Is working from home as great as it seems?

The concept of working from home (a remote job) could be quite appealing. Chances are you didn’t consider it possible or worth trying till Covid 19 lockdowns forced it upon you, then you got ‘enlightened’. I’ve been working from home for over 10 years and its not as it seems on the surface. Don’t get me wrong, its great, but not all rosy from my experience.

You see, working from home requires you to be very disciplined. If you slack here, it all can quickly become a nightmare.

What are the benefits of working from home?

The three most prominent benefits I can think of are:

1. You Have More Time On Your Hands

Getting ready for work and your transit to and from work take a significant chunk of your working day. If traffic is a big deal where you stay then you already catch the drift. The time it takes you to drag yourself out of bed, exercise, take a bath, fix meals, get to work before booting up your PC and find your way home after a tedious day are wiped out just like that. Work is as close as your PC’s power button.

2. You Save Money 

Working from home means you need fewer clothes, do less laundry, spend less on transportation / gas and save money by eating lunch at home. How much you could potentially save depends on your work place and personal habits;¬† whether you cook or order food, whether or not you get free transportation, whether you have to dress casual or corporate, free lunch at work…. or not.

You might be able to list other benefits but I think they’ll somehow be related to these two

3. Your Work Schedule Can Be More Flexible

While you have a task and deadline like any other worker, working from home allows you schedule your day how you wish so far you hit the target for the day. You can do the laundry or dishes while you plan or collaborate with colleagues on a conference call.

You choose what hours of the day you work depending on whether you’re a wee-hours, morning, afternoon or night person. You may even find it advantageous to your personal life since you can attend to some personal things while you work.

How could working from home possibly be a problem?

Its difficult to classify remote work as a bad idea but there are some myths that are easy to buy into but aren’t true.

1. You don’t work less, you actually work more

This probably makes no sense to you but look at it from your Employer or Boss’s perspective. If you’re expected to work 9 am – 5 pm with 30 minutes to one hour break in-between, then considering the traffic and fatigue factor, you’re probably not giving your best.

If, on the other hand, you were working from home, it automatically means you have more time on your hands. Steadily and surely, your work load will increase because you will start getting dragged to your work PC because a colleague or superior needs something urgently. This may eventually seep into odd hours not because you should be working but because you can.

2. Your health could be at risk

A drop in your exercise routine, less frequent bathing and brushing, wearing the same clothes and underwear (day in, day out), eating too much or junk food, taking fewer walks for fresh air…these and many more unhealthy habits could easily take over if you let your guard down.

You’re probably wondering how these could possibly find their way into your life. The answer lies in the fact that going to work creates some kind of routine for you. Many areas of your life are likely to fall in the routine line too. The moment you switch to working from home but fail to create a new routine, you start to slack.

3. The thin line between work and family gets even thinner

Leaving for work makes it easier to separate work and family. They however get more difficult to separate when both share the same physical space. This isn’t to say its impossible to separate them in such a situation, its just more difficult. Next thing you know, you’re on an office call while attending to a family member. You’re on the office computer while instructing the handy Man on what needs fixing. Friends and family who drop by expect you to keep them company. You’re expected to run more errands because you ‘work from home’ etc.

The idea of working from home probably gives you the impression that you’ll be able to spend more time with family, maybe even go out more often with them. Unless you’re very disciplined with time management, its just wishful thinking.

Conclusion

The work-from-home advantage is centered around you being comfortable and having your most important tools at home. If you can’t wait to get out then working remotely could still work well for you, not just from home.

Collaboration is unlikely to suffer thanks to the advancements in collaborative tools; I however recommend face-to-face interactions with colleagues from time to time. You might have to deal with some boredom and somehow not let your quest for entertainment affect your work hours…discipline!

Overall, you need to very disciplined else working from home (which should be great) could easily become a nightmare.