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Working from Home vs. Full-Time Office Work

Updated on April 2, 2017
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Sally Hayes is a business communications coach who teaches speaking and leadership skills to adults in the midst of a career change.

Find out which career path is most suited to your personality.

Are you frustrated by your job and want to find a gig that will let you work from home? Besides the obvious financial considerations of quitting a full-time job, if you're thinking of breaking out on your own with a new home-based business, you need to weigh the pros and cons of self-employment versus staying in your current office job. Not everyone is able to manage the distractions that arise when working from home. On the other hand, many people crave the person to person interaction that come with working in an office environment.

Working from home allows you more control over your work space and office environment. That's a big plus for people who consider themselves neat freaks.
Working from home allows you more control over your work space and office environment. That's a big plus for people who consider themselves neat freaks. | Source

Many people fantasize about leaving the office rat race and setting up a home office where they can be their own boss, in charge of everything from the strength of the coffee to when the quitting bell rings.

For others, working from home can feel lonely. They struggle against the constant volley of distractions -- real or imagined -- and find themselves making little progress throughout the workday. They long to be in an office surrounded by other people where they can test new ideas, share the workload with their peers and engage in some friendly conversation around the lunch table.

The Challenges of Working In a Home Office

If you're not sure what your workplace personality is (Are you a loner or do you need people around you?), this list of common work-from-home distractions can help you decide which path to chose.

Social media -- When there is no one around to chat about last night's episode of Mad Men, it's sometimes easy to get sidetracked by online forums, Facebook pages or gossip columns. We like to feel connected to others who share our common interests. If we can't get talk to our peers around the office water cooler, we may feel tempted to go online to chat about the latest celebrity gossip. In an office, social time is limited to coffee breaks and lunchtime, which automatically curbs the amount of time we spend on non-work related business.

Other friends who don't work from home -- Sometimes people who don't know what it is like to work from home have this misconception that you are free to drop what you are doing and help them with an errand, talk on the phone for hours or entertain them when they stop by unexpectedly. It is important to set clear boundaries with friends and family members. Yes, working from home does give you a certain amount of freedom and flexibility to set your schedule. But you set the work schedule according to what you have to get done, not according to your best friend's shopping calendar.

Housework -- It is easy to get pulled away from your desk by that pile of laundry in the bathroom. It's a myth to think that just because you work from home, your home should be cleaner and tidier than if you were working a 9 -5 job.

Lack of Accountability -- Working from home with no one to check in on your progress or keep you accountable to meet goals and deadlines can be a challenge for people who aren't internally motivated. If the work that you plan to do from home is work that you are passionate and excited about, then it will be easier to stay motivated even when 'no one is looking.' If you aren't passionate about the job you are doing and why you are the best person to do it, quitting to do the same type of work at home likely won't make much of a difference.

It's always satisfying to get the laundry done, folded and put away. But when you work from home, doing the laundry can turn into a big distraction that takes you away from your job tasks.
It's always satisfying to get the laundry done, folded and put away. But when you work from home, doing the laundry can turn into a big distraction that takes you away from your job tasks. | Source

The Challenges of Working with Other People in an Office

At the same time, while you may find yourself easily distracted at home, there are just as many things that can keep you from getting your work done at a 9-5 gig.

Office Politics -- Gossip, bullying and workplace harassment are not just a distraction at work, these toxic factors can drain employees of energy and enthusiasm.

Endless Meetings -- Anyone who has ever worked in an office knows how much time and energy a disorganized meeting schedule can interfere with productivity. We've all seen the agenda that's three pages long, or had to sit through a meeting where a colleague hijacks the conversation and only stops long enough for a sip of water.

Talkative Co-Workers -- There is nothing wrong with a little friendly chit-chatting at work from time to time. It keeps the mood light and offers a bit of respite from a hectic schedule. But some coworkers take the talking to an extreme, going on and on without consideration for your pressing deadlines and full to-do list, making it impossible for you to get any work done.

Lack of Privacy or Control Over Your Personal Space -- Recently it was reported that the inventor of the modular desk space system was dismayed by what his invention had evolved into: the square office cubicle.1 Nick Saval, the author of Cubed: The Secret History of the Workplace, says:

Initially, the adjustable walls that make up the modern cubicle were meant to be kept at a 120-degree angle, giving workers privacy when they needed it, while also making them available to coworkers they wanted to speak with.2

Instead, the flexible system designed to allow office workers to create task stations within their own work stations has become synonymous an organizational system that mutes creativity and individuality while amplifying noisy distractions.

The design of the modern open concept office plan means having to deal with noisy co-workers sometimes.
The design of the modern open concept office plan means having to deal with noisy co-workers sometimes. | Source

What do you think? Can you get more done working from home on your own terms? Or do you prefer having a set schedule and clear rules and guidelines to follow while working in a 9-5 office environment?

If the pay was exactly the same, which would you prefer?

See results

Source notes:

1. Taube, Aaron; The Man Who Invented The Cubicle Went To His Grave Hating What His Creation Had Become; Business Insider

2. Saval, Nick; Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace

© 2017 Sally Hayes

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  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 9 months ago from England

    Yep definitely in an office! lol! been writing here and other places for around 6 years now, lost my job back then and boy do I want to get back in an office. I don't feel that I have the patience and willpower to actually just work on my own!