Pros And Cons Of Working From Home

Is working from home, as a recent study and various people have suggested, actually harder than working from within an office?

As in, when you work for yourself, you often have to have both a business and a creative brain – that’s no easy task! In addition, as some argue, it can be nigh impossible to separate your work life from your home life and achieve a balance when you’re plugging away in a home office.

RELATED: Working From Home: 5 Productivity Tips

Hmm, my jury is out. Certainly, there are many pros and cons with each option, as I’ve discovered since my recent, big career change when I left my full-time employer after a 10-year tenure, while on maternity leave, to become a full-time freelance journalist.

And yet, on the rare occasions when I do think escaping to a tiny, cluttered one-desk partition somewhere would be paradise, I remind myself of some of the tyrannical people and conditions under which I’ve worked, and give myself a little uppercut.

And while I was under no illusions freelancing would be a picnic, it’s certainly proven to be harder than I thought, at times – less Carrie from Sex and the City glamour and more what-the-hell-have-I-done tearing my hair out as I strive to bash out stories while my two toddlers under 3.5 zoom around the room.

Don’t get me wrong – there are many joys and rewards from working from home, but it’s important to understand when you go into business for yourself that you may have a steep learning curve along the way. Here are some “boss babe” business lessons I’ve learnt the hard way:

working from home, careers, time management

It’s business time

Pro: When you work from home, running your own business, you have enormous personal freedom and space in which to produce your best work. And while you still often have to report to a boss when telecommuting, there’s a lot of joy that comes from not having one up in your grill all the time because you work at home.
Con: You, yes you are responsible for everything from the admin and filing through to the invoicing, not to mention your output. There’s no one to delegate tedious tasks to and/or blame for poor workload or dodgy time management. The buck stops with you, baby.

Pants-off Friday

Pro: Working from home, you can go about your daily business however you please. You can even get your kit off if you want to – check out the crazy funsters behind the annual Work In The Nude Day!
Con: Slovenly habits can ensue if you’re not vigilant. I like to dress up a bit and will often do my hair and basic make-up for my work-from-home gig – mainly so as to activate my business brain and resist the temptation to work in my jarmies. I do not particularly enjoy working in the nude, but power to those who do!

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Politics of fear

Pro: One of the most wondrous aspects of working from home is you don’t have to endure a viper’s nest: work politics will not worry you here – there’s no bully boss, and/or misogynist colleague, or malicious water cooler gossip to contend with.
Con: Working from home can be lonely if you’re not careful. Sometimes, I miss the social interaction and madness of a big newsroom. Happily, social media, not to mention your real friends, are only a mouse click away these days.

Know your enemy

Pro: Working from home means no pesky office co-workers with which to annoy you with their anti-social habits, such as shouting on the phone, stealing your stationery and/or your ideas and leaving half-eaten sandwiches in rotating desk drawers (yes, this actually happened to me).
Con: While you may have escaped dastardly co-workers, working from home may mean having to share your personal space with your husband (who also telecommutes), babies, cat and dog – all of whom will constantly clamour and fight for your attention, no matter how busy you are and how many deadlines you have to meet.

Housework hell

Pro: You often, out of sheer necessity when working for yourself, have to become adept at ignoring that pile of washing, for example, that needs doing if you have an important deadline.
Con: Slave/child labour was abolished and you gotta learn to get better at the work/home juggling act (besides, toddlers don’t make very obedient laundry helpers, either). So, in prioritising housework depending on deadlines, this may mean a slightly messier house for a day, and so be it. Sometimes, something has to give and that’s OK.

working from home, careers, time management

What important business lessons have you learnt working from home?

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Make Working From Home Work For You

‘It’s great that you can work from home, because then you can do some housework, too.’ I’ve heard this only too often. It reflects a common perception people have that when you work from home you can also do chores, look after kids, exercise and get some rest all at the same time. Maybe, you’ve even tried to live up to these expectations just to find yourself overwhelmed, burned out and wondering what you’re doing wrong.

I’ve done it myself. For years I had a contract job that required a minimum of 10 hours a week. I also had two young kids, one of which was with me full time, so I spent my days worrying where I was going to find the time to complete my work. My kids weren’t getting my full attention and my work was taking a lot longer than it was necessary because I was exhausted.

It all changed when I took some time off work to be with my kids during school holidays. Even though my days were still full, I felt relaxed and I had the best time I’d had in a while. I realised the importance of focusing on one thing at a time and I implemented some changes which made working from home less stressful and more enjoyable.

Have scheduled work time

This is time dedicated to work only, with minimum interruptions and when someone else is looking after the kids. When you know your work time is scheduled, you don’t need to worry where those hours are going to come from and if the baby will wake up just as you’re getting fully immersed in your work project. It may not sound like a big deal, but it makes an enormous difference to your energy levels. Now all that energy spent worrying can go towards enjoying your life and getting your creative juices flowing.

Look after yourself

If you’re happy and well-rested, you’ll be more productive and you’ll get things done faster. It seems obvious, but it’s one of those things that’s very easy to overlook under the pressure of deadlines and parenting responsibilities. In addition to scheduled work time, schedule time just for you. It doesn’t have to be a big chunk of time (it would be nice, but not realistic for many of us), but you do need something, even if it’s just a walk, a yoga class or an early night in bed.

Get support

You’ll need support on a practical level, to make your schedule happen, especially if you have kids and you need to arrange care for them. You’ll also need emotional support. Working from home can be a lonely business. You don’t get the social interactions that come with going to work, so it’s up to you to include them in your life. Take some time to build and maintain your friendships. Join a network of people who do something similar to what you do, so that you can talk about work, share your experiences and exchange knowledge.

If you’ve gotten the impression that working from home is too hard and not worth the effort, I’d like to set that straight. As well as its challenges, working from home has its rewards. I love that I don’t have to get dressed up and travel in peak hour to the office. I love that I get to honour my introverted nature, focus on my work and avoid office politics. Most of all, I love the sense of freedom that comes with working from home.

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By Tatiana Apostolova

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