Tell someone you work from home and you will probably receive one of two responses: “You are so lucky!” or “… Is that even work, then?” The image of working a 9-5 job in an office seems to have taken over our collective definition of “work.” If it doesn’t fit the stereotype, it’s not actually a job, right? Wrong. In 2015, 24 percent of employed people did some or even all of their work at home, meaning it is a growing trend.
There are some awesome perks that come with working from home, it’s true. But the other side of the coin can be quite challenging at times. It takes dedication, focus and self-created structure to get the job done. Here are just some of the perks and the drawbacks.
1. Setting your own schedule. If it fits your biological clock better to get up late and work later into the night, working at home can make that happen. Not everyone is made for the 9-5 grind. The ability to create one’s own schedule opens all kinds of doors into increased productivity and better overall health. If you get stiff in your chair after lunch, you can hit the gym for an hour and come back refreshed. Prefer doing errands during the day to beat the traffic? Working from home gives you the freedom.
2. Mixing up where you work. Creating a workspace that actually motivates you to get stuff done is its own complicated science. But, being an at-home employee means you don’t have to limit yourself to a flourescently-lit cubicle or even your own home office. Take your laptop to the park and use your phone as a wi-fi hotspot. Head on over to the coffee shop for a caffeine buzz or the library for some peace and quiet.
3. Extra cuddle time with your companion animals. Perhaps my favorite part of working from home is all the extra time I get to spend with my pup. When she curls up on my lap she keeps me nice and toasty. Plus, midday walks around the block!
4. Breaks can be whatever you want them to be. There’s no more being regulated to the same 12:00-12:30 lunch time break every day when you work from home. Want to sit outside and read a book for a half hour? Do it! Would hitting a noon hot yoga class put you in a better frame of mind? Get it done! How about hiking a trail after lunch? Get out there!
5. Nearly full control of distractions. Working in an office always meant I would have to bring an extra sweater, scarf and pair of socks because some cruel higher-up would set the thermostat too low. When you work from home you control the heat, lighting, music volume, open-window fresh air and flow of coffee!
1. Willpower is a must. The comment I mostly hear about my work situation is “Wow, I could never do that.” And, honestly, there is a lot of continual growing pains to find that sweet spot of being consistently productive. The nice thing about having a job outside of the home is that there is always structure. Planning out your day or your week all on your own—and sticking to your to-do list—can be daunting.
2. Sometimes going days without seeing people. Every at-home worker has had the thought “Wait… when was the last time I left home/the apartment?” If you don’t have regular friend meet-ups, a gym to visit, or other social gatherings to attend, working at home can get pretty lonely. Not having everyday chatter with co-workers can be a pro or a con, depending on how much you value it.
3. Work life blends into home life. It’s not uncommon to be pulled away from some work-related task to fold the laundry or clean up the kitchen throughout the day. Taking 5-10 minute breaks to do this stuff probably won’t hurt—in fact, it can even help relieve the overall pressure of household chores—but, not keeping an eye on the amount of time you spend on these tasks during the day can lead to longer work hours and feeling more drained.
4. People don’t always take you seriously. I absolutely hate explaining “what I do” to people. Because I do many things! Not only are we all conditioned to ask “So, what do you do?”, but we generally want to hear a concise, generally-understood answer. We all have general knowledge of what a lawyer, a teacher or a sales clerk do. But, when you’re a freelancer or have about 8 different positions with 8 different industries/companies… nobody has time to hear or try to understand that.
5. You probably don’t get paid PTO, sick days or health insurance. Ugh. When you embark on a work-from-home lifestyle, you have to be sure you are ready to handle vacations and getting sick. The Affordable Care Act might be on its way out soon, so this raises concern for everyone without full-time (usually in-office) status. It is also essential to prepare for when you get hit by the flu or want to take a weeklong road trip with friends. That means planning, saving and attention to detail. For some, that’s no problem; for others, it’s a pain.
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