I’ve been working from home since April, 2008. It’s been 3 years now so I thought I should write a bit about the pros and cons, and whether everyone should consider going for it.
Working from home isn’t a new phenomenon. Most of the time you’ll find people who are self-employed – especially, freelance writers, journalists, photographers, designers et al – like to have a home office and usually work from there when they are not in the field. So, bloggers like me have now joined people like them in this commute-less(mostly) working experience.
I’ll definitely accede to the argument that working from home is something that you’ll find more and more people opting for these days. The rise of the world wide web – and the unprecedented earning opportunities it has brought along – has caused many to use it as a medium to create a full-time income source.
Moreover, even traditional office goers, who could have never imagined that they’ll enjoy the freedom of working from home, are now asking their bosses to let them do that. And surprisingly enough, most of the bosses these days don’t seem to have issues with that. If the employee wants to avoid the hectic commute and claims that he can be more productive while working from home, why not let him do that.
I think even if 5% of the skilled working population of the world starts working from home, that could result in an unimaginable decline in traffic snarls, pollution, road rages and accidents, and other such related things. That said, the grass isn’t usually greener on this side. I’ll talk more about that later but first lets see what are the advantages of having a workplace that’s just a few steps from your bedroom.
The obvious advantage is the freedom from long commutes and traffic congestions. In my previous job, it took around 2 hours to reach office from my home. Sure the company used to send an air-conditioned cab for pick and drop, but the commute still amounted to a lot of wasted time…the time I could have utilized in learning a new skill or practicing an ignored hobby.
Another advantage is the ability to set your own routine. While in some cases it might not be possible and you would still need to be at your laptop from 9 to 5, in most of the cases the person working from home has a specific work target that he needs to meet irrespective of when he works. So that means you get to decide your own working hours, the hours when you are likely to get the most work done.
You can also attend emergency family situations faster if you are always at home. Be it the kids or an ailing grandparent, you can quickly come to their rescue if something goes wrong.
So, working from home has its own charm for sure. But, as I said earlier, the grass is not always greener on this side. The lack of co-workers to talk to, and the absence an office environment could be more of an impediment than you might think. If you are someone who likes to have people around when you are working, it could be extremely difficult to stay productive and creative while working alone in your home office.
If you stay with your family, it could be difficult initially to set and follow a work routine. Your family members will take time to come to terms with the fact that you need a no-disturbance time zone to get work done. Friends and neighbors might not understand that you are “working” even though you are at home. They could come knocking at odd hours and expect you to respond and meet them amicably, because, after all, you’re at home and not in the office.
One more situation you’ll find yourself frequently in is the 24-hour working mode. The lack of set work hours could mean that you are glued to your computer screen when your family expects you to be watching TV with them. You are working when people in your previous office are done with their workday. You are almost always working.
Overall, working from home isn’t as easy as you might think. Ask me, I’ve been doing it for the last 3 years. And I have encountered a number of obstacles on the way. Obviously, I’m still doing that means I overcame them (I like to believe that I did). But this working from home thing is definitely not for everyone.
What do you think? Have you given a shot at working from home yet? Are you thinking of going that route?