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What Are the Pros and Cons of Working from Home?

Updated on October 29, 2012
Work from home
Work from home | Source

It’s nice to dream.

Picture this: You wake up in the morning half an hour before you start your work day. You are able to shower, dress, and have enough time to have a nice hot cup of coffee before getting down to business. Twenty years ago a corporate employee would not be able to do this without a transporter beam, a food replicator, and a TARDIS.

However, nowadays, corporate workers are doing it at least once a week.

How? They are working from home.

It is now becoming not only more and more accepted to work from home, companies are encouraging it. The reason being that the workers have a better work/life balance and from the company’s expenses they don’t need to buy as much office real estate. It is the employee who is using his own electrical utilities, paying for his connection through his own ISP, and using his own office supplies to do his job. All the employer needs to do is provide the worker his own secure laptop and the proper credentials to login.

What does the worker get out of it? More sleep, better productive time, and a way to get more work done without having to worry about a messy commute.

That’s the theory, anyway.

The Pros of Working from Home

Ask most people who work from home and they’ll say that they love it. They have some reduced stress from not commuting and some are more productive. If they are working on something that requires intense concentration they can work longer and harder hours.

The amount of money saved is substantial. There are no bus tickets, train tickets or gas that you have to buy. Your “commute” consists of your bed to your laptop. Hey, if you even wanted to be daring you could work in your pajamas (just make sure that you don’t go on a video chat).

Lunches could not be less expensive, you can eat right and get the food YOU want to eat. When you think about how much money you spend eating out or the substandard food you make even when you brown bag it, you can’t help but win if you make your own food.

Family men get to spend more time with their spouses and kids. And they have a chance to spend real quality time – which is priceless.

Where do you work: Home or Office?

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The Cons of Working from Home

Sometimes, it’s not what it’s cracked up to be.

While the sleeping late and free time to work is really attractive, traditional office workers may not get the attention they want, especially if they are trying to climb the corporate ladder. There’s an old saying, “empty chairs don’t get promotions.” In this case, there is some merit to that. There’s no way your boss can see that you’ve arrived early only to stay and make an impact after hours.

I’m also a big fan of synergy. I like to know the person I’m working with. If there’s a chance to buy a co-worker a beer (or receive one for that matter), you can build a good give and take relationship. There is something missing from the impersonal IM chats and video conferences with co-workers that may or may not be faceless. I really put some stock in the effectiveness of camaraderie at the office.

Plus, you never know where good inspiration will strike.

The other problem with working from home is that some people have a problem or inability to realize that just because you’re at home you can do household chores as well. This is not what you want to get wrapped up in. It is very tempting to start on the “honeydew” list but it is just poison for your career.

There is also the matter of getting interrupted in the middle of doing a professional job. Kids may not understand that just because you see “Daddy” doesn’t mean he’s available for a game of ball. Or, not to leave you ladies out, just because “Mommy” is home doesn’t mean she’s going to drop everything to listen to your problem. You have to have yourself treated like a mirage.

So the matter of effective working is really the question.

Final Words

It takes all kinds to work as a professional.

Some people need that office environment. Some people need to be recognized for their hard work and be visible to climb the corporate ladder. Others have priorities in a more personal venue.

What I recommend is a blend of both. If you can, balance it with some days in the office and some days at home. Be in the office to make those critical and productive contacts and meet the members of your team who will be able to help you work more effectively.

After all, despite where you are actually doing it, it’s still called work. If it wasn’t they’d call it something else.


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    • cperuzzi profile image

      Christopher Peruzzi 5 years ago from Freehold, NJ

      A definite problem of working from home is establishing working hours. While you can certainly be uber productive working way past the five o'clock mark, if you are on contract with a corporation that allows working from home, some managers will try to take advantage of your time.

      I recommend that you make a point of communicating your hours and that anything after your allotted time is billable (for contracted employees, obviously. Salaried employees are screwed). I just recently had a project manager that decided my hours were her hours and she called a meeting at 4:58 for 5:PM on a Friday. The choice you make at that point is either a political move or a line in the sand.

      Establish working hours and know the meeting that are important versus the ones someone else deems urgent.

    • watergeek profile image

      watergeek 5 years ago from Pasadena CA

      That is true of me also, Michael. I end up "working" until 3:00 AM only to realize I was so tired during half that time, that I wasn't getting anything done. The other thing that bothers me is that I'm very social. This ties in with what you said about knowing who you're working with, Chris. I worked at home with a company for over a year and felt like I wasn't really part of the company. Now I'm working for myself and have to make sure I get out regularly, including walks and coffee at Starbucks (where I know people). You've nailed it well, Chris.

    • Michael Smathers profile image

      Michael Smathers 5 years ago from LaGrange, GA

      Another problem with working from home is the exact opposite of what you would expect, and I've been struggling to overcome it.

      Freelancers or those who don't have set work hours can easily fall into the mindset of 'time not spent working is wasted.' After all, you have no set vacation time. So you have to take care to make time for relaxation as well as remain disciplined about your work. In fact, remain disciplined about your relaxation time. All work and no play, y'know.

    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran 5 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Good advice Chris. I have written extensively on this subject and you hit the key points on the head. "Honeydew" is a big problem and your family members need to know that you are at work. Another suggestion I would make is to get out of the house, preferable first thing in the AM if even just to buy a cup of coffee. Also, don't neglect exercise and NEVER work in your bathrobe. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy here in the East, a lot of people are getting to test this of necessity.

    • Relationshipc profile image

      Kari 5 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      My husband works in an office, and when he does get a chance to work from home he is MUCH more productive. No co-workers bothering him with useless questions or chatter.

      I work from home on a full-time basis, and I do love it. I have no children, but I do have dogs that don't understand I don't want cuddle time. Unfortunately, the local library is filled with annoying, sick, and distracting people and coffee shops are very hard to concentrate on. However, I think this is a con of working in an office...there is nowhere else to go.