The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

We all get really sick of getting up every morning and going to work. The people, the commute, the boss, it all just gets old really quick.

Well for most people, this daily grind of the rat race is 40, 50 or more years of their life.  It’s really quite depressing.

Is working from home better though?

Well yes AND no. There are pros and cons to working from home.

How would I know?  Well I run a full-time business from home.  My wife works with me while caring for our kids and I’ve been in this situation for a few years now.  Needless to say, there were some initial barriers to overcome.

One thing is for sure, I vastly prefer running a business from home than being an employee that travels to work every day.

It’s not everyone.  But for some people work is a big part of finding daily happiness.  My job was the best I could see myself in. When I worked for someone else, I had trusting and very laid back bosses with basically no authority to answer to.

But some people will prefer to work outside of their home, so below I’ll go through the reasons for and against so you can educate yourself and make a better decision.

If you aren’t in a position to watch the above video, please continue reading below!

Let’s get into it!

The Pros of Working from Home

Pros of working from home

This is what everyone thinks of before taking the leap – how much better it will be to wake up and walk into work in your pyjamas with a coffee. But there are more benefits than you realize, believe me.

So let’s get into it..

Flexible hours

You office is highly accessible to you and you have no boss to answer to, you can do your typical 9 – 5 hours or work from 6 at night to midnight.  The choice is yours.

If you can keep up the communication you need with clients then you can easily work around your life to certain degree and still get a lot done.  I quite often shift my schedule from the 9 – 5 hours around if I have something on a certain day.

I ask no one, I don’t need permission, and I just take what time I want or need. As a matter of fact, I’m finishing work at noon today (time of writing) to go a non-work event.  It’s such an awesome feeling!

No boss

Show up to work at 11am, no one will stop you. Eat at your desk?  Definitely. Wanna work in your underwear?  Do it.  Just don’t meet clients that way.

You are the decision maker and as long as you weigh it up and can’t see an issue with your decisions, than you can do whatever you want. The main thing is to assess your productivity around your behavior and make sure you’re still getting things done and earning a living.

Without a doubt, this is the biggest draw for most people looking to start an online business from home!

More time with family

Every few hours, I take a break during my day and I go to pull faces at my young daughter and make her giggle. There’s no way I was able to that at my old job!

Imagine being able to be there for all of the important things that being chained to an office desk denies you. The flexibility of being you own boss while being at home where your family may or may not spend their day, gives you more opportunity to be there for those who are most important to you.

I often take time off to head to the doctor with my wife for any medical check ups, I can just make the time up later. Working at home with your family makes all of that possible, even whilst your working if they’re nearby.

Casual dress

You can choose to have a uniform and dress for work if you decide you need that to get into the right mode, but most people lose the association with clothing and work and simple get to it, wearing whatever they need to!

You can wear a singlet, no shoes, and a pair of boxers and no one cares because you’re at home.  But it is good to have something smart to pop on if clients come to your home.

It’s entirely your choice!

More earning potential

If you own a business, straight away you have more earning potential because you are not capped by a wage. There are a number of ways this works in your favor:

  • If you trade time for money, you can work more hours.
  • If your services are a package price, as you get more efficient and quicker you can earn more within a time period.
  • Regardless of your business, being at home usually means less overheads, increasing your profit margin.
  • You split your day, work on building a passive income and do as little or much as you want. You don’t have a boss to stop you!

There are far more ways than the above, but you get the idea ;)

Control Your Work Environment

Yeah, you get to do things your way!

Remember that time you blasted Pantera in the office and put death metal posters on the wall?  Then your boss came in and told you not to do that? Yeah, well you’re at home and whatever you say goes.

I personally play a lot music at home while I work (not write though).  The ability to do whatever you feel will make your day better is an option.  This is also a big draw for many people.

No more travelling to work

It’s crazy, I used to drive 5 minutes to work.  That’s it. Barely worth complaining about, yet I find my time to be so much more open when all I need to do is step into my office.

It’s not just the drive, it’s getting ready for the drive, getting your things together and the whole cost of maintaining your car and petrol that make a difference.

If you live in a city, you could be driving an hour to work! Step back from that job into a home based business and you just created 2 hours a day or 10 hours a week to do what you want.

Totally worth it!

Less likely to buy lunch

You’ll save time, money, be healthier and less distracted by the surrounding cafe’s and take away shops when you’re at home. It’s so easy to step out at lunch and grab a burger or coffee and you’re just spending the money you’ve been earning all morning and probably not eating well.

It’s far easier to control your diet when you control the flow of food.  If you have to get into your car and make a trip just to eat, you’ll often put it into the ‘too hard basket’ and just eat what you have in the house.

This was a big deal for me as I try to eat as healthy as possible, which I’m sure matters greatly to you also!

Can reduce stress

All of these factors plus the added level of control and absence of a micromanaging boss usually leads to a less stressful lifestyle.

There is an adjustment period though.

When you change your work situation, things can be stressful in the beginning, but once you overcome the change your life tends to be more flexible and less stressful.  So you actually end up happier, doing better work and forming stronger relationships because you’re a calmer, more controlled person than before.

Tax advantages

Before I worked from home I was already paying for internet, electricity, my phone and any office related purchases (computers, desks, chairs) that I made.

Now I get to claim all of those things on Tax and get some money back at the end of the financial year.

Even better, I actually put these down as expenses in my business and now it doesn’t even come from my personal budget.  Which means whatever I pay myself is more for me than for bills and expenses.

I even get a monthly claim on the house itself simply for being in it when I run my business.  It’s a very nice perk!

Cons of Working from Home

Cons of working from home

Yes, there are disadvantages to running a business from home.

The type of person you are, your situation and personal life will dictate whether or not the pros outweigh the cons.  For most people reading this article, I would say they cons are easier to deal with than an overbearing boss and the inconveniences associated with going to work (instead of staying home for work).

But check out the points below and decide for yourself!

More distractions

You are in your own space.  You’ve designed it to be relaxing, fun, and an escape from the crap you deal with in the outside world.

This can all draw you away from your work and distract you into an unproductive routine.  So you do need the disciple to tell yourself “this is work time” and focus all of your energy into knocking over that list of tasks at the right time.

Create a distraction free environment where you work.

Learning to switch off is difficult

This may also be a case of learning to switch on.

When you are in the one environment and very suddenly trying to live two lives, one of work and one of leisure, it’s more difficult to switch between the two when the time comes.  It’s no surprise, but the change in location from work to home, is a strong environmental switch that makes it easier for you to unconsciously identify what is work time and what isn’t.

I personally found myself checking emails all night and on weekends and my brain was always thinking about work.  This lead to another problem, people noticed I was available on weekends and after hours and starting calling and asking for things – completely destroying my relaxation which I worked hard simply to get into the mindset for.

You need set boundaries and cues either internally or externally to make sure you don’t have this problem.

Here’s some ideas that worked for me, and could help you:

  • Have a designated office.  Don’t hang out and relax in your workspace, this will help you unconsciously make the switch – especially if you shut the door.
  • Set a work schedule. It can be 9 – 5 Monday to Friday or it can simply be a calendar with different times  depending on what’s going on your life, ensuring that flexibility. When the time is set, then start.  When it finishes, switch off and leave your desk.
  • Plan overtime, don’t work into it. If you look up 5pm and you need to get more work done, simply continuing to work is setting up some bad habits.  Even if it’s that afternoon or 3 days earlier – write down the start and end time and stick to it. You will be far more sane in the long run.
  • Consider a Uniform.  This could be a plain black tee and shorts, or an Embroidered Uniform.  Feeling proper and dressed for work can help switch you on, just change into something casual when you’re done.  I used to do this as it helped initially, but eventually I was able outgrow it and switch on or off without a uniform.
  • No distractions – don’t watch TV or YouTube while you work. Make sure the only thing in front of you is business when you work and then you’ll more enthusiastically relax with those activities after.
  • Hide your phone or have two phones. People will call you at 10am on Sunday. If it suits your business, you need to learn to ignore and chase up on Monday morning. Otherwise your mind will never truly be free of work. If you were working away from home, you wouldn’t receive these calls unless someone had your mobile/cell phone. If you have a work mobile phone, hide it outside of hours and put it on silent – consider getting a ‘friends and family‘ phone and tell people not to give out the number.

Once you reach a point where work is ‘fenced off’ for your personal life, you’ll really start to appreciate working from home :)

People don’t take time seriously

Many people assume your laying around on your couch talking on Facebook and passing it off as marketing.

Not true, you’re busy trying to get things done and they may drop around for a chat or ask you to help them move. Believe me, people actually think this.

Set your boundaries, as stated above, and don’t let anyone interfere with your schedule unless absolutely necessary.

You need to motivation and discipline

As mentioned before, you can get trapped in leisure mod when you should be working.

You need to mentally develop your working mode and leisure mode and learn to switch between the two in order for any of this to work. Remember when you’d slack off and spring into to action as the boss walked past?  That’s actually really useful to keep you productive.

Discipline yourself and set goals to be motivated enough to really sink your teeth into your work.

It can be a less stable income

This is the biggest barrier for people switching to home based business owners or business owners in general.

The buck stops with you, there’s no security or stability in the same way as a wage.  Sometimes you have big weeks where you rake it in and other weeks you make no money at all. Most people pay on time, some people take forever or don’t pay at all.

It’s your responsibility to manage this so you can continue to live during the down periods. It’s not hard though, you need a buffer.

Try to keep 3 months of operating costs in your bank account. This may mean working hard and saving before going full time.  Essentially that means you bank account bounces up and down while you wait for customers to pay, but you’ll always have this week’s money ready to go as long as you are doing enough work.

If there’s a downturn, you have 3 months to identify it and sort things out.

There’s another layer though.  You will find it difficult to invest your time and make the money required whilst working, so you may need to weigh up the risks and make the leap at some point.  You need faith in yourself because there is no guarantee you won’t run out of money.

Customers may know your address

During work hours, if you accept the arrival of clients at random times, this is not a problem.

But when a customer shows up Saturday afternoon as you’re relaxing with your family, then you may find yourself holding back a rage which could threaten everyone’s safety!  So only give out your address to customers you trust will respect your schedule and operate on an appointment basis.

Generally speaking, I either chat online, go to someone else’s business or meet at a cafe if my client is local (which is about half of my business, the rest is online). If none of your clientele is local, this won’t be as big an issue for you.

You lose a room

So you and you partner have 2 kids and live in a three bedroom house?  Wrong. You now live in a two bedroom house (if you decide to use a bedroom for your office).

Your house is a place of leisure but you have to sacrifice some space to your work now, it’s how to pay the rent and feed yourselves.

If you’re lucky you may be able to find a corner somewhere or even a spot in the garage to work.  But make it nice, don’t work in a crappy environment otherwise you’ll regret working from home.

You just need to reorganize the household to fit your work.

Can get lonely

If you’re by yourself, it can get lonely being without human contact all day every day.

This may seem fine in the beginning but it does creep up on you. I’m lucky as my wife works for me so I see her and my baby daughter every day. But there was a time when I was alone all day. I wasn’t too bad but there’s other factors.

If you suffer from anxiety or depression, being at home alone all day will not be healthy for you and can be downright scary in some elevated situations.

It may help to get out of the house at least once every day and see someone. Make 10 – 11 your coffee break and see a friend or family member.  Get your fix so you can stay in the right mindset!

Productivity can suffer

Working from home can be relaxing. No authority, you choose the pace, the hours and everything is done your way.

But all of those things you no longer have to deal with are also the reason a lot of people are productive.

It’s easy to say to your “finally, I can relax and work at my pace” and but sometimes you work slower, start and stop more and get more easily distracted and get less done. If you run a business this means you earn potentially less.

The good news is if you see this happening, you can work on some of the things I’ve mentioned throughout this post to get into ‘work mode’ and knock things over more aggressively.

You can be distracted by work in times of leisure

Sorry, I seem to be repeating myself – for good reason though.

This will happen, and you need to accept it and learn to ignore it.

When you finally finish and chill out with your family, that little voice in your head will be asking “What about that job? You haven’t heard back and you need to get onto it”. So you check your email and nothing yet but something else grabs your attention.  You think you should sort it out while you’re there, you might forget later.

One thing comes after another and before you know it you’ve spent all of your free time working. You get stressed and due to no downtime, a little unhappy. It can even stop you from sleeping at night because your brain knows your work is right there, and you have things to do.

I used to do this and found I never actually caught up with my workload.  If I ever came close, I’d relax and it’d pile up again.  Once I realized I was enslaving myself, I drew the line and chose not to cross it and I still end up making similar progress but with fewer hours.

Constantly working is less productive than dense periods of effort.

Relax and learn to put things off.  If people get unhappy with you for it, let them and learn not to care what they think during your down time.  Switch on the care during work hours and do everything you can then – because your family has earned that down time with you more than your customers have.

Enjoy the pros

Finally, enjoy the pros and workaround the cons.

There’s no perfect environment but if you decide to work from home, constantly ask yourself what the negatives are and create systems and habits to diminish their effect on you.

If you ever intend to run a business you need the skill of problem solving and creating systems if you want to succeed, otherwise you’ll go broke and become chronically stressed.

Use the information above to help get a jump on things before they affect you, you’ll be glad you did.

I hope you found that useful, as always thanks for reading and if you want to continue this conversation, leave a comment below.  We’ll chat soon!