If you are fortunate enough to have a boss that is flexible, or to simply have your own business allowing you to be your own boss, you may be one of the few people in the United States who work from home. And while the overall premise of working from home seems great, there are some precautions and other aspects that such people need to consider. Here we’ll discuss the pros and cons of working from home, along with ways to mitigate said cons.
We’ll start out with the biggest benefit to working at home, which is the ability to essentially cut out wasteful commuting time completely. For most Americans, commutes to work typically take 40 minutes to an hour, one-way, which in other words equates to nearly two hours of your day wasted just driving to and from work. But when you work from home, you are literally living in the same place that you work. Instead of an hour-long drive to get into the office, all it takes is a quick 10 second walk down the stairs, or wherever your main work area is, and you are now ready to start working. The amount of time saved in this manner is quite significant, especially when considering that people are typically working 5 days a week, year-round (more or less). Effectively, you are gaining 2 hours (on average) every work day. Time that can be spent doing literally anything other than work, whether it be some other housework or even just simple rest and relaxation. I don’t think anyone would argue that this benefit of working from home is definitively the best one out of the bunch.
But there are still other smaller benefits. For example, you don’t necessarily need to dress up for work, helping save time and energy in that regard as well. Instead of waking up and having to get into your typical work attire, fix your hair and (for women) apply makeup, you can simply throw on a t-shirt and get right to work, or even just work in your pajamas. Heck, you don’t even need to shower if you don’t want to (although we personally would recommend it, simply in the name of good hygiene). All of this saves time (and to a certain extent money) which will definitely add up in the long run. Plus, the ability to dress the way you want also allows you to be more comfortable in your work environment, which can sometimes be a huge boost to your work productivity.
On the flip side of all these pros however is a fairly significant con: working from home often leaves you unfocused and lowers productivity over the long run. There’s a reason that companies more often than not want their employees to be working at a designated office or other work-related facility, and that is simply to promote productivity during the employees’ working hours. When people are working from home, they are less likely to be sitting at a desk which is one of the best ways to remain productive while working. In addition, simply knowing that their boss can’t physically check up on them at random times throughout the day also may cause employees who work from home to slack off just a bit.
And that doesn’t even get into the host of distractions that come with working from home. While in the office the only real distraction can potentially be your coworkers making small talk either with you or around your office space, at home, there are much more prominent distractions. People at home can easily start watching television while they work, start playing with their kids (if they are home) or their pets, or even start spending unnecessary amounts of time looking through the kitchen for a snack. Not only are these sorts of distractions not prevalent in the office, but because there is no boss to keep an eye out on what you are doing, such distractions become even more pronounced.
So how can you mitigate such cons of working from home, to ensure not only for your boss, but to yourself as well, that you can be your most productive self while staying within the confines of your own home? The answer is to set aside a distinct office space to do your work. For those who can manage maintaining a separate room specifically for work, they can create a “home office” in one of the rooms in their home, which is the ideal situation. But even for those who simply don’t have an extra room available to dedicate as a home office, simply dedicating a distinct office space does the trick just as well.
The most important thing to keep in mind when implementing this strategy is to always make sure that you literally do not do anything else in your home office or at your dedicated office space other than work-related activities. The reason this is so important is because keeping that space reserved only for work will help mimic the type of setting at a real office, where work and play are clearly separated. If you start hanging out in your “home office”, it ends up blurring the line between work and play, thus reducing your overall productivity, whether you realize it or not. But if you can maintain this clear separation of work and play, that’s all there really is to it. Any urges that may pull you away from work and back “into the home” for whatever reason are significantly mitigated by the fact that you are much more aware of the fact that doing so would take you away from your obligation to actually be working. As those urges decrease over time, you will see your work productivity improve. Guaranteed.
Working from home is a privilege that not many people get the opportunity to experience. And while there are many benefits to working from home, it often comes at a cost of decreased productivity, unless you take specific steps to mitigate such costs. As long as you make a concerted effort to separate work life from home life particularly through the use of a home office or dedicated office space, you can see immensely improved productivity while still enjoying the time saved and added comfortability that comes with not having to leave your home to go to work. And all things considered, that’s a pretty sweet deal!