As with most things in life, there are pros and cons to working from home – here are the top ones I think you should consider if you’re considering taking the plunge!
I wrote this post for those who are considering running their own business from home but many of the pros and cons will apply if your employer will let you work from home.
I’ve put the Cons first, but don’t let that put you off – there are lots of nice Pros in the second half!
Never Get Away From Work
I’ve found this can be one of the biggest problems with working from home. Unless you are very strict, it can feel like you never escape from your work.
Even if you have a dedicated office, you’ll probably be able to hear the phone ringing through the house, and it’s very easy to nip in and finish a task at the weekend!
Need to be Self-Motivated
Working from home can be liberating, as you decide how and when you want to work. However, it can be easy to let things slide if there is no boss or co-workers for accountability!
It’s important to stay focused and not get distracted – either by the attractions of your home such as enjoying the garden or tv, by other people in your house, or by the Internet.
I’ve found that it’s very easy to surf the web “for a minute or two” and suddenly find that half an hour has passed!
There are lots of tools and apps available that can help you with time management and organisation, so this doesn’t have to be a problem.
I’ve also found it’s possible to connect with like-minded folks on the Internet who will act as your accountability buddies.
Can Get Forgotten (Especially in the Corporate World)
If you’re working as part of a team, and you’re the only one working from home, you can be easily overlooked by the office-bound team members.
You need to make sure that you are included in meetings (making good use of Skype). It’s also worth making the effort to get into the office regularly so they remember your face!
Another tip is to make sure you reply promptly to emails or phone calls so that the rest of the team don’t feel that you are “bunking off” when they try to contact you.
Can be Disturbed by the Other People in your House
You need to make sure that you have an area that is dedicated to your work, and that the rest of your household understands this.
I am lucky enough to have a separate room as an office, and I make it clear to everyone that if the door is closed, I am not to be disturbed (unless there is an emergency involving things like blood or fire!).
Distracting Sales Phone Calls
You’ll be amazed at the number of sales calls that come through to your home phone line during the day, and it can be distracting.
I get around this by using the answer phone as a filter. I leave it switched on all of the time, and only answer if the call is from someone I want to speak to.
The cold callers will hang up and others will leave a message.
Choose Your Own Hours
If you work from home you can choose your own working hours.
If you’re a busy Mum, you can fit your work into the hours when your children are at school (or asleep, if they’re tiny!).
Alternatively, you might prefer to work first thing in the morning before anyone is up, or late at night when everyone else has gone to bed.
Set up Your Workspace How You Like
One of the great things about working from home is that you can create your own workspace.
You don’t need to hide behind those drab cubicle walls or put up with a standard-issue office swivel chair.
You can put your desk (or table) in front of the window if you have a good view, or you can put your desk close to the wood-burning stove in the depths of winter (I love this one!). You can also hang your favourite pictures on the wall.
You can choose your own chair – it’s worth investing in a good supportive one, as you’ll spend a lot of hours sitting in it!
I love the fact that it takes only a few moments to get from the breakfast table to the office. It saves so much time, which I can spend with the family or on some self-care!
Also, there’s no stress – I haven’t had to spend an hour queuing in traffic, or standing on the train as I used to when I worked in London.
If you work from home, you don’t have to pay for fuel for your journey or buy a train ticket.
You can also save money by not buying snacks or lunch. You can prepare your own (healthy!) meals rather than eating in expensive restaurants or cafes.
Since I’ve been working from home I’ve found I no longer need to buy lots of expensive “work clothes”, so I have saved a huge amount of money.
Some people say it’s great that you can work in your pyjamas and no-one will know, but that doesn’t work for me.
I think it’s important to make myself presentable and neat, I just don’t need to be as formal as in the office. I may not see anyone all day long, but it can affect how I feel about myself, and I don’t want to feel scruffy or unkempt.
Work with your Pets
Every day is a “take your pet to work” day! You can have your faithful hound sitting under your desk, or your cute cat cuddling on your lap as you work.
Having a furry friend in the office can help if you’re feeling lonely working by yourself at home.
It’s scientifically proven that having a pet around relieves stress – stroking an animal or even just looking at one can lower blood pressure and help us live in the moment.
I love having Oscar sitting on his bed in the office, in front of the fire. He often makes me smile with his ridiculous sleeping positions!
You need to weigh up the pros and cons to decide if working from home is for you.
If you’ll feel lonely with no-one to talk to at the coffee machine, maybe you need to work in an office with other people.
If you relish the freedom of working when you want and have the motivation to keep working even when there is no-one else around, I think you’ll love working from home.