Is working from home permanently, better known as telecommuting, all it’s cracked up to be? If you’ve got an office job, then you know that working from home once in a while is amazing. Dicey weather, a case of the sniffles or a doctor’s appointment… all these scenarios make working from home preferable to taking a vacation day. But what is it like to work from home permanently?
Writing and editing affords me the luxury of working from home, which is really appealing and a benefit not offered by a lot of other careers. But do the benefits really outweigh the cons?
Pros of working from home:
With school-aged children (especially those who go to an early dismissal school) working from home is really important. My daughter S will be taking the bus, and being home when she gets on and off each day is a huge plus. There is after-school care available, but with a very long waiting list there is no guarantee she will get a spot. And if she doesn’t, I don’t know what we would do if I wasn’t working from home. Being home when she gets home from school is virtually impossible with a normal job, even one that offers flex time.
If you have kids in daycare or school, working from home means that when one is sick you don’t have to take time off — you can complete work when they’re napping or in the evening after they’ve gone to bed.
Working from home saves a lot of money. Not having to pay for after-school child care expenses (a savings of $17-35 a day depending on where you live) can really impact the household budget.
No commute means less wear and tear on your car, not to mention huge gas savings. Not driving to work is also much better for the environment.
At home there are no temptations to buy a daily coffee on the way in to work, or to spend money eating out at lunch. Also all office and work-related expenses are tax deductible.
Working from home offers a great balance between family, career, household responsibilities and personal time. Creating your own schedule from day-to-day is appealing, and being able to throw in a load of laundry during breaks is really efficient.
Rolling out of bed, no commute, working in comfy clothes… how amazing! Having all the comforts of home while at work is truly a dream.
Cons of working from home
Too much time at home, especially when you’re alone can play with your mental state. It is good to get out and socialize with people, which is difficult when you’re working from home. So if you do stay at home it’s important to stay connected with your community. Try volunteering during your downtime. Go for a walk, spend time at the gym or yoga studio. Make sure you don’t end up spending too much time at home.
Separate work space
If you’re telecommuting you really need to have a private work space that is separate from the rest of your home. This is important so that you can put work down and relax when you’re not working. You also don’t want your spouse or children to get into to your documents, reference materials or other work-related items. If they do, important items can be easily lost, misplaced or coloured over.
If you have a spare bedroom consider turning it into an office. Spend your working day in the office, taking breaks, and you’ll find you’re much more productive than if you’re working from your kitchen table. If you don’t have a spare bedroom or room that you can dedicate to an office space then consider separating an area by sectioning it off with an indoor privacy screen, Japanese shoji screen or other creative barrier so you have a room of your own.
Missing the office drama
When you’re working from home you will definitely miss out on the office culture and related drama that helps bond teams and form workplace friendships. Missing out on this socialization is a negative in most work environments. However, if you can find a workplace that understands and appreciates the importance of productivity and values employees who work from home, then this won’t be too much of an issue.
In fact, according to Katherine Zaleski, many working mothers are choosing to work from home because they are often excluded from the typical off-hours office culture of their male-dominated workplaces. Her article, I’m sorry to all the mothers I worked with, which appeared online in Fortune Magazine on March 3, 2015, discusses the benefits of working from home for parents as well as the telecommuting job opportunities that are available to working mothers.
Office expenses are your expenses
Although office expenses are tax deductible, when you work from home they are still your expenses. Office furniture and equipment like a computer, printer, etc… is all going to come from your pocket. And don’t forget additional fees like phone, internet and even postage.
There is no “I” in team
A benefit of working in an office with a team is that you can rely on your co-workers for help, support, motivation and inspiration. When you’re working from home you really are on your own and it can be isolating.
If you’re working for a company with a lot of other telecommuters make sure you get in touch with them over Skype, email or other electronic means so that you can get the important support that co-workers provide. Don’t wait until the weekly or monthly Skype meeting to reach out, especially if connecting will help you or your co-workers become more creative, productive or efficient.
In the end working from home is a personal choice. It might be a great scenario for some people, but a nightmare for others. Think about the pros and cons, and talk to your family before you make a decision to switch to a telecommuting job.