him).
One of the biggest dangers I find from working at home is I’m always in work mode, I’m always in my office, there is no end. I’ve lost count of the number of seventeen hour days I’ve worked simply because there wasn’t much on TV that night or for one reason or another I find myself at home by myself in the evening. What will I do, I know, I’ll grab my laptop and get some work done.
Switching off from work is not something I’m very good at. Working from home doesn’t help this but I’m working on it.
So what are the perks?
There are definitely perks to working from home. The main one for myself is the ability to spend more time with my kids. Just being able to take them to school and pick them up again in the afternoon has been really important to me. Also being around to go to their school concerts, etc has been a big bonus.
This was all especially important to me, having moved them half way across the world and away from their family and friends.
Would I change anything?
I must admit, I do miss the camaraderie of working alongside other people and the banter of the workplace can never be replaced by anything online. No longer making face to face connections with our clients is a big downside, as this was a big part of my job that I took a lot of pleasure from. After all the careful thought and planning that goes into every project. To stepping back and seeing the clients delight at how their home has been transformed. I now have to make do with seeing the finished projects through video and photographs. It’s not quite the same.
In spite of all this, I still wouldn’t change a thing.
Mark Conacher, Director of Liberty Fitting Service Ltd.
Liberty Fitting Service Ltd. are a multi-award winning home renovation company situated on the East Coast of Scotland in the amazing City of Dundee. 🏴