The advances in digital technology have given people and businesses in general more options to improve their streams of income. With improving facilities for Internet, the availability of Intranet processes and the continued evolution of mobile technology more people have resorted to working from home.
From the perspective of a regular office employee, working from home is a greatly appealing concept. The idea of becoming your own boss; being accountable for your own time and matching productivity with effort can be very enticing. But just as there are benefits, there are also clear downsides to working from home.
Benefits of Working from Home
When you work from home you do not have to worry about the daily commute and deal with the everyday threat of being late for work because of traffic.
You do not have to worry or be distracted by the thought of someone watching over your shoulder or being asked to do something else when you are in the middle of work.
There is no need to prepare your lunch early in the morning or wait through lunchtime queues during break time. If you want to eat or have your cup of coffee, you can simply fix your meal at your own kitchen any time of the day.
2. Flexible Work Hours.
If you are a freelancer, you can set your work schedule for your clients. You will have the flexibility to set your schedule to fit in the other activities you have for the day.
However, there are clients who would request a fixed schedule if close collaboration is required. It may also be the same case if your company decides to base you at home. You may still be required to log on the company’s system at a pre-determined time.
3. Greater Productivity.
If you are working from home, the conditions are ideal to generate greater productivity:
- More Productive Hours. As mentioned, you do not have to deal with the daily commute or spend time preparing your meals in the morning. These two activities alone will cost you 2-3 hours of productive time.
- Less Stressful Environment. In addition to the daily inconvenience of traffic, working from home frees you from mundane office politics which can be very stressful.
Working from home basically allows you to maximize your entire day. You can allocate blocks of time to every tasks that you need to do and potentially accomplish more work every day.
For example, identify three (3) tasks and prioritize them in order. Allocate 90 minutes per task and during the respective time period, devote 100% focus on each one. After accomplishing a task, rest for 30 minutes.
Total productive time worked is 270 minutes out of 360 minutes. That is a productivity rating of 75%! Compare that to the average productivity of an office based worked which is calculated at only 19%.
4. Fewer Expenses.
Another big advantage of working from home is you have fewer expenses. Among the usual office employee expenses that are cut out are the following:
- Gasoline or Travel Fare
However, working from home does entail the following expenses:
- Office Supplies
- Power and Utilities
If you are a freelancer, these expenses can be distributed or shared among your other clients. And if you have been based at home by your company, the employer often covers the cost of your Internet and office supplies.
5. More Time with the Family.
Probably the number one reason why people opt to work from home is to have more time with the family. If the children go to school they can have breakfast with them and see them off rather than rushing off to the office every morning.
If the children are on vacation, they can spend time with them during work breaks. Some dedicated parents even allow their children to stay with them inside the home office during work hours so they can be together.
Of course, the children have to remain quiet. They are often asked to study their lessons or read books to while away their time.
6. More Time for Yourself.
The advantage of having flexibility in work hours means having the capability to allocate more time for you.
By working from home, you can dedicate at least one hour 3 to 4 days a week for exercise. You can also see friends and family more often or spend 4 to 6 hours per week networking to expand your contacts.
Having the luxury of doing the things you want to do leads to a stress-free environment. It will give you a more positive disposition and make you a happier person.
7. Greater Earning Potential.
As a freelancer, you can take in as many clients as you comfortably can.
If you were earning $3,500 a month as a regular office worker, you can easily surpass this by signing up 4 clients and charging them the same hourly rate for 2 hours of work per day at 22 work days per month.
If you can sign up more clients, expand your business by hiring virtual assistants or other freelancers to manage the extra work. You will also generate higher net income at the end of every month because you have fewer expenses.
It may seem that working from home is the best option to earn income, save money and build a career. But there are also significant disadvantages.
Downsides of Working from Home
1. More Distractions.
The very same benefits of working from home can prove to be the downsides as well.
With time under your control, you could be lulled into a false sense of complacency and be distracted by the conveniences of home. The television set, the sofa, the telephone and even your family can be sources of distraction.
Of course, without anyone hovering behind your shoulder to check your work you could be distracted to surf the Internet or check social media.
2. Less Competitive Environment.
While it is true that office politics can be stressful it also can light the competitive fire.
Having co-employees can also create a more competitive, yet supportive and productive environment. Working from home may eventually become monotonous for those who are used to having people around them.
Working from home can also be stressful if there are problems with family. Not everyone lives in a peaceful and harmonious home environment. And for these people, the office could be the place of refuge where they can find peace of mind.
3. Logistical Issues.
Even with the advances in technology, shared space collaboration is still difficult to beat.
When you are working in the same room with your team, the energy is higher and focus is greater. There are fewer problems in communication.
When you work from home, the quality of your work could be affected by latency issues; poor Internet connection or problems with the website’s server. These could also lead to more stressful situations.
Given the benefits and downsides of working from home, one thing is certain. The demand for home based work will continue to increase as companies are constantly looking for ways and means to streamline costs without compromising quality of work. It has been estimated that in the United States, 50% of the work force will be working from home in 2020.
If you plan to be working from home, invest in a good computer and contract the services of a reliable Internet Service Provider. Lastly, set up a home office that encourages greater work productivity. Even if you are working from home, do your best to steer clear of distractions. After all, you still have a job to do.
Felix works remotely as a virtual assistant at OutsourceWorkers.com.au. He enjoys blogging about careers and businesses.