Weighing the pros and cons of working from home? Keep reading.
In a past life, getting approval to work from home was always a heated debate. And I’ll be honest; there’s a good argument on either side of the aisle.
In the end, remote work won me over and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve even graduated to passive income land –but there are still a few days every month where I experience a few working from home disadvantages.
Especially as a digital nomad who lives in the tropics, with all that entails.
In this article we’ll first look at different scenarios, and then jump into some working from home pros and cons to consider.
How Do You Work From Home?
“Telecommuting” generally falls into three camps, the pros and cons of working from home will vary for each;
- Remote employee
Being a remote employee comes with your typical employment structure, with permission to work from home full time or part time.
That means you’re still beholden to a company, and all the strings that come with it.
Telecommuting pros and cons will vary from job to job; you may have medical health benefits, work with a team, and/or be obligated to make yourself available during working hours.
In most cases your infrastructure requirements are met by your employer. You can write off half or all of your internet bill, they supply the laptop, as well as your phone service.
A freelancer generally trades their time for money; no company laptop, no health insurance, and jobs are results-based –which also means your schedule is typically more flexible.
Freelancers will do well to add up all of their monthly expenses and bake them into the cost of the services they provide.
As an entrepreneur, you’re likely a formal business owner and you may have your own outsourced team of freelancers to help manage your workload.
The life of an entrepreneur is much more flexible because you’re assuming the most risks. But it also means you don’t need to trade time for money.
In our circles, most of the entrepreneurs we know are successful drop shippers. They serve no client but themselves and make their own schedule. The income is passive for the most part, once the ball is rolling.
Much of the time, an entrepreneur’s job is all about maintenance.
On a personal level, I fall into the latter. I’m an entrepreneur with a background in drop shipping and affiliate marketing. I pay for my own health insurance, and I direct a small team of freelancers.
Weighing your own personal working from home pros and cons may be difficult if you can’t visualize the job in your head while you’re forming an opinion.
I recommend you take a look at what’s out there right now, waiting for you in the job market. We covered work from home jobs, salaries, and job descriptions in our guide to location independent jobs –bookmark it for when you’re ready.
Whatever you do, be wary of where you apply for a work from home job;
- Sites like Upwork skim 20% off your first $10k, per employer, before taxes
- “Free” job listing sites are “free as in beer”; the hangover is free, too
In my view, paying 20% off every pay cheque to Upwork is a bit much, and free remote job listings cost more in time than they’re worth. Most often they’re out of date, and you’re put on a virtual shelf with all of Asia like you’re a product on Amazon.
For these reasons, I’m a huge fan of Flexjobs.
Use the Flexjobs discount code “NOMAD” to bring the cost down to under $50/year. Hell of a lot better when compared to Upwork, you don’t need to install creepy screen monitoring software, and you can pick up the phone and speak to a human if you need to.
12 Pros and Cons of Working From Home
During the last two ass-in-chair jobs I had, both for web development firms, I had lengthy work from home vs office debates with my employers.
The company often comes first, so these debates were mostly over the virtues of working from home and whether or not it would be advantageous for the company.
I took notes on what my employer took issue with, and what aspects were the best working from home advantages.
Let’s start with the cons, and then follow them up with pros. I split these pros and cons of working from home 50/50.
Working From Home Disadvantages
1. Potential for Interruptions
If you don’t establish boundaries, a quality workspace, and an effective schedule, working from home can put you at a massive disadvantage.
Working from home with kids can be difficult for parental units, but it could also be considered an advantage, too.
Boundaries and scheduling are in order; snack time, nap time, and mom/dad activity time should be religiously adhered to so you can plan your day around them.
The kitchen can be a great workspace, but a den is better. Set something up with a door and little foot traffic.
Put your personal phone on mute, avoid your favourite streaming service, and consider having a shower or getting dressed first thing in the morning even though you don’t have to.
The routine and the “uniform” could do wonders for your mind and show those around you that today isn’t a slack day. That, and the nagging thought of knowing you still need to take a shower can affect concentration. Gross.
2. Unhealthy Lifestyle
There are a lot of disparate points on the list of what some might consider an unhealthy lifestyle. My readers are a diverse bunch and sometimes I think I’m a comedian.
Feeling lonely and lacking social interaction, not eating right or skipping meals altogether, hitting the bong too often, drinking on the job, getting into Twitter flame wars instead of working, Netflix binges, or heck –too much “procrastination sex”.
Working from home can be a total nightmare on your health.
Just like having a “real job”, make a ritual of preparing healthy lunches the night before. If you smoke, only do it during a scheduled time –or quit altogether. Don’t keep beer in the fridge, keep the cork in the wine bottle. Keep off social media, hide from your partner, and block access to Pornhub at a router level.
If you need a shot of dopamine, lift a kettle bell.
3. Productivity Drops
When you work from home you’ll discover point blank whether or not you’re all the “self-motivated, self-starter” type you think you are.
Office optics are a huge motivator –when one works on-site, a ‘sense of urgency’ is often demonstrated in everything they do.
When we walk, we walk a little faster. When we sit at our desk in an open setting, we always try to look busy.
It’s easier to just be busy than to fake it, but working at home with no one to raise your cortisol levels can lower your productivity.
Some turn to smart drug “nootropics” like Modafinil to boost productivity and focus, but that could lead to an unhealthy lifestyle.
4. Lower Perceived Value
Optics also play a massive part in your perceived value as an employee, freelancer, et al.
Out of sight and out of mind, and a lack of physical presence can have a negative affect on performance reviews, pay increases, promotions, award nominations, and so on.
This can be overcome with affirmative communication and quick responses, but you don’t want to appear as though you live in your inbox, either.
5. Missed Signals and Availability
For the employee; a glance across the office can offer a lot of insight about the status of a project, and being available for a quick impromptu coffee can present valuable opportunities.
When you become a satellite worker you lose access to all of this –and to stay on top, you’ll likely have to make up for it with regular coworker gossip calls.
Nurturing relationships with your coworkers via telephone, chat, or email can make up for gaps, but it won’t be the same. Attend meetings in person or over video wherever possible.
For the company; working remotely means they may feel like their access to you is limited or lacking, and not what the salary they pay you is worth.
Without systems in place to facilitate communication (virtual access), rolling them out may be an unattractive investment of resources.
Offer to help with writing SOP documentation and be proactive about helping others adopt them.
6. Knowing When to Stop
One of the biggest work from home cons I struggled with for years was learning when to shut it all down and get back to my real life.
When to stop checking emails, when to end the over time, and how to accept that my head wasn’t always under the guillotine –in other words, I didn’t have to make up for not being physically present by going over and above every single week.
Working longer hours than your peers will come with a number of disadvantages; it cheapens your perceived value, you get taken for granted, and it leads to a very unhealthy state of being.
When you’re working from home;
Be your most productive self on the clock, appreciate how you spend your time off the clock, and be mindful of the difference between these two states –even though they both happen in the same living space.
Working From Home Advantages
1. More Efficient
You’ll find out soon enough if this is a working from home advantage, for you –it’s not true for everyone, at least not at first.
The potential to get more work done is huge.
If you’re single or don’t have kids there may be less interruptions, less distracting office politics or cake days, and less checkups from a micromanaging boss or client.
In the privacy of your own home, you’ll be able to do all the things you know will make you a more efficient worker.
And you can spend more time in the field if you like, taking meetings face to face, without having to explain yourself.
2. No Commute
This work from home benefit is obvious, and maybe even more important in a post coronavirus world.
No commute means less time wasted in the morning, less exposure to stranger-danger, strong perfumes, sneaky fart crop-dusters, subway sardine cans, money spent on a taxi in inclement weather, gas, or a monthly transit pass.
It’s the biggest reward to relish over your morning cup of coffee.
3. Less Sick Days, If You Want
In Canada, working in an office meant calling in sick if I was under the weather because I could put others at risk. That didn’t sit well with me –I often negotiated no base salary for a higher commission when I did sales. No work meant no pay, full stop.
That’s right. I chose no base salary whenever I could, for the right commission. I love sales, and the planning that went into massive ecommerce projects before deals got inked.
With all my gear at home, getting sick didn’t mean missing a phone call or a scheduled live demo.
4. Creative Flexibility
Autonomy is another obvious thing to consider on your list of working from home pros and cons, I won’t rail on about this one. Nor will I brag about how I landed deals wearing nothing from the waist down, or how I made my sales numbers in between the sheets beside a beautiful human.
I loved working remotely before I stopped trading time for money altogether.
It was also when I got into calisthenics. Working from home means being able to work out before you’re too tired to do so.
A dry erase board at home is a must, too. All those ideas that flood into your mind when you’re alone are sublime.
5. Save All the Things
Groceries are cheaper than restaurants or work cafeterias. Gas is expensive. Coffee tastes better at home. Suits cost a pretty penny, work remotely and you might only need one or two as opposed to seven of them.
You could even deduct less off your salary for group health benefits, check this out.
Save money, save time, save your sanity, save your concentration, save the rat race for some other shlub.
6. Write Off Expenses
Depending on your situation, you may be able to expense things to your employer, or write off expenses on your taxes.
You also have more control over what to charge your clients (or how much time to give a task before it costs extra). This means that you can factor in all of your expenses when charging for your products or services.
When you’re evaluating these pros and cons of working at home, look into this one first. Add up all your expenses, throw in what an hour of your time is worth, and set your pricing accordingly.
Work From Home vs Office: Verdict
This one’s all on you –I’m asking, not telling. You’ve got your mind to make up, all I’d like to know is which way you decided to go. Tell your story in the comments, I’m listening.
There’s no question you’ll have to sharpen those digital communications skills, get familiar with online software whether it be Trello or a CRM. You’re going to have to prove yourself.
I covered all the work from home disadvantages first because, like anything we talk about on Hobo with a Laptop, it’s likely going to be more work in the beginning, not less.
Have no illusions and tuck those rose coloured glasses into the desk drawer. The cons of working from home are many.
How bad do you want it?
If you need a little help looking for work from home jobs, check out the following posts;
We also reviewed about a hundred remote job websites, you can explore that here.
Working at home pros and cons can be many –if you think we missed anything, we’d love to hear from you.