Benefits and Hazards of Working from Home

Thursday, June 28, 2007 at 8:00pm by Site Administrator

So you’ve managed to convince your boss of the benefits to the company if you work from home. Or you have your own business. For those of you that have spent time working from home, even part of the week, you already know the benefits. Now imagine the positives of working from home, whether teleworking for a salaried job or as a bootstrapping entrepreneur in business for  yourself.

  1. Flexible work hours.
    Unless you have a scheduled teleconference, you probably have complete flexibility in choosing your working hours.

  2. Comfortable work clothes.
    You can work in casual clothes, your pajamas. a suit, your birthday suit or just a tie. It’s up to you.

  3. Relief from commuting.
    Don’t discount how productive you can be when you have not spent the morning stuck in traffic or waiting on crowded platforms for buses or trains. Or in line at the airport. More specifically:

    1. No road rage.
    2. No parking hassles or costs.
    3. No wear and tear on the car.
    4. No waiting for fellow car poolers to get out of the house.
    5. No trying to find a gas station when the “empty” light goes one.
    6. No locking your keys in the car.
    7. No worrying about getting to work when you’ve lost your transit pass.
    8. No typical airport hassles.
    9. No forgetting your lunch on the kitchen counter.
    10. No leaving your wallet in the hallway.
  4. Reduced meal costs.
    Eating at home means:

    1. Not having to make your lunch
    2. Eating what you want, not whatever won’t spoil in the office lunch room.
    3. Eating healthier meals for less money.
  5. Time for personal tasks.
    Even though a salaried employee is supposed to get a certain amount of break time each day, you know it isn’t always that easy to get away, to get personal tasks done. Working at home gives you that luxury.

  6. Quality time.
    Just got a new puppy or kitten? Kids out of school or home earlier than usual? You can take a break and spend some quality time with them.

  7. Higher net income.
    You have an overall reduced “cost” of working. If you’re making the same gross yearly revenue at home as you would working in an office, then obviously you have the opoprtunity for higher net income, because of all the savings.

But there are drawbacks as well. Question is, do you have the entrepreneurial discipline to take advantage of the benefits, or will you succumb to the negative aspects?

  1. Expanding work hours.

    Negative: To someone not good at making decisions, picking your own work hours may not be such a great idea. Not having structured work hours at home can just as well lead to a situation where you feel that you’re in a work mindset all day long.

    Suggestion: Keep a physically distinct work area. Either work regular 8-4/ 9-5 hours, or split your day into two parts. But be consistent, except when situations warrant otherwise. Take regular breaks, whether that’s five minutes each hour or a half hour every four hours. Just remember that working eight hours straight doesn’t mean getting more work done.

  2. Slacker temptations.

    Negative: Working in pajamas doesn’t work for everyone. Some people like the structure of waking up, shaving (or whatever), showering, putting on “work clothes”, then “getting to work” in a home office by, say, 8 am. They feel that wearing casual clothes puts them in a casual mindset, which may mean less productivity.

    Suggestion: Wear what works for you. Some people joke about working naked from home. Hey, if it you get your work done, great. Just make sure that your webcam is turned off, in case the boss or a client calls on Skype.

  3. Distractions.

    Negative: You no longer have the office social interaction, so that’s sometimes substituted with spending time with pets or family members, or watching TV, surfing the Internet, or chatting with friends online.

    Suggestion: Set boundaries and schedules and enforce them. Set specific times to check and respond to important emails or chat sessions. Keep social interactions, but define a preferred time for them while you’re working.

  4. Expanding waistline.

    Negative: The temptation to snack is strong, since the fridge is so close and snacks so much cheaper than the office vending machine. That can mean only one thing: an expanding waistline.

    Suggestion: Each morning, set aside a zippered bag of healthy snacks – say pieces of fruit, nuts, carrots, celery, etc. – and place it prominently at the front of the fridge.

  5. Reduced exercise.

    Negative: You no longer have the benefit of walking to and from a bus/ train stop, or the parking lot to the office. You’re sitting around all day at home now. Certain types of serious illness, such as diabetes or deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can be triggered by weight gains and/or extended periods of low activity.

    Suggestion: Take walking breaks at least once every few hours, even if it’s to walk around at home. When you can’t leave your desk, occasionally massage your legs and knees, to ensure that blood is flowing properly.

The fact is that working from home has both positives and negatives, but with a bit of forethought and discipline, you can make the experience all positive.


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Filed under: Productivity

4 Comments »

  1. Our shop has the flexibility to allow our people to work from wherever but we still come into the office from time to time. We also use Campfire to help out that social interaction you don’t have during the day which helps.

    I think everyone in the company enjoys it for the most part but I like to come into the office sometimes, just to come in and get out of the house.

    Great post btw.

    Comment by Brad Garland — July 6, 2007 @ 3:59 pm

  2. Hi Brad, thanks for stopping by and for the compliment. That’s great to hear from people like yourself who are experiencing this type of hybrid work environment. I know what you mean. I’ve been at home full-time for a year now, and I do miss the social interaction. And when the cats are spazzing out and bouncing off walls, it’s nice to be elsewhere :)

    Comment by Raj Dash — July 6, 2007 @ 6:07 pm

  3. this is great. You should post this link in the comments section on my post you linked to:
    http://lifelearningtoday.com/2007/07/17/should-you-start-your-own-work-at-home-business/
    It would really add to the conversation!

    Comment by AgentSully — July 20, 2007 @ 3:57 am

  4. AgentSully: Thanks for the suggestion. Done

    Comment by Raj Dash — July 20, 2007 @ 4:20 am

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