The Pros and Cons of Working from Home – Is It For You?
Have you ever wondered where I’m writing this blog post? Or where do other writers create articles for their website? I’ll tell you, the majority of us as a writer write from the comfort of our home! Yes, you’ve read it right. We’re freelancers and work-at-home moms, dads, students, or just regular citizens of the country.
There are common misconceptions when you tell people, “I am working from home,” or “my clients are from abroad.” They look at you like some alien in front of them. Can you relate to this scenario? Or perhaps you are one of those people wondering and somehow judging work-at-home peeps: “how are they working from home?” What can these people earn in their home? Stress? Pimples? Let’s see.
Knowing the importance of work or employment
First things first, why do people work? You sure have the answer in your mind right now. It is to live! If you can earn money, you will be able to buy necessities for yourself and the family. When you have an income, you will have a decent place to live, do things you love and contribute to the community.
A low unemployment rate defines the stability of the economy of a particular country. Being able to provide a safe and stable workplace for each of its citizens is an indication that the economy is doing well. More than personal benefits, having a permanent and long-term job is also beneficial to society.
Who Does Telecommuting or Teleworking?
A standard view of people about employment is to work in an office, one or two hours away from home, and spend 8 to 9 hours in their work stations. That’s the typical working scenario people have in mind. But what does it mean to become a telecommuter?
A telecommuter’s job varies – he/she is an individual who provides administrative, technical, or professional support to business owners from anywhere in the world. They work remotely – mainly from the comfort of their home, or from coffee shops near their house.
A prevalent telecommuting job title is Virtual Assistant. A Virtual Assistant (VA) can do any other support staff do, except bringing in coffee for the boss. Though in most cases, businesses hire virtual workers for clerical work, these peeps can also do more professional and skillful work such as web design, app/software developing, video editing, accounting, IT engineering and more.
A telecommuter may specialize in a specific niche or two. Some samples of the industries they focus on are IT, e-commerce, online teaching/coaching, marketing, sales, writing etc. There is diversity in being a virtual worker. You can do almost everything!
But be reminded that to set you apart from other telecommuters, you have to be good at something more than them. So if you’re more on social media or marketing side – focus on improving your skills on that level. If you love numbers, perhaps you’d like to learn more about bookkeeping and accounting as many businesses need help with it!
The Essence of Telecommuting
Not everyone is called to be a telecommuter and work from home. It could be everybody’s dream, but not everyone succeeds in this endeavor. As easy as it may sound, working from home has its advantages and disadvantages.
Telecommuting, also known as e-commuting or working from home, is an employment arrangement wherein the staff or employee works outside the premises of an office – basically working virtually. This arrangement began back in 90s when the technology had given people the ability to communicate through the use of many forms, such as a telephone, computer, and other devices. The virtual work is not limited to just working from home, but could also work in a location close to home such as libraries, coffee shops, work stations, shared spaces, etc.
Rather than traveling daily to go to the office, the employee “travels” to a remote location where he/she has a desktop or laptop and internet access to communicate with the team. Often, there could be in-person meetings when needed.
As what has been written in the 2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce, about 3.9 million U.S. employees or around 2.9 percent of U.S. human resources are reportedly work-from-home staff. The average age of telecommuters is 46 years old, and it’s a combination of both men and women.
As you know, there are pros and cons to working from home. It’s not always beneficial, and it’s not more on the downsides as well. For this section, you’ll know more about the perks or benefits of telecommuting and whether or not you should try a career shift.
The site Porch has surveyed over a thousand of working-from-home individuals and asked which are the best parts of remote work. In this survey, they have set out knowledge for people to explore what’s it like to be working from home.
Perks of Working from Home
1 . Traveling time saved!
One of the obvious perks of working from home is the time saved from going to work. The one hour or two hours commuting time to work every day is already exhausting, what more is your 8-9 hours of clicking the mouse and typing on the keyboard? Technically, if you’re traveling more than 2 hours going to the office and going back home, you’re saving almost 48 hours or so every month on commuting! Working from home frees you from the jammed roads and the stressful traffic, stormy weather and other unwelcoming freaks, and even some accidents you might get outside, unluckily..
2. Comfort and flexibility
Who wouldn’t love being in their home and still able to work in their PJs? Awesome, right?! One of the benefits of telecommuting is you get more time with the family. You will no longer miss dinner with them, and you’ll be able to see your parents, your siblings, or children of your own in their daily milestone. This works well for those that are family-oriented like me!
3. Office politics no more!
Isn’t it quite more exhausting if you work in an environment where there are politics? The rivalry between co-employees is there, gossiping in another cubicle also happens, and toxic people around you is evident in an office-based workplace. However, switching to work at home relieves you from these kinds of stressful situations. The best thing here is there is no mental pressure that will burn you out!
4. Cheaper means of working
Aside from savings on your travel expenses, you also don’t need to prepare expensive clothes for work. Corporate clothing is one of the challenges for an office-based employee. Since everyone sees them, they need to wear something formal for work. In working from home, you can still get decent clothing but not too pricey ones. You don’t need to dress super formal – unless you’re attending a virtual conference with your CEO! At least wear a nice top, and leave the bottom with anything.
The only thing that you need in virtual work is a laptop or desktop that could accommodate your type of work. If you’re more on writing and non-voice tasks, i3 CPU is what you need at least. If you’re more on graphic design, website development and calling duties, you will need a better CPU and laptop/desktop processor.
Besides that, a stable internet connection is vital! Some employers require a minimum internet speed before you join into their team. As well, it shouldn’t be overlooked to know how often power outages happen in your area, so you are ready with power backups and all. If it’s quite often, then a laptop would be a better choice for you rather than a desktop.
Since working from home does not require an office, it would be helpful for the employer because they’ll have lesser administrative expenses — no need to pay for an office space rental, electricity, office supplies, and furniture. However, virtual tools needed (virtual communication or management software etc.) should be shouldered by the employers and an internet connection allowance every month is also an incentive given by employers to their virtual staffs.
5. Lesser stress and a healthier environment
Another benefit of being a work-from-home person is that you don’t need to kill yourself to “work.” A famous quote from Marc Anthony says: “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Working from home is a passion and a joy for someone. They enjoy what they do and love what they work on. It’s no longer just a source of income, but a source of energy and fulfillment as well. Do something that energizes you, not something that sucks out your whole being. Agree?
Downsides of Telecommuting
1. Lack of social interaction
As a work-from-home individual, it could be hard for you and the team to communicate and spend quality time with each other. It’s more challenging to set up meetings since you need to consider the schedule of everyone virtually.
Social interaction is a hard thing to make in telecommuting, too, unless you spend a day or two going out and socializing with your friends, church mates, and colleagues. If you’re an introvert, then this could be soothing for you. But if not, lack of social interaction could be your dilemma in deciding on working from home.
What to do: It could be solved, though, by setting a get-together with your co-workers at least once a year. That way, you’ll build a more fruitful and meaningful relationships with your co-virtual workers. You may also schedule a meeting at least once a month to talk about tasks, things to improve, etc. Spend a day or two every week to go out with friends and family, and get away from your work station for a while.
2. Willpower, stress management, and time management issues
You love your work, and you are aiming to finish it at least a day before the deadline. However, Netflix just dropped a new series, and you can’t wait to watch it! Then you’ll watch it now. That’s the time you will most likely cram because of interrupted work and undone tasks. Your productivity is at risk if you’re not disciplined enough.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s also good to have a time to rewind – watching movies, chilling, spending time with yourself or with the family. But have you done your work yet? Are you still within your deadlines? If not, take time to finish them and reward yourself with another hour or two of a Netflix or K-drama episode!
With working from home, you’ll also get distracted with all the stuff going on in your house. Create a schedule, so you know what exactly you need to do at this hour and the next.
3. Time zone differences
Working from home could mean you have clients from all over the world. And by that, you are aware that not all countries have the same timezone, right? Working from home could also mean working graveyard shifts. This could be a threat to your health if you’re not used to staying up all night. Be sure to consult your doctor first and see how your health goes with working at night. The majority might not want this because sleep at night is still the best.
4. Some other cons to working from home:
- Slow internet connection
- Power outages
- Noise (playful kids, roosters crowing, loud music from the neighbors, your mother calling you, etc.)
- The feeling of “always at work” could turn into burnout
- Co-workers and even your employer/client can accuse you of slacking
- You can get more work done – while this could be an advantage, it could also be a risk to your physical and mental health due to overworking.
Not everyone is capable of coping well with lots of freedom in their hands. No matter how dreamy and ideal working from is, again, it is not for everyone. To work remotely, you should have a high level of self-discipline. Otherwise, you’ll get your tasks piled up and left unaccomplished. Telecommuting could be a long journey for you if you ever want to start – but the good thing is, the art of remote work can be learned. The routine, the tools you need, and the technological requirements – you can master them all in time. You wouldn’t know if you’re made for it if you won’t give it a try!