Whether they want more flexibility in their schedule or hope to launch their own company and be their own boss, more and more people are leaving the office behind to work from home. As in any decision, there are both pros and cons: some obvious, some less-than-obvious, and some that may make even the most determined change their mind. Whatever your reasons, take a look at the following list of positives and negatives of working from home before you make the switch.
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of working from home is the ability to set and change your schedule as needed. This can be a particular asset for those with family responsibilities such as caring for elderly parents or young children. A flexible schedule is a boon for night owls and early birds, who prefer working irregular hours. You can establish a regular schedule that works for you, or even change the schedule to meet your particular needs for the day.
The primary method of determining the benefit of working from home is to calculate financial savings. The average employee who drives to work spends a minimum of one hour a day in their commute. By eliminating this drive, you can save up to $1,000 on gas every year. In addition, reducing the extra wear and tear on your vehicle will save you money on maintenance and service.
Work-from-home employees can also save money by eating at home. Many in-office employees eat two meals per day from restaurants, vending machines, or drive-thrus, not including snacks and beverages. Working from home gives you the opportunity to fix meals in your kitchen (or take advantage of leftovers from the night before), giving you an option that is both healthier and less expensive.
Even the most business-casual work environment generally has a dress code that requires buying appropriate clothes. Shoes, shirts, slacks, jackets—the costs can add up, even when bargain hunting. Fortunately, the work-at-home environment allows for flexible dress code requirements that greatly reduce the amount of money spent on work clothes.
Another important financial benefit to working from home is the tax breaks that a work-from-home business receives. Speak to your financial planner about what credits you may receive by having a home office. Deductions may include credit for Internet, office supplies, and technology.
Some of the most important benefits of working from home are things that are harder to define. Being able to handle tasks around the house during the day, the ability to succeed based on your own merits, the freedom to choose where and when to work—these are all enticing benefits to working from home.
Lack of Oversight
Many people assume that having a flexible schedule is the stuff that dreams are made of. They envision having the work life depicted on sitcoms: a few productive moments squeezed in between hangouts with friends. The reality, however, is that a flexible schedule can be a struggle; the lure of something more fun than work is strong, and it requires both diligence and determination to stay focused and on task. Work-from-home employees must be ruthless in their refusal to become distracted, ensuring that the time earmarked for work isn’t constantly being put off until another day and remains a priority.
Lack of Interaction
Another shocking realization for people beginning to work at home is how lonely it can be. When you’re in an office inundated with chatter, the sounds of the copier and phones, and a boss who constantly stops by to check in, the idea of working from home in the quiet is appealing. Once home, however, the stillness and silence can be disorienting. With no one to talk to, the days can seem long and unfulfilling.
Employees working from home may see a reduction in pay, depending on their field of work. Some companies pay at-home workers a reduced rate, counter-balancing the benefits of working from home with their reduced employee costs.
For the vast majority of individuals who chose to work from home, the pros outweigh the cons. While working from home is not for everyone, those who are committed to making a career from their home find that the benefits of home-based businesses far exceed any benefits they receive by working a traditional job. Whether your work-from-home business is a position within a larger company or you’re starting a company on your own, bringing work home—permanently—is a decision that few regret.