Working from home sounds like a dream to many – the flexibility, avoiding the commute, having more freedom. In some peoples’ eyes it’s even considered a luxury. However, it’s not all rainbows and relaxation.
Whether you’re freelancing or are a full-time remote employee, there are both ups and downs to telecommuting.
It also isn’t something that’s right for everyone. Some may feel more productive in a comfortable, home environment. For others, working home can lack structure and/or feel isolating.
Before setting up that home office, it’s important to take certain things into consideration – especially how you’ll handle work/life balance.
The Pros of Working from Home
First off, we’ll look at the highlights of working from home. These can improve your quality of life in several ways if telecommuting is a logical and feasible option for you.
1. You won’t need to worry as much about your wardrobe.
While you may need a few nice outfits for office visits and/or video conferences, your wardrobe largely doesn’t matter. You’re typically free to work in whatever’s most comfortable to you – even if that’s sweatpants and a stained t-shirt.
Comfort isn’t the only perk though, you also won’t have to spend much money on a work-appropriate wardrobe. Instead of investing in business wear, you can save that money for more important things.
2. It can be less stressful.
Introverts and self-starters who work well without a need for much guidance may be less stressed in a home environment. For those who become agitated by workplace distractions or struggle with imposing managers, telecommuting can provide much relief.
For some, the home is a positive environment in which they are able to do their best, most efficient work.
3. There’s often more flexibility.
In most cases, working from home affords employees (and freelancers, especially) a certain level of flexibility. This can mean working at a more comfortable pace and using time more productively. For those with certain responsibilities outside of work, it can also make schedules more manageable.
For parents, it could mean picking up the kids from school and not needing to rely on aftercare services. Pet owners can spend more time with their animals. And things like doctor’s appointments often don’t require taking as much time off.
4. There’s no commute necessary.
Sitting in traffic can take up far more of our time than we’d like. For those who work standard office hours, driving to and/or from work during rush hours can be especially time-consuming.
Not only does working from home save time, it can also save money. Without a commute, there’s clearly a lot of room to save on both fuel and vehicle maintenance. So, those who telecommute tend to benefit greatly both in terms of free time and daily travel expenses.
The Cons of Working from Home
While all those positive aspects may sound really nice, telecommuting is certainly not without its downsides, too. For some, like those who need a highly structured environment, it’s nearly impossible to work from home.
1. Work/Life balance can be a serious struggle.
For many people who work from home, one of the greatest challenges is managing their work/life balance. This means properly utilizing your time so that your work gets completed without it cutting into your free time.
When you’re off the clock, you shouldn’t still be working. However, for some people it’s difficult to “leave work” when home is also the office.
2. There’s a lot of self-discipline required
It may sound like a dream to work in your PJs, but what’s great in theory doesn’t always work in practice. Some people really do require structure and routine in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Those who are prone to procrastinating and people who are easily distracted can quickly get behind on work. If one’s home is not an atmosphere that’s supportive of their work, it can also lead to lackluster performance.
That’s why it’s important to be organized, have clear goals, and stick to some sort of schedule.
3. It can be isolating and lonely.
You may not love your coworkers, but working without them around can get surprisingly lonely. Without a healthy work/life balance and an active social life, working from home can become incredibly isolating.
Sure, you may have pets or kids, but it isn’t the same as being around friends or coworkers. Many folks really do need the social stimulation offered by a traditional workplace.