Working from home isn’t for everyone and only you can decide if it’s right for you. And while your personal traits and home situation play a big part in whether it can work, it’s also worth considering the type of work you do and whether you have the equipment needed to do the job. But by making and sticking to some self-imposed rules, you can reap the rewards of working from home, while avoiding the pitfalls.
With technology allowing virtual offices to be set up almost anywhere with power and an internet connection, working from home is now a real choice for many people. Whether it’s running your own business or working out of home for an employer, it’s worth knowing that it can present almost as many challenges as rewards. To help if you’ve been offered this option, we look at some of the pros and cons of working from home.
One of the big advantages of working from home is that it signals the end of the daily commute. There’s less time spent travelling, which means you could be more productive. Rush hour traffic and overcrowded buses or trains can be a thing of the past. Apart from the big time savings, you’ll also save money on public transport fares, or parking and fuel, as well as the wear and tear on your car. Plus, if you run your own business there’s the opportunity to save money on office rent. And of course some of the fixed and incidental expenses shared with your home may be tax deductible, but always check with your accountant.
Working from home provides the ultimate in control and flexibility. In most cases, you can choose your hours and work during your most productive times. You may also have more control over workplace distractions, like co-workers and noise. Stress levels can better managed too – simply walk away or take a break when work gets out of control. And while working in your PJs probably isn’t a great idea, you can decide what you wear while you work.
A good work/life balance is now the goal for many people. Working from home can often deliver a great balance, especially if you have young children. You get to spend a lot more time with them, watching them grow and reach key milestones. All this adds up to a less stressful existence.
Working from home requires a massive amount of self-discipline and self-motivation. When there’s no boss or pressure to be at the office, dressed and ready to work each morning, getting started on work can be challenging. The key is to find a routine that works around any home commitments and that helps you overcome the temptation to procrastinate. As the only person in your home office, it’s entirely up to you to make the most of your time and stay busy.
A lack of face time with co-workers and colleagues means you may miss out on the usual camaraderie of the typical office setting. There’ll be no team lunches or daily banter about the weekend’s sport or last night’s TV, all of which can help make work that little bit more enjoyable. Working from home can get lonely, so it’s important to maintain your social network – the real face-to-face ones, not just Facebook.
The lines between work and home can often get blurred when you work from home. Your office can start to grow into other areas of your home. Having work that always needs doing in the next room can lead you to putting in too many hours as well. Escaping the office and going home is also harder, since you’re already there. Importantly, because there’s no one seeing you put in those long hours, you may be judged solely on the numbers you deliver, rather than your work ethic.
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