There’s nothing like getting up late, not stressing about a commute, and sitting down at your laptop with a big breakfast and no outside distractions to start your day at work right? Well, that seems accurate until you realize you’re in the comfort of your own bed, have access to far too many TVs and unrelated work activities.
Whether you are a home-based business owner who works from home full-time or someone who decides to work from home occasionally, there are a number of pros and cons to consider before you set up your home office. Maybe you’re a pro at job hunting online and maybe you found what seems like the greatest remote job. Hey, maybe you found a company headquartered in Adelaide but live in Aldinga Beach and would find the commute to be tiresome to drive through during rush-hour traffic. Having the option to work remotely full-time sounds like a dream come true, but without the stamina and discipline, it may seem like you’re dedicating more time to doing your laundry and cooking meals than actually working.
Working from home has its fair share of pros and cons, but so does working in an office setting.
Pro #1: You’re Free to Do as You Please
Maybe you work from home once a week and work in an office the rest of the days. Well, you probably enjoy it because you get to set your own schedule for the day, wake up a bit later, and don’t have to worry about fighting off the crowds on the train or hitting rush hour traffic.
Many working professionals struggle with finding a balance between work and their personal lives. Working from home can make this balance a little bit easier to find and maintain and will also provide you with more hours in the day and thus more flexibility. Even if you only work 9-5, you have to account for at least an hour commute both ways, plus the prep time in the morning and the worry of traffic in the evening. Your 9-5 may seem closer to a 7-7 if you work in an office.
When you work from your home, you have more control over your stress level and can more easily walk away or take a break when work gets particularly crazy.
Con #1: It Takes A Phenomenal Amount of Self-Discipline
It takes a great amount of effort to start work when you know you don’t have to be at the office by 8 a.m. Instead of getting ready and having a set routine, maybe you just roll out of bed and start working so you get as much sleep as possible. Instead of taking twenty minutes to read the news and indulge in some cold brew before work, you’re just throwing everything relaxing away in the morning to start work once you hop out of the shower.
To stay very astute at work, have a clear set of daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals that you’re focused on. Create virtual checklists that rank goals by when they need to be completed and how significant each one is to your business or career. These goals should guide you on what you should be doing when you wake up every morning.
If you set tentative deadlines for yourself (even if the work isn’t due then), you’ll be well on your well to being more successful while working from home.
Pro #2: More Engaged
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reported on a recent study that found teleworkers are more productive and less likely to take time off work — even when sick.
As long as you’re not spending too much time looking at videos on YouTube, you can definitely be more engaged in your own home than an office. I doubt you’ll find absolute solace in a crowded office, where people are constantly talking on the phone, in meetings and coming up to you to ask for help on a deliverable. When you work from home, the only distractions are the ones that you bring on.
Con #2: No Outside Pressure to Stay Busy
You are the only person around all day, so there is no outside pressure to keep actively working.
It’s all too easy to get caught up in reading an article in Buzzfeed, which turns to reading an article on the New York Times which turns to checking your personal email. Since there is also no pressure to start work at a certain time or dress a certain way, it is very easy to delay the start or continuation of work. Productivity can seriously decrease under such circumstances if you don’t have a proper schedule to keep you working in the morning up until lunchtime, and lunchtime up until 5 or 6 P.M.
Pro #3: No Micromanaging
Boss looking over your shoulder all the time at work? Not at your home office, but you may have the distraction of a puppy or a toddler looking over to see why you aren’t instead enjoying their company.
You won’t get interrupted and asked to help out your boss or coworker all the time, or sit in another pointless meeting which just sucks up your time when you work from home.
Con #3: Pressing Personal Chores
Personal chores can mount and get extremely difficult to avoid when one is working from home — let alone just relaxing at home! The tasks can easily become overwhelming, especially when your vacuum or duster happens to be lying so close to your workspace.
Tasks that would otherwise take only fifteen minutes can end up taking up a lot more time. You need to be able to focus — and stay focused — knowing nobody is watching.
Having your home office in a secluded space -free from any visual distractions may be helpful. By creating a home office that’s separate from your day-to-day can help to offset some of the distractions as well. If you know you need to take care of the dry cleaning or mop your floors, wait until your lunch break to get to work.
Pro #4: Taking Care of the Kids/Pets
Working from home can mean more time to spend with your loved ones and your pets. Instead of hiring a dog sitter or dropping your daughter off at daycare, you’ll be able to take care of your pets and kids while also getting to spend time with them.
Even though you may get to spend time with your relatives and pets, you may miss out on the social opportunities that come from working at an office.
Con #4: Relationships Are Harder to Form
If you’re home alone all the time, you’ll find it harder to form relationships, even if you constantly are Skyping your co-workers. No one will pop their head in your office and ask you about going to lunch or going for drinks after work.
If you’re an introvert, or have had your fill of mundane office chatter revolving around the weather, a new lunch hotspot or the last episode of Game of Thrones, then maybe isolation is exactly what you desire for your day-to-day. Yet even those who eschew workplace camaraderie (not to mention interpersonal drama, office politics and ill-advised romances) in favor of going solo may find themselves staring at their computer screen with an inexplicable feeling of dissatisfaction. You also cannot forget about how how personal collaboration, as well social bonds forged in the workplace, can lead to future opportunities, including a greater likelihood of promotion.
While the symptoms of isolation may be trickier to recognize, workplace burnout can happen when you’re home alone with your puppy sitting at your feet.
Pro #5: No Dress Code
Forget about taking your suit to the cleaners all the time, as your home dress code is whatever you want it to be.
Now, as alluring it is to wear your PJs (and maybe even skip the morning shower), you’re not going to be in work. Try and look presentable, though, to feel more productive working. Working in PJs all day could mean you’ll feel like at work and more at home, even if working from home.
Con #5: Difficulty Finding Out About New Projects That May Interest You
When you’re working from home, you don’t get face time with your coworkers, so it is more difficult to find out about new projects you might be interested in. There’s not as much room to collaborate when you work from home, so it’s really up to you to get the ball rolling on new projects.
If your work uses a remote messaging app, such as Slack or GChat, try and take advantage of that as often as you can. Not only will it help you learn more about projects which interest you, but you won’t feel as lonely and isolated working from home.
Pro #6: More Time to Do What You Love
Maybe you’re a creative type, or an accountant who dreams of becoming a developer; well, by working from home, you’ll have more hours in the day to transition your career efforts and take that nighttime coding class you’ve been wanting to take.
Want to take a month off for prime vacation time every year? By working from home, you just might be able to pull off this kind of adventure, either through working more the rest of the year to offset the lost hours (easier if you’re a freelancer or have a seasonal business) or by working remotely from your holiday vacation.
Of course, most people appreciate flexibility for more practical reasons: childcare, eldercare or simply the ability to be home when maintenance shows up.
Con #6: The Danger of Overworking
As improbable as this might sound, imagine that it’s 11 p.m. and you suddenly have a panic attack about work. It’s all too easy to go into your home office and work until 1 a.m. or even later. Maybe you work in sales, and your monthly quota needs to be met ASAP.
There can be less distinction between work and personal life when you work from home, which makes it harder to shut down and easier to keep working. Maybe you “stop” work at six to eat dinner but return to your office shortly after. Or, maybe you have your work email on your phone and constantly get notified when you get an email. As a metric, try and leave work in your office
What’s it going to be?
If you’re a nurse, well, it’s going to be a bit harder to work from home than if you work in marketing or journalism. If you have the option to work from home occasionally, though, you should definitely take advantage of it. If you work remotely all the time, you’ll see both the pros and cons, as you would from working in an office. Whatever your choice of work, the best idea is to make the most of it. If you don’t find yourself socializing on the job, reach out to co-workers, join a lunch-time soccer league, or seek opportunity to collaborate. Chances are, there is an opportunity, and you should take advantage of it!
Whilst there is no doubt many pros of this working policy such as the chance of a better work-life balance, financial savings in the form of no commute or buying lunch/that daily coffee and of course savings for the company in the sense of less desk space required in the office. This doesn’t always transpire and more often there are some costs associated with working from home that employees don’t initially factor in. It is no doubt very difficult to get into that “working mind set” that you wouldn’t have a problem with if you were actually going to work instead of walking into a different room in your house to sit down at your computer. This is where individuals begin to get the work-life balance mixed up as they work too little or too much negating the actual advantage they were looking for in the first place.
If working from home isn't something that will work for your employees then it may be worth considering coworking as a viable option for your business’s working environment.