Working from home….everything you hoped?
As a self-employed person, the natural thing to do is to work from home and it seems it is on the rise amongst both the self-employed and also those who are employed.
So what are the pros and cons?
Here are some pros…and cons that I experience as someone working from home on their own.
No 1. The Commute
No commute! Generally, unless I have to meet a client, survey a property, or go to a meeting etc the majority of my time is spent sitting at my desk. The time that was spent driving to an office, and in my case this was up to 45 mins can now be used more productively. I would imagine, and speaking to other people that work from home, it would seem to be one of the more beneficial aspects.
It’s strange how the drive to work is synonymous with having a job. Working from home removes this and maybe the notion of having a ‘proper job’ lost. I sometimes work for others in their office, so have to do the commute to work. The routine of having to get up and get out, having a start and finish time and knowing that your day is over when you are on your way home can be an advantage.
No 2. It’s Cheaper.
Certainly is, working at home removes the need to commute for starters, plus no office to rent! Lower overheads can always help when running a business so clearly a win, win.
Can there be a downside if it’s cheaper? Well, there still is a cost when running a business from home. A minimum of eight hours per day of additional electric and heating still comes at a cost.
No 3. Flexibility
There can be a great deal of flexibility during the working week. It would be possible to have an earlier or later start and finish time. Even swapping a weekday for a day during the weekend if necessary. Maybe the flexibility allows for a better work/ life balance and certainly, there are times when being able to arrange appointments etc can be a bonus. Those times when you need to buy a birthday present, see the shopping in or do other chores can be fitted in during the day.
Flexibility comes at a cost, all those times when you do ‘other things’, well these can’t be charged to a client. If you take a little longer to have lunch or nip out and buy that birthday present, then that costs in both time and money. Sure you are entitled to a lunch break, same as anyone else but the notion that you can please yourself is misplaced. Frequently, that time needs to be made up, so you just work a little longer, after all, there’s no commute!
No. 4 Quiet
If you work from home, especially if you are on your own then there is no problem of noise and interruptions. You can sit at your desk in peace and quiet or have the radio on while working. You can please yourself. There’s no ‘which radio station should I listen to’ or interruptions from other members of staff asking questions etc, particularly when trying to get some piece of work finished.
It’s quiet! There can be times when you can feel a bit isolated. Spend the whole day without seeing anyone and you can feel like you are the only person left on the planet. Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration but you get the point. It’s not that my home office is not a nice place to work, it’s large enough, comfortable and is close to the sea, even has a sea view. There are definitely worse places to work. Not having someone to bounce ideas off, discuss various designs or just chat is a major disadvantage of working from home.
No. 5 Home is work/ work is home
It’s easier to manage the work/ life balance. If there is some personal business that needs to be done or a home delivery that needs to be seen in. Well, these can be fitted in during the working day. That certainly helps the household cogs turn more easily.
When you work from home it can be difficult to separate the two. It’s always there, sure you can close the door but you are only seconds from answering the phone or an email comes through so you answer it straight away even if that means just firing up the computer to check a dimension that was asked for. After all, it’s right there and will only take a second. It’s definitely easier to separate the two if the office is 5 miles away.
I’m lucky, in that my office at home is self-contained and I am able to shut the door and leave it, but I can imagine working from home in an allocated area say in the lounge would be difficult to manage.
OK, so is it good to be working from home?
Well as you can see in my experience each pro has its con. In my case, renting an office away from home wouldn’t make financial sense but equally the isolation that can occur when working on your own at home is not so good, it’s nice (sometimes) to be around people. There are plenty of distractions when at home and self-discipline to treat your home office as a proper place of work is essential. Environmentally it is a good idea, fewer people commuting has got to be better for the planet and in an age of ever-increasing use of technology, I can work from almost anywhere.
OK so at the time of writing this, I’ve had another cup of tea (distraction) but my commute will take 30 seconds long. So I guess I’ll keep working from home!