Working from home is an absolute dream for many people, and often summons up mental images of days spent lounging around in a comfortable tracksuit, and doing small bouts of work in between long, luxurious periods of idleness and relaxation.
Of course, that’s not quite the reality of the situation, and while working from home can certainly be an incredibly positive experience, it pays to know what you’re getting into before taking the plunge into the remote working lifestyle.
Here are a few of the pros and cons of working from home.
Pro: You’re the master of your own space
In an office there are certain things that are frowned on. Turning up in your pyjamas, redecorating, and throwing your feet up on the desk to settle into the working day, all feature on that list.
When you’re working from home, on the other hand, you are the unquestioned master of your own space. You’re in a familiar, comfortable environment, where all of your preferred appliances, amenities, foods, and digital devices are within easy reach.
You can wear exactly what you want, work in any part of the house you feel like, and no one’s going to give you a professional reprimand for any of it.
Con: It can get pretty lonely
On the flip-side of being the master of your own space, is the fact that you’re likely to start feeling lonely during the working day, without colleagues to share gossip with, and a sense of direct connection to the wider world around you.
This issue is a bit easier to bear if you’ve got an active out-of-work social life, or a live-in partner, but it can still hit pretty hard. If you’re a single who doesn’t get out much, it can be downright devastating.
Every successful remote worker needs to find their own solutions to this issue, whether it be working from a shared office space, or finding a way to spend more time socializing on evenings and weekends.
Pro: You can step out anytime you want
In a regular office, there are certain rules for how much break time you get, and when you can take it. Deciding to just up and leave the building for half an hour in the middle of the day, curl up on the floor for a nap, or have a 3-hour lunch, are heavily discouraged.
When you’re working from home, on the other hand, you’re in complete control of how you spend your time. If you want to get out in the middle of the day to do some grocery shopping, you can. If you want to check printing programs later, and take a nap now, or decide on meeting a friend at a local cafe for an impromptu coffee break, it’s all possible.
As long as you’re meeting your deadlines and targets, no one has to know how you spend your time.
Con: You’ve still got to get things done
Being in complete control of how you spend your time isn’t just a blessing. In fact, it can easily end up feeling like a curse when you realise that having no timetable imposed on you by an employer means that you become the person who has to impose the timetable on yourself.
Whatever industry you’re in, and whatever project you’re working on, there will be deadlines that have to be met and activities which have to be performed.
While there may be no one to stop you from taking a 3 hour lunch break and a nap in the middle of the day, there’s also no one to help you if you miss your deadline as a result, or find yourself having to work through the night until 5:00am in order to get your work done.
Every successful remote worker has to become a successful timetabler, or else be comfortable with working at extremely irregular times. You’ve got to “be your own boss”.
Pro: Your commute time is 0 minutes 0 seconds
Ever found yourself staring out the rain-streaked window of a bus, like some character from a sad movie, and thought about all of the great things you could do with your day if you didn’t have to waste so much time commuting to and from work?
Well, when your home and your office are the same place, your total commute time will equal exactly zero minutes and zero seconds. Well, ok, maybe about a minute or two if you factor in the time it takes to walk from your bedroom to your office area.
Cutting out commuting times can be a life changing thing in and of itself. It can easily end up freeing up a couple of hours in your day, which can be just enough to spend cooking delicious meals, curling up with a good book, working on a side-hustle, or anything else.
For those with sadistically long commute times, especially, this is probably one of the biggest draws of the self-employed lifestyle.
Con: It’s harder to maintain work-life balance
If your workplace is your home, that pretty much also means you sleep in your office. It’s all a matter of perspective.
Work-life balance one of the most important things for maintaining a happy, sane existence, not to mention keeping friends and family content at the same time.
When you’re working from home, it can be much harder to strike that balance. If you procrastinate too much during the day, it only means you have to work longer, and cut into time you could have spent cuddling up with your significant other. If you have a big project that’s taking up a lot of your attention, it’s all too easy to find yourself digging out your laptop and working on it at all hours of the day or night.
If you’re not careful, you can find yourself in a position where the work never seems to really end, and the relaxation never seems to really begin.
You’re going to have to fight for your work-life balance even harder, if you’re working from home.