Working From Home – Pros, Cons & My Tips

With Christmas festivities over, I’ve been contemplating my work situation as I’ve been working from home, full time for the last 2 years. The ability to work from the comfort of your own home is something that many people wish for. With all of the advances in the different technologies we rely on, it is becoming easier and easier every day for that wish to come true for many people.

Working from home can be an excellent choice to make. The decision to do so, however, is not one that should be made lightly. It is always a good idea to take some time to weigh the pros and cons of any new situation before diving right in, as it’s not all beer & skittles.

Pros:

  • There is no commute time. The average commute time for most Americans is about thirty minutes – though some may spend closer to an hour or more going to and from work. Working from home cuts out the hassle of traveling and gives you extra time to get more work done, go for a morning jog, cook the family breakfast or simply get a little more sleep.
  • There is no dress code to follow. While you shouldn’t stay in your pajamas all day – because studies have shown that doing so can actually make you less productive – you don’t need to worry about formal office attire or getting suits dry-cleaned. For some, this is the biggest draw to working from home.
  • You’ll end up saving some money. Dropping the daily commute from your schedule saves you not just time, but money on gas as well! Plus, working from home lets you save the money you would have spent dining out, by allowing you to simply walk to your kitchen for something to eat – much cheaper than purchasing lunch 5 days a week.

Cons:

  • You need to be an extremely self-disciplined and self-motivated person. The allure of not having a boss breathing down the back of your neck to stay on task and get your work done is something that draws many people to working from home. However, a lot of people find it rather difficult to be productive when they don’t have someone keeping them on track.
  • There is a chance you could work too many hours some days or simply overwork yourself in general. When you don’t have set office hours to leave and go home – or to take a badly needed vacation – it can be easy to work yourself too much.
  • Keeping your work and family separate can be difficult. It is important to make sure that your work doesn’t interfere with allowing you to spend time with your family. Just because working from home gives you the ability to work 24/7 doesn’t mean that you should do it.
  • Lack of social interaction. This can be the biggest adjustment of all as there is no-one to chat to. IM such as Skype with remote work colleagues really helps, especially if you can also use the voice function to have quick calls.

After 2 years I have a few personal tips if you’re considering working from home, or already are:

  • Have a separate room for a home-office with lots of natural light.
  • Position your desk/monitors 90 degrees to the window – this avoids eye strain and glare.
  • Set some regular “work hours”. Outside of those times keep the door shut.
  • If you have children, set strict rules that if the office door is shut no-one is to open it.
  • Get out of the house at least once/day, even if it’s just to walk around the yard. With no need to actually go anywhere, it’s easy to stay seated all day and then sit on the couch at night – not good for your health.
  • Take a lunch break. Try and meet up with someone once/week for some social interaction.
  • If you find yourself getting distracted easily, work for 20-30 minutes at a time with a 5 minute break between (there’s a name for this but I forget what it is!)
  • The final tip is the best – each morning write down what you must get done that day, and do that first. This stops you from working into the evening, just because you can.

In weighing it all up, I’m very happy with how it’s going and am in no rush to change back to an office job. While it might seem like an easy choice to make, working from home is simply not for everyone. So, if you are contemplating working from home, make sure to consider all of the pros and cons for your situation before making a final decision.

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