Working at Home – The Benefits and Pitfalls

As with everything, there are pros and cons about working from home. Some people are their own boss and conduct business from an in-home office. Others may telecommute and work in a “virtual” office, or have a flexible work schedule that allows them to work from home several days a week. Others still may be among the many who dream about the opportunity to work from the luxury of their own homes. Do any of these scenarios sound like you? Whatever situation you find yourself in, a review of the benefits and pitfalls of working at home may be useful. The benefits:

  • A more flexible work schedule – One of the main benefits of working from home is the flexibility it provides. If you have children, this can be even more advantageous, allowing you to schedule pick ups and drop offs, or school meetings in-between your work schedule.
  • Cost savings. With gas prices on the increase, working from home can be a huge savings advantage. Savings can also be achieved from a reduction in parking fees, public transport expenses, not to mention the requisite morning coffee or lunch that you may partake of. You may also find yourself saving money due to the fact that you do not need to invest in office attire.
  • Travel savings– Another advantage of working from home is the time it saves in commuting. In 2010, almost 60 million American commuters found themselves spending an extra 30 hours caught up in traffic delays.
  • Your own private environment. Working from home means you are apart from the normal, everyday office hustle and bustle, not to mention distractions. This may make you more focused and productive.

The pitfalls:

  • Greater investment in time management – While working from home can cut down on telecommuting, it may also mean increased investment in terms of managing your daily work schedule.
  • Lack of balance between work and family time – It may sound counter-intuitive, but working from home may have a material impact on the time you spend between working and with family. Many at-home-employees find that while they may not be working a traditional 9 to 5 schedule, this means they may have to complete projects during the evenings or weekends to offset their flexible schedule.
  • Perception from other employees – While you may be a key contributor to your workplace, working from home may impact your career goals. Lack of face-to-face interaction with your co-workers and boss may not keep you top of mind. And because you do not have the luxury to drop by someone’s office or desk, instant feedback you require on projects may be hindered by response times from emails or phone calls.
  • Threat of Isolation. Working from a home-office can be an isolating experience for many. The lack of social interaction with your peers may leave you feeling alone and isolated, all of which can impact motivation and productivity.

The best approach to ensure your working from home arrangement is a positive and productive one is to manage your time efficiently so that are not working all the time. If you spend 5 days a week in your home office, make it a point to schedule outside meetings where you are able to interact with colleagues in an alternate environment. Provide your boss with a weekly update, or request a weekly meeting so that they are aware of your contributions to the team. These are just a few suggestions you may wish to consider if you do work, or are considering working from the comfort of your home.

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