The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

A desk with a computer monitor, house plants, and notebooks.

Many people dream of working from home. They like the idea of tackling projects in their sweatpants, sleeping in late, and taking a leisurely approach to their jobs. However, remote work isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be.

Especially when it comes to your work-life balance and social engagement, working from home can be a challenge. Before you jump at a chance to snag a career in your pjs, there are a few things you ought to consider.

Below, I’ll discuss three types of work-from-home jobs you might think about pursuing. Then I’ll lay out the pros and cons of working from home and some tips for staying sane while doing so. Here we go!

3 Types of Work-from-Home Jobs

So you’ve decided you want to work from home instead of dragging yourself to an office every day. At this point, you may be wondering how to make that vision a reality. There are a few different routes you might take.

The most obvious way is to start your own business. As the owner of a company, you can determine your work schedule and locale. However, there are many barriers to entry when it comes to launching business.

For starters, you’ll need a healthy startup fund. You’re also going to need plenty of time to work up a business plan, run marketing campaigns, and sell products or services.

So, another, perhaps more practical option is to take up freelancing. You can find work in a wide variety of fields simply by marketing your skills to other individuals as well as businesses.

Finally, there are a significant number of companies that hire remote employees. Working in such a position is exactly like working your office job, except that you can do it from your home. You’ll report to a supervisor, have set tasks you have to complete, and maybe even set hours.

Any of these paths can lead to a successful career, and enable you to do so in your own house. The decision isn’t one to take lightly, however.

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

After working from home for nearly a year, I’ve come to understand that it’s truly a double-edged sword. There are many significant advantages, but also drawbacks that can seriously impact your lifestyle. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned.

Pro: You’re Not Wasting Time on a Commute

In late 2017, I landed an interview for an editing position at a digital media platform. At the time I was living on the North Side of Chicago, and the office the company worked out of was in a Southwest suburb. Driving out to that interview took me two hours – without traffic.

I didn’t get the job, and I wasn’t particularly upset when I received the news. I knew the moment I hit the interstate on my way to the interview that I didn’t want to spend four-plus hours sitting in my car every day.

Time is one of the most valuable things each of us has. Getting to spend yours on things you actually enjoy is priceless. Not having a commute is probably one of the reasons I’m able to juggle a full-time job, running this blog, working on a novel, and still taking some time to kick back and relax with friends and family.

Con: You May Feel Trapped In Your House

A few weeks into my first work-from-home position, I found myself composing an email to my mentor. I was two paragraphs into asking her for clarification on some subject I can no longer remember when I realized I already knew the answers to my questions.

I was so starved for human interaction that I was compulsively composing unnecessary emails. When you work in an office you have ample opportunities to socialize with your co-workers. At home, you’re on your own.

Most days I don’t leave my neighborhood, and only leave my house to walk my dog. It’s not always a bad thing and I’ve mostly gotten used to it at this point, but if you’re a true extrovert, this may be a struggle for you.

Pro: You’ll Have More Flexibility and Freedom

One of the most difficult things about a traditional 9-to-5 is that it requires you to be in a certain place at certain times. You have a set number of vacation days and a limited amount of control over your schedule.

When you work from home, you can usually set your own hours. If you want to start at 6:00 AM so that you can take night classes, that’s a possibility. If you aren’t a morning person and want to work from 11:00 to 7:00, that’s an option too.

You also often have choices when it comes to locale. You can maintain a home office, work out coffee shops, or even take your show on the road. For those who love to travel, working from “home” may mean hopping from city to city on your next adventure.

Con: Maintaining a Healthy Work-Life Balance May Be Harder

A healthy work-life balance is key no matter what kind of job you have. However, when your personal life and your work are more closely intertwined than most peoples’, you have to be intentional about maintaining boundaries.

For example, having your work email open on the laptop you use to browse Buzzfeed or Facebook could lead to answering client inquiries during your leisure time. The same goes for your smartphone.

It can even be hard to switch your mental state from “work mode” to “home mode”. You may find it more difficult to kick back and relax than if you could easily take your job hat off when you step out of the office.

Pro: You Can Create Your Ideal Work Environment

There’s no telling what kind of equipment your office may provide. You also probably won’t have much of a say in your desk, chair, or the cleanliness of the break room.

When you work from home, you can pick and choose the work environment solutions that are most appealing to you. You can buy a chair that provides the right kind of support for you, situate your desk in front of a window with a view, and keep your coffee maker on a timer so it brews fresh cups right when you need them.

Having control over your setup can make your working hours more comfortable. It may even help you be more productive by cutting down on distractions.

Con: You’re Surrounded By Distractions

Speaking of distractions, they can be a major drawback to working from home. Whether you have laundry piling up, kids running around, noisy neighbors, or something else that threatens to pull your attention away from work, staying focused will be a challenge.

Traditional offices are designed to help you stay on task. You may have a cubicle, a secluded space of your own, or a functional co-working area where you can collaborate with teammates.

At home, you’re more likely to get pulled away from work by one of the many distractions around you. If you’re going to pursue this sort of career, you’ll need to put structures in place to help yourself stay on task.

3 Tips for Successfully Working from Home

While the drawbacks I’ve outlined in this post are real, that doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dream of working from home. There are a few concrete steps you can take to make it easier.

First, make sure you have a designated workspace. Even if you don’t have room in your place for a dedicated office, have a desk that’s just for work, or at least a particular chair you use whenever you clock in.

Alternatively, you can venture out of the house to find a place to work. Libraries, coffee shops, and co-working spaces can all provide dedicated areas for your day job if you don’t have room for a desk at home.

You’ll also want to set specific working hours, and hold yourself to them. This will help you maintain a balance between your job and your personal life.

Finally, it’s wise to set a routine for your workdays. Having a regular schedule can help cut down on distractions and keep you on track to complete all your tasks.

Conclusion

Deciding to work from home is an important choice. While every career has its pros and cons, jobs you can do from your couch come with particular challenges. There are lots of factors to consider beyond the appeal of working in your pajamas.

With a little planning, however, you can overcome the distractions that tend to pop up at home and build a thriving personal life for yourself outside of work hours. When you get past the most difficult aspects of working from home, you can focus on the many benefits it offers.

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Featured Image Credit: Pexels.

Molly Tyler
Molly Tyler

Molly received her B.A. in English in 2016, and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing in 2019. She now works full time writing blog posts and web copy for small businesses.

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