Working from Home: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

It’s not hard to imagine the benefits of working from home. Things like comfort, less stress, time, and freedom instantly come to mind but until you’re actually there, it can be difficult to think of the downsides.

So today, I will share with you several truths I have learned about working from home. Everything from the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good:

Freedom – I believe that the idea of freedom is the single most important reason why many people make the choice to work from home. Freedom from rigid schedules, freedom from corporate policies, freedom from long traffic commutes, the list goes on and on. Working from home typically gives the person more say over their own schedule. If they want to take off a half day or even a weeklong vacation, it’s much easier to do so. The idea of being your own boss and taking control of your own career is tempting; and thanks to technology, telecommuting from virtually anywhere in the world is now easier than ever before.

No Dress Code – Who cares about “Casual Fridays” when you work from home? Every day can be a casual day. Wear whatever you like. After all, you don’t have to worry about anyone making fun of your monkey PJ’s!

Learning Opportunities – You will have the opportunity to learn more than ever before when working at home. First, because you will be exposed to new technologies and concepts. And also because you won’t necessarily have the benefit of an in-house IT or marketing team like you would if you worked in a traditional office.

The Bad:

Productivity – So you’re sitting at your desk, you turn around and notice the basket of laundry that still needs to be sorted and hung. Then when walking back to your desk, you see the sink full of dishes that have to be dealt with right away. Oh and don’t forget that you still have to bake those cupcakes for the bake sale at school. Get my point? Professional offices are set up for success and don’t have the distractions and responsibilities of home.

Discipline – If you expect to be productive working from home, you must be highly disciplined and motivated to succeed. Without these qualities, distractions like TV, cleaning, and Facebook will make productivity a serious challenge. Point blank, make a schedule and stick to it.

Health – Remember how temping the vending machine was at the end of the hallway near your office? Those peanut butter cups were just calling your name.  Well, that temptation might be even worse when you are at home all day near your fridge and pantry. It’s right there, tempting you, all the time. Weight gain is not uncommon for those who work from home. Plan for this, and figure out a way to deal with it. Keep a few healthy snacks and drinks nearby for this reason. And don’t forget to take regular breaks to stretch and be active.

The Ugly:

Assumptions – The fact is some people won’t respect what you do – not even a little. They won’t understand it and will recommend that you get a “real job”. You may even get questions like “what do you do with all that free time you have?”  or “how do I get an easy job like that?”. When in reality you were up until 2am the previous night working while most people were sleeping. On the other hand, some people will be amazed at what you have accomplished and will be inspired to do the same.

Loneliness – There’s no office picnics, no company holiday parties, no team building retreats. You get the idea. Unless you have a position where you are regularly seeing people, on most days it will be just you and the cat. And the cat doesn’t care about your work. If you are an extroverted person and crave social interaction, be sure to schedule activities for yourself outside the home.

Finances – Depending on your work from home arrangement, there may be serious changes to your finances. Unless you are telecommuting full time for another company, you will need to consider that you may no longer have health insurance, 401k, life insurance and short term disability policies like you may have had in the past. Not to mention that you may also be facing a pay cut, at least temporarily anyhow.

Working from home can be an amazing way to balance your personal and professional life but much like anything else there are drawbacks too. And these drawbacks apply to pretty much anyone working from home, regardless of whether you are self-employed or telecommuting in your 9-5.

The fact is, it’s not for everyone. If you think working from home is all about lying around in your PJs, working when you want to and basically, just having fun all year long, think again. Working from home can be a lot of fun but it requires a commitment to be successful. Do you have what it takes?

 

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