The very first week after leaving school, I attacked the life of being a full time employee. Thirteen years and thirty or so thousand hours later, I look back at the years of waking up at five in the morning, taking a power breakfast of a cup of coffee that I drink on the bus so I can get to work by eight o’clock. I smile at the surprising tediousness of picking a power outfit that is fashionable at the same time comfortable for work. I feel weary just thinking about the morning commute. Then, I smile at the round of “hellos” during the early morning huddle before we tackle the day’s work. I clap to myself as I recall how we met target upon target upon target. My heart leaps with joy as I remember my very first bonus and how I spent it. I remember every time I feel honored to be working with such great people, professionals who are really good at what they do and are proud of it. These are what I will be leaving behind if I choose to join the world of work-from-home professionals.
Today, thirteen years and thirty or so thousand hours later, I ask myself, if working from home is for me or not. What do I have to gain and what will I have to give up?
First, working from home is not for everyone. There are those who work better when they are around a lot of people. They thrive of the energy generated by several bodies who are working towards the same goal. On the other hand, there are those who prefer working on their own, away from the distractions of other people. There are also those who choose to work from home because of circumstances that they have to adjust to. For example, parents who choose to be around their children as much as possible. There are also those, in particular wives, who need to keep moving because of their spouse’s job or career like wives of military men or wives of men in sports who need to travel where the game is. There are also those who are retired and just want to be able to earn some money to augment their retirement benefits. Finally, there are those with physical disabilities who cannot or have difficulty moving around.
What are some of the pros of working from home?
#1 The first and most important, based on a survey conducted by Forbes.com is having a work/home balance especially for those with their own children. There is nothing more satisfying for someone working hard to be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor with their family.
#2 Save yourself from the stress and cost of traveling to work. If you live a hop and a skip away from your office, you are one lucky person. Unfortunately, there are those who need to commute for at least an hour just to get to their workplace.
#3 Relieve yourself from a stressful and sometimes competitive work environment and be able to choose how, when and where you will work for as long as you meet your targets or what is required of you.
What are some of the cons of working from home?
#1 If you are someone who is aspiring to move up the corporate ladder, working from home may hinder you from achieving this goal. In some companies, a criteria for promotion is being able to serve as an inspiration and a good example to your colleagues. The more that they see you in action and the effect that you have in energizing those that work with you, the more eligible you are to be considered for a leadership role.
#2 Most companies provide a distraction-free environment to ensure the productivity of their employees. For some, this includes an enclosed room for those who need a quiet place to think or channel their creativity. When you are working from home, unless you lock yourself in your home office, it will be a challenge to attain a distraction-free environment. Even then, the temptation to go to the kitchen for a snack or peep at the television to check the news is high.
#3 Finally, for some, working from home makes you feel isolated. Especially for some who has been doing so for thirteen years, you will miss having to put on your best clothes for work, take the bus and laugh to yourself about the odd habit of other commuters, take a quite detour to your favorite coffee shop once a week for a cup of coffee and finally, toasting that cup with your work buddy who will help you get through a very important target when the time comes.
So, thirteen years and a million or so hours later, I am carefully considering these pros and cons. It is a tough decision because I know that working in an office in not for everyone, but so is working from home.