Working from home is the dream of many people. The thought of eliminating the 9-5 grind or dealing with a micromanaging boss are really attractive. So is the idea of being able to sit down to work in a bathrobe instead of getting dressed up according to company standards. There are many great things about working from home, but it also means that a tight schedule has to be kept and distractions must be minimized. Otherwise you might not be as productive as your boss or your business needs you to be. The pros and cons of working from home have some other key points that should be evaluated as well. Here is what to think about if you’re considering the transition to telecommuting, freelancing, or starting your own business opportunity.
What Are the Pros of Working From Home
1. It gives you much more flexibility.
It becomes possible to manage a family life while managing professional responsibilities when you’re working from home. You can take the kids to school, make it to those mid-day doctor’s appointments, or even work on getting the house cleaned as you’re getting work done at the same time. You get to set the schedule of work, even when telecommuting to some extent, and that makes life more manageable.
2. The total amount it costs to commute to work: $0.
Forget having to get up early to fight rush hour traffic to get to work on time. Rushing home after work doesn’t have to happen either. You can get up 10 minutes before it’s time to get working, grab a quick breakfast, and get to work when you’re working from home. The amount of money that can be saved just by not needing to commute can be several thousand dollars every year.
3. You get to work without interruptions.
The only interruptions that happen when you work from home are the ones that you cause yourself. You might leave a Facebook tab up, put on a baseball game in the background, or decide that playing video games as a break is a good idea and then inadvertently extend that 15 minute break into a 2 hour gaming session. What you won’t have are the co-workers with coffee mugs standing by your desk, talking about TV shows they watched which you know nothing about.
4. You get to write off your home office costs every year.
If you’re working from home, then the area that is dedicated to your home office becomes a potential tax deduction. This is especially true for those who are freelancing or self-employed. The actual area of the office, even if it just takes up a portion of the room, can be calculated and this reduces your overall tax expenditures that may exist.
5. If you want to work flex hours, you can do so.
Did you wake up at 3am and can’t get back to sleep? Then you can start working then if you wish and get a full 8 hour work day in before lunch. Not feeling so well when you wake up? Then you can take a few extra hours for yourself, feel better, and then begin working. Even most workers who telecommute are awarded this convenience. As long as a deadline is met, the way that deadline gets met is up to the individual worker.
6. Alcoholic beverages can and do happen.
If you are having pizza for lunch and want to match it up with a beer or three, then you’re the boss when working from home. There are fewer restrictions on what you can or cannot do while working, so if some chardonnay helps to increase the creative process, let it flow. Because you’re in your own home, you get to dictate the terms of your working arrangement in almost every circumstance.
What Are the Cons of Working From Home?
1. If you aren’t working, then you generally aren’t being paid.
Working from home relies on your personal production. If you telecommute, then you might have sick days or vacation time or get paid if the network goes down, but that doesn’t happen for others. If your computer needs to download a firmware update that takes 4 hours and it’s your only computer, then you’ve just lost 4 hours of productivity that has to be made up somewhere.
2. You’re not always in control.
Telecommuting or working from home often relies on a secure internet connection for it to work. If that connection goes down because of an ISP issue, then the only thing you can really do to stay productive is to pack up your home office and go down to the local coffee shop where there’s free wi-fi. You don’t always get to be in control of when or how you get to work.
3. It gets to be a bit of a lonely experience.
After the initial excitement of being able to work from home wears off, you begin to realize that most people don’t actually get to live out this dream. Many employers don’t allow internet contact or personal texting while on the clock, so friendships become limited. They’re at work and you’re at home. A quiet house can be an amazingly bothersome distraction that one would never realize without experience with at-home working.
4. The boss can still be watching over your shoulder.
Maybe you get to telecommute and think that you’re off the hook from a micromanaging boss, but things might get worse. You might not be trusted with all of the distractions that working from home can provide. Software might be installed to track your keystrokes. Your online active times might be monitored. You might even be required to install video chat capabilities for regular updates. If someone loves to micromanage, it’s going to happen one way or another.
5. Two words: estimated taxes.
If you’re working for yourself without a traditional employer making tax withholdings, then you’re going to be paying taxes once per quarter in the United States. The US is a “pay as you go” type of system, which means when you earn money, you’ve got to pay your share to the government. Estimated taxes are the process of the freelancer or self-employed use to make these payments and one lump sum is due every quarter. For someone making $30,000 in profit at home, that could mean a quarterly payment of $750 or more would be required.
6. You’re stuck cleaning up after yourself.
You don’t realize how much you miss a janitorial service until you don’t have one. The soda cans, bottled water, potato chips, snack wrappers, and other needed snacks or beverages can pile up quickly on your desk if you’re not proactive about cleaning it up.
The pros and cons of working from home show that there is some bad that comes along with the good, but for most folks the negative aspects are easy enough to manage. The biggest dangers are the distractions. If you can manage those effectively, then you’ll be able to successfully work from home on any project.