Pros + Cons to Working from Home
Recently, there’s been a huge rise in the ability and desire to work from home! We’re in a day and age of technology and web-based work which makes it easier than ever to find a position where working remotely from home is entirely doable!
As with everything, however, there are pros and cons. As someone who has been working from home for nearly 3 years, I feel like I’ve experienced all the highs and lows of working from home, and am still learning more and more every day.
I’m writing this article for two reasons: Validation for everyone else that works from home, because you’re doing a good job and it’s easy for others to miss that sometimes, and 2) helping others weigh their options when faced with the decision to work remotely.
I hope you find these helpful! Because I don’t want to sugarcoat anything, I’m going to start with the less obvious cons list.
Expectations remain the same at work
This might not seem like a con, but realistically it is. When I first started working remotely, it was a huge shift! My productivity level went from being one of the fastest on our team to being one of the slowest. Not because I wasn’t trying, but because I was one of the first remote workers and we were getting our VPN and remote network access set up - I was the guinea pig and there were a lot of network issues.
Even after the network was set up, uploading and downloading projects can take up to an hour, so it took a lot of time figuring out how to work that out so that I wasn’t left for 1-2 hours just staring at my computer.
Being a diligent worker, that was really hard for me to accept. Suddenly my productivity levels dropped significantly due to circumstances outside of my control, but the expectations for my performance remained the same; I still received the same amount of projects, so I was constantly behind (and still feel this way, nearly 3 years later.)
It’s something I’ve had to learn to accept, and thankfully my boss has been incredibly understanding.
Communication with your team is hard
When I first became a remote worker, we had maybe 1-2 other people who were about 50/50 in the office and at home, and then myself, a full-time remote employee. Consequently, so much vital information would be lost and never make it to me.
Although we do have a work chat, many times important information is exchanged in passing and hard to remember to update it in the chat to let everyone know who may not be in the office. Consequently, again, often times I feel like I am left out of the loop (at no one’s fault) and have zero idea what’s going on. Again, it’s something I have learned to adapt and overcome. When I get information, I get it, and when I don’t, I try not to worry about it.
You constantly feel a little behind
As mentioned above, there are often things that happen outside of your control (like a server being down, your personal internet going down, power outages, etc) that can completely bring a stop to your work day. Whether it’s a slow or disabled server connection or power outage, it’s easy to get behind and feel like you haven’t gotten any work done!
Accountability can be challenging
I think this goes without being said. When you work from home, there is no one to make you wake up in the morning, not scroll on facebook for hours during the work day, or stop you from taking a nap when you’re tired. All of that falls on you and being personally accountable for yourself… which means, sometimes you’ll slack a little, and probably feel guilty for it but not tell anyone.
Growth + promotions can be challenging
Being offsite means there is a lot you cannot do, such as in-person training and managing. This makes it challenging for potential growth and promotions in the future, since you are not physically there to train or manage teams.
You have to work harder to be noticed
Along with growth and promotions, since you’re not in the office and no one sees you, you have to work that much harder to make your presence known and to be noticed as a hard worker.
Ever heard the phrase, “out of sight, out of mind?” It’s a phrase for a reason.
Family and friends assume that since you’re home - you’re free
I’ve talked to many others who work from home and we all agree on this one, which may be the most challenging of all. As I mentioned above, work expectations remain the same, but it almost feels like social and home expectations double. Spouses can unintentionally assume that you being home means you have all the time you need to clean, do laundry, meal prep, do dishes, run errands, and get your work done. Unfortunately, it isn’t always that easy. We’re still working 40-50 hours just like the next person, the only difference is we don’t have a commute, and pants are optional. Everything else is the same.
Regarding friends and other family members, it’s also challenging setting boundaries. I’ve had many people want to hang out during the day for an extended lunch hour, or ask me to run an errand for them since I’m “home” or make phone calls, manage schedules, etc. The fact of the matter is, I still have to work and those things take time away from work. Learning to say no can be challenging, but is crucial.
No sick days / snow days
Although we don’t really have snow days in Texas, we do have bad weather days, and all of us get sick at some point in time. It’s quite hard to justify not working when these conditions pop up, however, because nothing really changes for you. You’re still at home with full access to everything you need (aka your computer). I think it’s hard for companies to understand that even though you’re home and can lie down and work from bed, it does take its toll on your health & brain fog is REAL when your body is fighting sickness. Or when bad weather conditions pop up, again, you still have full access to your computer while everyone else gets an “off” day.
You forget to get out of the house
Sometimes days can pass before I realize I literally haven’t stepped outside at all. It’s almost like I forget how to interact with the world when I do get out, too!
This one is great, especially if you live in a city like Austin with the world’s worst traffic (like me). Sometimes I forget how terrible traffic is since I never have to drive in it! I feel really grateful that my commute is a walk from my bedroom to my office! It not only saves a lot of time in the morning, but saves gas money as well.
Silence + Introvert Time
I’m the biggest introvert I know, and working from home has been a game changer for me. I never realized how exhausted I was before, being around people 40+ hours a week and then coming home to a roommate or loved one. Now that I work alone, I am basking in all the silence and introvert time I need and it’s AMAZING.
For this reason alone, I don’t think I could ever go back to working in an office again.
Slightly More Flexible Schedule
I say slightly because there isn’t necessarily full freedom of schedule here. It is a little bit easier however to pick your start and end times and pick your lunch break. So if you have a doctor’s appointment one day, you can essentially work through lunch and use your allotted lunch break to go to the doctor without putting in a request for time to go to the doctor.
No Dress Code
This is the best. Some days I feel like dressing professionally for myself, other days I feel like wearing sweat and no bra; either way, the choice is always mine to make!
The Ability to Multi-Task
Let’s face it, some projects are really easy (if not, mind-numbing). When I get a project like that, it’s amazing to be able to throw on Netflix in the background to help distract me from how mind-numbing my tasks can become. Before I know it, two hours have passed and I’ve completely busted out a project!
My husband laughs at me for this one, but I’m not lying - Netfix actually does help me concentrate! LOL
The Freedom to Work ANYWHERE
I’m not going to lie, this is the VERY best PRO to me. As long as I have internet, I could up and relocate to any country in the world and still have a job! Although my husband and I have a house in Austin and are settled here, I am 100% confident in knowing that if we had to move, “work” wouldn’t be an issue from me.
Or if I ever get bored from working at home, I can take a few hours to drive to the coast and work with a beach-front view (though I have yet to do that!)