Working from home is nothing new. Remote jobs have become more widely available over the years and can offer the same benefits as a job that requires you to work on-site. However, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns, there are pros and cons when working from home.
As many of us have seen within the past two years, working from home has its challenges and downsides. It’s important to have realistic expectations about the idea of working from bed in your pajamas and also consider how it might affect your productivity and income.
Here are some key pros and cons to keep in mind whether you’re looking to start working from home or are wondering if it’s right for you long-term.
1. Pro: No Commute
One of the immediate benefits you’ll experience when you start working from home is not having to deal with a daily commute. You’ll instantly save yourself time and money each day. Even if your commute to work was only 30 minutes, that’s an hour round trip that you can add back to your schedule.
This adds up to 5 hours back into your schedule during a typical work week. Or, count it as 20 hours per month, or 240 hours per year, and that’s a lot of time that you’ll win back.
With fuel costs being so high these days, you’ll receive some savings there as well. Another potential benefit of eliminating your commute is reducing the temptation to buy breakfast and coffee in the morning. Since you’ll be staying home, you have to go out of your way to go through the drive-through now, and this is a good thing.
2. Con: Less Social Contact With Colleagues
As an introvert and someone who’s been working from home for five years now, I didn’t realize the feelings of isolation and loneliness I’d encounter. If you like having coworkers and face-to-face interactions with others, you may find it challenging to work from home by yourself.
What helps is being part of a remote team that communicates regularly via channels like Slack, Skype, and Zoom and also has virtual team-building socialization opportunities. You can also work at a coffee shop a few days per week or join a coworking space. A coworking space is a workplace atmosphere designed for people who work remotely.
You typically pay a monthly fee to use the space, or your employer might pay for you. With coworking spaces, you can come and go as you please, use the office equipment, and even participate in social activities and events hosted at the office.
3. Pro: More Flexibility Regarding Your Schedule
Having more freedom over your work schedule is one of the best parts of working from home. Some companies will allow you to select your shifts or choose the days you work. If you’re a contract worker or business owner, you may have complete control over your work hours so long as you meet deadlines and complete projects for clients.
This makes it easier to run errands, take care of your kids, do household chores, and free up more time for yourself. When I used to work a 9-to-5 job, I found it hard to schedule a doctor’s appointment or even get groceries. When you work from home, you don’t always have to deal with the pressure of requesting to leave work early for a necessary doctor’s appointment. Instead, you can have more autonomy over your schedule and even catch up on house projects or laundry during your breaks.
4. Con: Higher Risk of Over or Under Working
When you work from home, it’s so easy to lose structure when organizing your day. Too much freedom over your schedule can mean an increased risk of working too much or not enough. Let’s say you decide to sleep in too many days or have a long two-hour lunch with your friend and fall behind at work. While you might have enjoyed that extra time spent doing something relaxing or fun, you’ve created a stressful work environment for the future.
Or, perhaps you find it all too easy to keep your computer out all day long and start overworking. During my first month of working from home and becoming self-employed, I worked all 30 days. Not having a day off and always being tied to my laptop was exhausting. It’s essential to set an official schedule even though you have flexibility. Also, consider creating a designated office space and decide ahead of time when you’ll do a hard stop and officially end your workday.
5. Pro: Better Work-Life Balance
Remote work is here to stay. In fact, 50% of Americans who worked remotely during the pandemic said they’d like to work from home at least part of the time permanently. One reason contributing to this decision is the opportunity to spend more time with loved ones.
Even if you work a 40-hour workweek from your home office, you’ll still save on commute time and may be able to work flexible hours. This can translate to more availability to do things like have dinner with your family at the kitchen table each night, pick your kids up from school, and so on. Of course, spending more time with loved ones ultimately relies on your ability to be productive and stick to a solid schedule.
6. Con: Distractions That Eat Into Your Work Time
Distractions are everywhere, but it’s a little easier to get back on track when you’re working in a traditional office setting. There are supervisors and managers to hold you accountable, as well as coworkers who are relying on you to do your part.
When you work from home, there’s hardly anything stopping you from going down a Twitter or Netflix rabbit hole for two hours. Distractions like television shows, pets, a phone call or text, social media, or even the doorbell can cause you to lose precious time in your workday at home.
Once you’re distracted, it takes about 25 minutes to get back on track on average. So, if you spend an hour on social media, you’re bound to lose out on 90 minutes. It’s important to have self-discipline and boundaries when working from home. This is especially true if you’re self-employed. Unlike a W2 job, your pay isn’t guaranteed, and if you don’t produce results or complete projects, you won’t make any money.
Is Working From Home Right For You?
Ultimately, working from home is not better than working in an office or another location for a company. It’s solely a personal preference, and you have to weigh the pros and cons carefully. Realize that your personality type is unique, and be honest about what you feel comfortable with.
If you start telecommuting, are you going to be able to set a schedule and stick to it? Will you make time for physical activity and movement, especially if you’ll be on the computer all day? How will reduced social interaction at work impact you? There are personal questions that only you can answer.
For the most part, people who work from home love it, but that’s because they’ve found a position and schedule that truly works for them after some trial and error. There are so many remote jobs and careers out there to choose from. If the pros outweigh the cons, consider pursuing this evolving way of earning a living. Just commit to it by your own will.
What are your thoughts on working from home? Do the pros outweigh the cons?
I’m absolutely all for flexibility and having a better work-life balance. I also love not having to leave home to get my work done (it just simplifies my life and cuts down on time spent traveling to work.) Plus, when I’m feeling introverted, working from home is a godsend. Thanks for this post!
Not seeing co-workers is one of my pros lol – in all seriousness, I love your site and daily emails and have followed you forever. Great tips. Work from homer since 2001 and will be for life.
Holly Reisem Hanna
I get it, I’m an introvert and thrive at home, but a lot of people miss the social interaction.
Thanks for being a long-time reader, appreciate it. 😊
My department finally started a trial of telecommuting.
While common for many organizations and departments there are advantages when people work together in the workplace. I find that Information is shared more frequently and people tend to bounce ideas off people on a seconds notice. Additionally, if someone overhears something, they can add value or point to another great resource. Within the group I work in, this happens ALOT!
Another downside not pointed out is that, if you are out of sight and sound you can easily be out of mind when it comes time for layoffs. Demonstration of “getting stuff done” is essential when working from home because managers tend to protect their “fiefdom” that they create. When VPs don’t see people managing people oftentimes the manager is at risk of being let go him/herself.
I am a fan of telecommuting but it doesn’t work for every situation. I DEFINITELY think it enables people to better manage the increasingly more difficult situation of work/life balance with dual income households.