More and more Americans are working from home, thanks to tech advances that make communication and collaboration over the miles easier. But before you take the plunge into a work-from-home situation, consider the pros and cons of this option…
Working from Home Pros:
1. Offers greater flexibility for moms. If you work from home, you likely have more control over the hours you work, and can carve out time for doctor’s appointments, attending the school party, or dropping off and picking up your kids from school. However, some employers want their work-from-home staff to be available at all times during standard office hours, so make sure you’re clear about expectations.
2. Cuts out commute time. Some parents sacrifice an hour or more on each end of the work day just getting to and from the office. When working from home, it’s like adding another two hours back to your day—time that can be invested in the kids, exercise, or preparing a family meal.
3. It’s always Casual Friday. Working from home cuts out the need for so many work-appropriate clothes, and gives you a break on the budget in this area. It’s also just nice to be able to spend a rainy work day in your favorite cozy sweater and yoga pants, rather than tromping down the sidewalk to the office in heels.
4. Savings on lunch and gas. Unless you’re disciplined enough to pack a lunch every day, working away from home will cause you to dine out for lunch pretty frequently. Work-from-home types can just cruise into the kitchen and heat up last night’s lasagna, saving major dollars. Ditto for saving on transportation costs from eliminating that commute.
Working from Home Cons:
1. Isolation. If you thrive on the social interaction and collaboration that comes with an office environment, working from home might feel isolated and lonely to you.
2. Distractions at home. Working from home requires a different level of self discipline. After all—there’s no one around to know if you’re on task all day, and you have no accountability outside of your own integrity. If you work for an employer, you have to find a way to create a work environment at home that keeps you focused and putting in the hours each day that you’d devote to your job in the office. If you’re self-employed, you still need boundaries to make sure that things get done, or your productivity—and income—will suffer.
3. Cost of setting up a home office. To work from home, you’ll have to make an initial investment in basic equipment for production and communication with your employer and/or clients. A computer, printer, fast internet service, and conferencing accessibility are important to making yourself efficient and available.
4. Corporate disconnect. Remember the water cooler, where you learned about that coveted position that was opening up in your department, or that lay-offs were coming and you’d better be on your toes? Working from home cuts you off from some of this type of important info. You’ll have to be more proactive about networking and staying in the loop with your co-workers and bosses.
5. Keeping work and family separate. When you’re working at home, you have to be careful that your work doesn’t spill into family time. Just because you can work from home doesn’t mean you should be available 24/7. When you’re off-duty, be sure you switch your focus to family.