— May 20, 2019
With more than 5% of U.S. workers now working from home (source), an increasing number of employees and self-employed individuals are able to avoid daily commutes to the office.
Those who have always worked in an office may wonder what it’s like to work from home every day. In truth, it’s mostly positive (for the right person), but there are definitely some drawbacks as well.
As someone who’s been working from home for a while, I wanted to write this article to shed some light and the good and the bad as it relates to working from home.
1. You Can Save a Significant Amount of Time and Money
Probably the biggest benefit related to working from home is the time that you can save by not needing to commute every day. Many Americans drive 30-60 minutes (or more) each way, every day. That adds up to 5-10 hours per week! If you work from home, you can use that extra time to be with family, to pursue hobbies, to sleep more, or to spend more time working productively.
Marc Andre, a finance blogger at Vital Dollar who has been working at home for more than 10 years, said “Cutting out a daily commute has allowed me to have more time to focus on growing my business. I usually work about 50 hours per week, but it feels more like 40 because I have no commute and I can go straight to family time when I am done working.”
In addition to the time, you’ll also save money. You’ll save by using less gas, needing less maintenance on your car, and (possibly) reduced car insurance premiums. You may also save by not spending as much money on clothes for work and by eating lunch at home instead of heading to a restaurant.
2. The Environment of Your Home Office is Important
The specifics of your home office can go a long way in determining your level of productivity. Ideally, you should have a space in your home that is dedicated strictly for your office. It’s best if it is its own room where you can close the door and minimize noise.
If possible, the office should be in a spot of the house away from other distractions, especially if others will be in the house while you are working. A window for natural light is also extremely helpful.
Trying to work in an area of the home that doesn’t offer privacy or separation from others can be difficult and lead to lower productivity.
3. You’ll Need Discipline
Working from home requires you to be more disciplined in order to maximize productivity. There will be no boss looking over your shoulder. Some people thrive in this environment, and others struggle.
From my experience, one of the keys to being productive while working from home is to enjoy what you do.
When you enjoy your work, it’s a lot easier to stay focused and engaged. Trying to do a job that you don’t enjoy can be harder at home than in an office.
4. You’ll Face Distractions and Temptations
Working in an office and working from home both present distractions, but they are different. In an office, you may find that your co-workers to be distracting. At home, you won’t have the same distraction, but you will face other distractions and temptations.
If you’re easily distracted and you have a hard time staying on task without someone pushing you, you may be better off to work in an office setting.
5. You’ll Have Greater Flexibility
There’s no doubt that you’ll have greater flexibility working from home, but just how much flexibility can depend on your job. Remote workers who are employees may still have a lot of virtual meetings and schedules that are pretty rigid. Other employees and those who are self-employed will typically have more flexibility.
The flexibility can come in handy for anything from sick days, to time for appointments, to dealing with family schedules and everything else that happens in everyday life.
For a lot of people who work from home, flexibility is the number one perk. Whether you simply prefer to not be constrained by your schedule, work as a stay-at-home parent, need flexibility for health issues, or any other reason, this is a major draw to working from home.
6. Separating Work and Life Can Be Difficult
On the downside, working from home presents a significant challenge in establishing a healthy work-life balance. With your office right there, it’s easy to wind up working more hours than you intend, or to “check in” too much.
Although everyone loves the flexibility, maintaining consistent working hours is one of the best things you can do to separate work and life. Have a specific start and end time each day, and when you’re done, leave your office and close the door.
7. It’s Not for Everyone
Overall, working from home is a great option for many people, but the truth is, it’s not for everyone. If you would have a hard time working on your own with very little face-to-face interaction with others, it’s probably not the best option for you.
You’ll need to evaluate your own strengths and weaknesses to know whether you would thrive working from home, or if you would struggle. Others may find that working from home is a great option for a certain chapter in their life, but not something that they want to do for the rest of their career.
If you’re thinking about working from home, please consider all of these factors and decide if it would be a good fit for you.