Here on this site, we’re all about work from home, of course. But we’re also willing to acknowledge that, like all things in life, it can be a mixed bag. Today we're talking about the best and worst things about working from home.
We’ll talk about some of the things we really love about remote work, and then, for the sake of contrast, we’re going to take a hard look at some of the bad things about working from home.
When deciding whether to pursue a work from home job, each individual will have to determine whether the good outweighs the bad, and that will depend on things like your personality type, financial needs, life situation, and professional goals. Basically, everyone is different and will have their own unique criteria.
But for those of you just starting out on your journey into the world of remote work, we hope that the information below will give you some sense for what to expect – the good, the bad, and the ugly – so that you can adjust your expectations, and make better decisions about how to approach things as you proceed.
The Best Things About Working From Home
More Time With Friends And Family
This one is really important, especially for people with young kids at home.
One of the main things many people hate about going to work is missing out on all those important golden moments with children and spouses. And for some, the daily grind at the office leaves them so exhausted that they can’t even enjoy the few precious hours of personal time they do get every day.
Overwork leads to exhaustion, which leads to burnout, which inevitably leads to neglected relationships. It’s a vicious cycle, and switching to a work from home lifestyle is one of the best ways to reverse it.
Many work from home jobs allow you to set your own schedule and work as much or as little as you want. Even those that don’t often give you a fairly high degree of schedule flexibility.
This can be a huge perk for all kinds of reasons. Night owls can wait till midnight to get started. Morning people can begin work at 5:00 am if they want, and be done before lunch.
You can literally take your job with you on a family trip, and fit your work in around each day’s recreational activities without ever missing a beat. If you want to better yourself, you can go to college and earn a degree while still maintaining a decent enough level of income, and all without any major scheduling conflicts.
Do Things Your Way
Most people don't like working under the nose of a manager and having to approach your daily tasks according to a system set up by someone else. Every person has their own best personal work style, but the demands of office culture often stifle people who tend to work better when they’re operating in an unconventional manner.
When you work at home, you have the freedom to drop all the pretenses, and handle your job in the way that works best for you. As a result, you’ll be happier and also probably more effective.
Being able to do things your way is hands down one of the most fun thing about working from home.
Avoiding Workplace Drama
Almost anyone who’s spent much time in a social work setting has at least one horror story about a difficult co-worker who made everyone’s life miserable.
Most workplaces have their fair share of bullies, gossips, bitter rivalries, politics, and every other kind of social angst you can imagine. Some people actually seem to thrive on these things to a degree, but for the rest of us, working from home is much, much better.
A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned
One of the hidden perks of remote work is all the money it allows you to save. Staying home means you spend a lot less every week on gas, it means your car takes less abuse and needs less maintenance, it means you don’t dine out nearly as often.
Over time, all these things add up in a big way. You’ll have a lot more money to spend on things you really enjoy.
The Worst Things About Working From Home
Struggling With Procrastination
When you’re at home, it’s so very easy to find reasons for putting your work off. Compared to a traditional office setting, your living environment is chock full of temptations – we’re talking about things like Netflix, books, video games.
To stay productive, you’ll have to marshal your discipline in ways you’ve never had to before, and set up a personal work environment that’s as free as possible of distractions.
Family And Friends Don’t Respect Your Work Schedule
It can be difficult for people with traditional jobs to understand what it’s like to be a remote worker. To them, being at home means their schedule is wide open, and without meaning to, they’ll apply this same standard to you automatically.
Consequently, there are some folks, maybe even those who are very close to you, who will never quite understand that you can’t always stop working at the drop of a hat. And when you try to remind them, no matter how gently you go about it, some are likely to get their feelings hurt.
There are ways to combat this issue, and over time most of your loved ones can be made to understand and respect your work time. But be warned – the problem might never completely go away, and it can be a really bumpy road when you’re first starting out.
At the end of the day, human beings are social animals, and we need at least some contact with others, even if we’re introverts. There are probably a few people at work who you would prefer to avoid, but on the whole, your daily social interactions with co-workers are likely beneficial to your mental health.
When you work from home, your opportunities for socialization will greatly diminish, and if you don’t replace them in some way, your overall sense of well-being could begin to decline. Many people become depressed after a few months of remote work, and for some, the problem can be quite severe.
The solution, of course, is to create new social outlets. You’ll need to go out of your way to find reasons for being around others in your daily life.
Take advantage of your new flexible schedule to stay in touch with friends and family. Get out of the house and meet new people from time to time. Your brain will thank you for it.
No Respect From Management
It is sad, but true that many business owners treat their remote workers like second-class citizens. This bias can impact everything from the size of your paycheck, to your benefits package, and promotion prospects.
When businesses get ready to lay people off, remote workers are often first in line for the chopping block, and they have the greatest likelihood of getting a pay-cut if money gets tight.
This situation is improving in recent years. It’s easier than ever to find work from home jobs with great benefits packages, and management teams who treat all workers with respect. But make no mistake – we still have a long ways to go.
Doing It All By Yourself
In a normal, outside-the-home job, if you have some kind of technical difficulty with a task you’re performing, it’s fairly easy to go ask someone with more experience for help.
When you’re working from home, however, it’s not always possible to get assistance at all. And any help you do receive will probably come by way of email or text messages, which can make communication challenging.
This lack of support will eventually make you more self-reliant, which is a great thing in the long run. But when you’re first starting out, it basically means doing more work for the same amount of pay.
No work situation is perfect. Some enjoy the structure and simplicity of a regular job outside the home. Others would rather work remotely, and gain the added freedom that comes with that choice, even if they have to deal with a little more chaos and unpredictability. At the end of the day, each worker will have to make the decision about which is right for their situation, based on their own personal needs and goals.
For those of you who currently work from home, what aspects of the lifestyle do you love the most? And what parts do you absolutely hate?
Please share your opinions in the comments section below. We’d love to hear what you think.
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Anna Thurman is a work at home blogger and mom of two. She has been researching and reviewing remote jobs for over 13 years. Her findings are published weekly here at Real Ways to Earn.