Since graduating from university, Paul has worked as a librarian, bookseller, and freelance writer. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.
The recent coronavirus pandemic has dramatically increased the number of people working from home in recent times.
Even before COVID-19 struck, more and more people were taking up the opportunity to work from home, either because they wanted to fit their job around childcare, or to supplement another income such as a pension or part-time job, or simply because they just preferred the flexibility and freedom.
Working from home has both advantages and disadvantages, however. Some people focus on the positives when it is just at an idea, plan, or aspiration stage, but discover later that the practical reality doesn’t always meet their expectations.
In my experience, as a part-time home worker myself, I find that the pros generally outweigh the cons, but it is certainly not a style of working suited to everyone. It takes a lot of self-discipline and organization. There can be financial unpredictability, and you generally lack the support of a wider team. When you do succeed, however, it all seems worthwhile.
Below are my lists of the advantages and disadvantages of working from home.
There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.
— Alain de Botton
8 Advantages of Working From Home
- Less travel time. Traveling to and from work is never much fun. It can be a nightmare getting from A to B at rush hour, the time spent traveling can just seem like a waste of your valuable time, plus the costs of running a car, or paying for train tickets, etc. can really add up.
- Flexibility of hours. You can work hours that suit you when you are working from home. You can fit your schedule around the other essential things that need to be taken care of in your life, such as picking up the kids from school, or taking care of some of the household chores. You also don’t have to wear uncomfortable office clothes or miss an event because you had to be at work that day when you work from home.
- Control of environment. You can set up your workspace to suit yourself, and can often avoid distractions such as loud coworkers, people walking past your desk constantly, or repeated unnecessary interruptions.
- You are your own boss. There is no one watching over your shoulder, telling you how they want things to be done. Nobody making decisions on when you can and cannot take holiday or sick time.
- No difficult colleagues. The people you work with are often a fairly random bunch, so even in the best-case scenario, it’s unlikely that you have a great deal in common with most of them. However, things can be even worse than that if you get stuck all day with individuals that you really cannot abide.
- Household bills can be split with the business. It can sometimes work out cheaper if you are able to allot part of your home expenses as a business expense and make it tax deductible. For example, if you use your internet service during the day purely for business purposes and in the evening for personal use.
- More time with family. Working from home can make it easier to look after kids when they are sick or on holiday, care for pets, or look after an older or disabled family member.
- Incorporating chores. While you certainly don't want your domestic chores to get in the way of your job, there are some that can be easily incorporated into your workday without much disruption. Doing the laundry or running the dishwasher during the day can free up more time for relaxing in the evening or weekend.
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I think the person who takes a job in order to live - that is to say, for the money - has turned himself into a slave.
— Joseph Campbell
7 Disadvantages of Working From Home
- It can be lonely. Very often, working from home can mean working alone, and the lack of social contact and interaction with others during the daytime can definitely be a downside. There may be only limited social interaction and no support.
- Lack of structure. Yes, it’s great not having a boss, but without someone making you do unpleasant things and forcing you to take difficult decisions, you can end up prevaricating forever. Without set times for when you start and finish, you can end up either underachieving, or doing the opposite and working all your waking hours because you don’t know when to stop.
- Earnings are less regular. Going to the office, or your place of work, means a regular wage for most people. But people working from home often have a less predictable income, which takes more effort with managing money and can be more stressful at times.
- No input and ideas from others/learning. Okay, you may be away from all those irritating coworkers, but what about the useful ones? The people who showed you how to do things and taught you new tricks? Plus the coworkers who came up with bright ideas and new approaches - ideas that you would never have thought of in a million years? Having input from others can be useful, as well as stimulating, and shouldn’t be underestimated.
- More complex tax and accounting. Inevitably, your incoming payments and outgoing expenses become more complicated when you are working from home, compared to earning a steady wage from an employer and not having so many tax-deductible expenses. Working from home means more detailed and organized bookkeeping and record organizing for most people, as well as more time spent filling out the tax forms at the end of the year.
- Get-rich-quick scams. It is wise to be wary of advertised work-at-home schemes because many of them are exploitative, or even outright scams.
- Boredom and slow working. Offices and work areas can be buzzing places. It may not be clear how much you rely on others to raise your energy levels until you just have yourself for company.
Quotes on Working From Home
A true balance between work and life comes with knowing that your life activities are integrated, not separated.
— Michael Thomas Sunnarborg
Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2014 Paul Goodman
RAJESH CHANDRA PANDEY from India on October 24, 2014:
I have read about many stories wherein the worker (from home) draws six figure incomes. I think some if not all of these stories must be true.