In July of this year, I began to work from home for the first time, as an independent consultant. I had no clue what to expect but it took me no time at all to identify some clear advantages and disadvantages.
You might consider working from home for a variety of reasons: childcare arrangements, your health situtaion, or a desire to start up your own small business, among others.
Let me tell you what I’ve discovered about this arrangement so far, so you can catch a glimpse of what it’s really like.
Why don’t I get the bad news out of the way:
C1: It can be tough to get your head in the game.
There’s something to be said about going to a place that is dedicated to work. It kicks you into gear, and you quickly can immerse yourself in whatever professional projects lie ahead of you. It didn’t take me long to figure out that, when working from home, I would have to be extremely disciplined and learn to resist the urge to turn on the TV, surf the web, or bake muffins. I needed to develop my focus. It takes some getting used and I still occasionally struggle, but it’s doable. If you’re the kind of person who needs someone there to keep you in check, working from home is not for you. At least not yet.
C2: There’s no one to high five but my boyfriend’s dog. Now, it depends on the person, but for a social creature such as myself, it can be hard not to have colleagues around with whom to share accomplishments and disappointments. An extra effort has to be made to satisfy the craving for human interaction, accepting that most of your friends are at their place of work during the day.
C3: There’s little reason to leave the house. If you aren’t careful, it can get very Howard Hughes, very fast. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch “The Aviator”.
Now here’s the fun stuff, the perks that make it worthwhile:
P1: The perfect work environment is yours to create. Blast those tunes, paint it pink, keep it a cool 16°C, surround yourself with pictures of pugs if you wish! Of course I haven’t created mine, cause that would require effort. But I’m content knowing that I could, if I really wanted to.
P2: You save a bunch of time and money on transportation. How much does your daily commute cost you in bus fare, gas money and time you could be spending on more rewarding things? Spending time with your loved ones, volunteering for a cause you believe in or, more realistically, sitting in front of another episode of America’s Next Top Model. Not to mention it’s a perk for Mother Earth!
P3: You save money on eating out. When I worked in an office, I would frequently omit to pack a lunch. Heck! Even if I did, I would go buy food just for the change of scenery. I even ritualized it. All my former colleagues are familiar with “Cookie Friday” (which eventually branched out to pretty much every work day). I even got folks to join me, further validating my snack-oriented outings and turning them into social events to look forward to.
P4: You can get your pesky chores done when taking breaks from work. Nothing worse in my books than coming back from work and having to clear, clean and pay bills.
P5: There’s no need to dress up for work. Now I hesitated to list this as a perk for a few reasons: A) For those who are pro-shopping, you lose an excuse to buy nice things; B) You might want to dress up anyways to help put you in character(see C1); and C) Refer to C3. All things considered, it’s a nice perk to get to spend the day in flannel pj pants and an old Ninja Turtles t-shirt.
And, if I’m totally honest…
P6: It makes people jealous.
Hopefully this has given those of you considering working from home more to chew on, and the office dwellers amongst you a glimpse at how the rest of us live.
If you work from home, let me know! It would be great to share tips.