Pros and Cons of Working From Home

Working from home—sounds like a dream come true, right? But there is more to it than meets the eye.

For many people the idea of working at home seems to be so much better than working in an office, but is it really? Wouldn’t working from home be much easier and flexible? Plus no more traffic! With recent advances in technology, including the web, email, intranet capabilities, cheaper fax machines and voicemail, some people rarely go into the main office anymore. Working out of your home is a mixed blessing, though.

Be warned. Working from home, whether you’re an employee or self-employed, has some pros and cons you should be aware of before you make the leap.

Saving money is the number one reason people decide to work from home. With skyrocketing rents and other hidden costs (security, employees), the expense of an office is a hefty slice of profits every month. Instead of putting the profit toward rent, you can re-invest it back into your own business.

Additionally, you can work from anywhere and everywhere. You can also pick your own hours and no need for a uniform! Flexibility also enlarges the applicant pool. Being open to workers located much farther away, you improve the chance of you having a highly qualified candidate.

However despite these two benefits there are also overwhelming cons. You’re more anonymous, and while this could be good depending upon the trade you’re in, some customers will never feel comfortable with you unless you have a traditional office. This can be an issue of accessibility, trust, safety or any combination thereof.

In addition, by working from home it becomes hard to regulate the different aspects of your life, (private and personal vs. business life). This is largely about making your work space more professional for your clients (or at least professional-looking), but it could also boost your productivity. It can also be a personal issue, as most people view the separation of work and play as a good thing. A physical parting from your work can provide a mental or emotional separation. When spending long stretches at home without business trips, it’s tempting to spend every waking hour working.

Management research shows that without face-to-face interaction, performance and the mental health of employees suffer.

Now imagine what happens when people work from home and can only rely on electronic forms of communication. For example, how long would it take to write an e-mail to explain all the nuances of your position on your company’s R&D budget? Probably a few hours. Then people would get back to you with their positions, also spending hours going over fine points that you didn’t think to consider when you wrote your e-mail, and this back and forth could take days or even weeks. But if you met face to face, you could accomplish this entire discussion in an hour. As a result, sometimes working from home just isn not realistic. The idea of sending an email to your boss while sipping a mug of coffee and balancing a serene tot on your knee will almost always be just that: an idea, and not a very realistic one.

Although working from home sounds amazing it may end up with you doing more work than you normally would. Instead of having a dedicated place to regulate your business affairs, you have to take care of them alongside personal issues as well. Also by working at the office it’s much easier to meet up with fellow employees who might only be a few seconds away and directly converse with them regarding business matters as opposed to calling each other and missing their calls and emails. The efficiency that one has in the office is what keeps the environment flowing so smoothly; by being able to directly intermingle with colleagues there is no need to take work matters outside of the office. When you are at home you can relax and know that you won’t need to suddenly let your business life take over your personal life.