Even though it’s become increasingly common, the idea of working from home still seems so glamorous and interesting to most people - if you’ve ever worked from home, then you’ll probably be well aware that it's far from both!
Whether it’s for a job that allows you to telecommute, or it’s for your own business, working from home long-term requires a certain mindset, a strong level of discipline, and absolutely requires great time management skills and systems to keep things running smoothly and ensuring work gets done.
You may be in the position right now of being given the chance to work from home for the first time, or maybe you’ve been doing this for a while already and are wondering if it’s the right choice for you long-term.
Regardless of the category you fall into, here's what I consider, from experience, to be the biggest benefits and pitfalls of working from so that you can make a decision based on what you feel is best suited to you.
Avoid the dreaded commute: As much as you may love your job, it’s doubtful that you enjoy the act of getting there each day if you work in an office. Not only can the commute to and from work be stressful and sometimes downright inconvenient and filled with no end of hold-ups, but it’s also adding an extra hour or two (at least) to your working day that you’re not getting paid for, and you’re probably losing money on.
One of the biggest work-from-home benefits is that you don’t have to go further than your living room.
You can work in your sweats: Sure, it’s pretty much a myth that the majority of people who work from home are sitting around in sweatpants - but it’s nice to have the option.
If you work from home, regardless of whether you’re employed or a business owner, nobody is forcing you to adhere to a dress code.
Flexible hours: Obviously this depends on whether you’re working from home as an employee or for yourself, and also on other factors, such as your profession and some other things, but generally when you work from home, you have more freedom over your time than someone who’s expected to show up from 9-5 each day.
Better work/life balance: Especially when you work for yourself, you can pretty much create your work schedule around your other commitments, such as family, and overall this leads to a much better and healthier work/life balance.
You can create your office: Don’t fancy being stuck in a bland cubicle or an office that’s designed to someone else’s taste? When you work from home, it doesn’t matter if you have a dedicated office space or are just using a corner of your bedroom, you can set it up in a way that you like, which can often lead to higher motivation and productivity.
No office politics: One of the best things about working from home is that you don’t need to be involved in or witness any of the typical office politics and drama - really, who has time for that?
Tax breaks: When you work from home, it doesn’t come without cost. Even if your employer is covering the cost of your basic equipment such as a computer and phone, you’re going to be incurring other costs like extra electricity and water that you’ll be using when you’re at home for those additional hours. Whether you work for a company or are a self-employed freelancer or business owner, you can claim some of these back through your taxes.
It can be lonely: If you’re introverted, working from home can be a good choice - but spending all day at home alone, especially if you’re not having to be in contact with clients or colleagues can get pretty lonely.
Switching off can be a challenge: One of the biggest challenges people have when working from home is it can be difficult to separate work from home unlike when you leave an office. A good way to deal with this is by ensuring you have a separate office, or even just dedicated working space.
Distractions are everywhere: From TV, internet, outside noise from neighbors, waste and rubbish removal services, and even people who think it’s okay to just stop by for coffee because they think that working from home doesn’t involve real work, there are a lot of distractions you’ll face, so you’re going to need a great deal of discipline, structure, and focus to make a success of working from home.