9 Reasons Not to Work From Home

Updated on March 18, 2018
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Paul has worked from home for over six years. Although he enjoys managing his own work affairs, he is also well aware of the downsides.

Many people dream of working from home.  It seems like a great opportunity to organize your own workload and timetable, integrating it with your own private life.  There are some major downsides to working from home, however, which I list below.
Many people dream of working from home. It seems like a great opportunity to organize your own workload and timetable, integrating it with your own private life. There are some major downsides to working from home, however, which I list below. | Source

I have worked from home for over six years and, although I enjoy it and find there are many advantages, I am also very much aware of all the pitfalls.

It's great to manage your own timetable and workload, of course and combine your work and private life in a way that suits you. But there also some hidden downsides to working from home. Self-motivation and organizational skills are needed in abundance, not to mention the confidence to manage your own affairs without support.

I list below in more detail the main reasons why you may not wish to work from home.

1. Lack of Structure

Once you have got over the novelty of not having a boss, it dawns on you that you have to be your own motivating force and make all the difficult decisions yourself. Prevarication is not an option. You will have to do some unpleasant things at times without any backup. Organizing your work time can be challenging too. If you are not careful you will end up either underachieving, or working all hours because you don't know when to stop.

There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.

— Alain de Botton

2. Irregular Income

A regular job usually means a regular wage, but working from home often means a less predictable income. It can make it much harder to plan finances and predict where you will be money-wise in the future. Loans and credit are sometimes harder to obtain if your income is erratic. This can become stressful over time.

Income gained by working from home can often be less predictable than in a regular job.  This can make it harder to predict future finances and become stressful over time. The best way around this is to diversify your income to lower the risk.
Income gained by working from home can often be less predictable than in a regular job. This can make it harder to predict future finances and become stressful over time. The best way around this is to diversify your income to lower the risk. | Source

3. Loneliness

Working from home can mean spending many hours by yourself. The lack of social interaction and support from others can definitely be a downside. There may be no one around to ask advice from, or request support from, or just to vent to.

They say death and taxes are the only things that are inevitable. The truth is, you can not pay your taxes. I've done it, and there's consequences, but it can be done. Death you're not going to get out of, and you kind of got to deal with it.

— Steve Earle
Filing your taxes can be much more time-consuming and expensive if you work from home, compared with if you do a regular job.  You may well need to be much more conscientious with regard to book keeping and financial affairs, if you are to succeed.
Filing your taxes can be much more time-consuming and expensive if you work from home, compared with if you do a regular job. You may well need to be much more conscientious with regard to book keeping and financial affairs, if you are to succeed. | Source

4. Taxes and Accounting

You will have to spend a lot more time and possible money recording, tracking, and reporting your finances. It's not just your income either, much of your outgoing expenses will need to be recorded too, so that you can write them off for tax purposes. Working from home basically means much more detailed and intensive book keeping and financial organization for most people, as well as more time and resources spent filling out the tax forms at the end of the year.

5. No Benefits Package

Working from home means that you almost certainly won't be on any tax or pension plan, or get any medical insurance. You will either have to sort out that stuff yourself, or go without.

“The answer to finding better work/life balance is to find the right blend between all our life activities—regardless of where and when they occur.”

— Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

6.Lack of Input and Ideas From Others

As well as general support, coworkers can come up with good ideas that you may not have thought of. They can also teach you new skills, either informally or via formal training sessions, as well as offer advice and second opinions. Having input from others can be useful, as well as stimulating and shouldn’t be underestimated.

Ideas input and support from coworkers is often lost when you work from home.  It puts you at disadvantage if you rely on creative ideas.   You don't get the same training opportunities either, you have to come up with your own ideas and learning.
Ideas input and support from coworkers is often lost when you work from home. It puts you at disadvantage if you rely on creative ideas. You don't get the same training opportunities either, you have to come up with your own ideas and learning. | Source

7. Scams

You should investigate advertised work-at-home schemes carefully. Be wary of any job that wants you to pay out upfront. Many jobs advertised are are exploitative, or even outright scams.

“The answer to finding better work/life balance is to find the right blend between all our life activities—regardless of where and when they occur.”

— Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

8. Psychological Effects

There are benefits to be found in working at a place that is elsewhere from your home. It gives you a clear psychological divide. You go to work, you work, you go home. Working from home can blur the boundaries between your work and home life. You may begin working from home with the intention of improving your work/life balance, but end up overworking because you can't switch off from work mode. You can also end up housebound for long periods.

Traveling to work every day may seem like a chore, but without a workplace to go to, you may find yourself increasingly housebound.  The psychological boundaries between being at work and being at home can begin to blur.
Traveling to work every day may seem like a chore, but without a workplace to go to, you may find yourself increasingly housebound. The psychological boundaries between being at work and being at home can begin to blur. | Source

9. Distractions

There are generally more distractions in the home, than in the workplace. All sorts of things can intrude with your work, whether it is young children, household tasks that need to be done, or more leisurely pursuits like watching the television.

There are many more potential distractions at home, than in the workplace.  It can be harder to maintain discipline working from home in comparison to doing a regular job.
There are many more potential distractions at home, than in the workplace. It can be harder to maintain discipline working from home in comparison to doing a regular job. | Source

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it.

— Steve Jobs

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Paul Goodman

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        Salty Sam 54 

        18 months ago

        Some interesting points here Paul. A couple of quick replies.

        1) Structure. My partner writes herself To Do lists each evening for the following day. Diaries can be useful as well. I got her a great one for Xmas. When you open it up it has duplicate pages on the left and the right sides. Business on one and personal on the other. Great for organising your time. My daughter, who also runs her own business, loved it so much I bought her one as well.

        2) Loneliness. Work in a coffee shop with WiFi (also covers 8 but 9 can be a problem). Here in the UK some coffee shops have a separate part of the cafe for business users.

        3) Bookkeeping. QuickBooks or others. Not familiar with US but here in the UK a sole trader, the simplest form of being self employed, can keep simple books.

        4) I'm in the UK so healthcare is sorted but I can understand what it would be like elsewhere without it.

        5) Scams. Do research. I was looking at using a supplier for my business. All the items looked really good but did a quick search and realise they were ripping people off.

        6) New ideas. Forums, and ToughNickel would be a good choice.

        7) Training. Surely you can find that online.

        Yes there are downsides to being self employed. The thing with being a One-Man-Band is without you there is no music. And I know it is not for everyone. But when surveyed most of the self employed in the UK say the best part is being your own boss.

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