Having a home office can be a true blessing for a healthy relationship between your home life and your work life. There are several benefits from being able to spend more time with family to being more productive at your job, and many of the drawbacks of commuting to the office are taken away.
However, there can be struggles and drawbacks to a life working from home. If you are not careful, even the positives can turn into negatives, so it is best to understand those potential struggles beforehand. You must know your enemy to defeat them, and if your enemy happens to be yourself, you might have quite the battle on your hand. On the other hand, if you know yourself well, you can be well-prepared for how to structure your days and balance that work-life relationship flawlessly.
The Pros Of a Home Office Environment
Of course, there are an unbelievable amount of draws to working from home. If you are even considering it, you have already thought of several. Still, there might be some benefits you have not even fully considered that may swing that pendulum a little farther away from the office life.
Get More Work Done
Nicholas Bloom, professor from Stanford University, put out a great piece of research on the value of working from home. According to his research, employees more often put in a full shift of dedicated work. They also saved employers around $2,000 by getting their work done more efficiently and using less company resources.
There are dozens of articles proving that those who work from home get more work done. They enjoy life more, are there for their families, and are simply more productive. They have more time for work and more time for their families. This is nothing but a win-win in the right circumstances. The difficulties must be accounted for, or they can sneak up and ruin both the home life and the work life.
Needed Tools of the Trade
Having the ability to make sure all of your media and equipment is perfect is a huge bonus to working at home. You can have the best chair, the best headphones, the best computer, and the best internet without fear that you will walk in one day and find that someone borrowed it or mistreated it.
For some tips on what you need to equip your home office with, check out these articles: Best Headphones for Your Home Office [link], Best Office Chairs on the Market and Why They Matter [link], How to Build a Computer for Your Home Office [link].
Why Drive when You can Walk?
The first benefit that comes to most of our minds is avoiding the daily commute. Every single hour of commute is a waste of time from a standpoint of pure productivity. There are those workaholics that spend most of their commutes doing work, but their driving is either compromised, or their phone conferences are compromised by the occasional swearing at dangerous drivers.
Eliminating that awful experience would be an immediate boon to any worker. You can get more done, get more sleep, and get more time with the family immediately. Not only that, you save a huge amount of money on gas and car maintenance just by driving less. You may even determine that your household no longer needs a second vehicle, but that is a conversation for another day.
Working from home has the potential to drastically reduce stress. It gives you the chance to be in the most comfortable atmosphere possible. You can make your office decluttered, add relaxing aromas and sounds, and design your office with productivity and stress-reduction in mind. Calming, neutral paint colors like blues and lavenders can have a positive influence. Personally when I really need to get work done, I like to light some vanilla incense, and turn on my desktop fountain. A little trickling water does a lot to calm me and keep me focused.
Family Comes Firs
Whether you have chores or other responsibilities to take care of at home, the efficiency of being able to seamlessly move from work to chores is wonderful. Getting laundry done while working can be very easy, and being around to take the kids to soccer practice is simple. If there are more serious issues such as health concerns for any of the family, you can be around to help them. Whether the kids are home sick from school and you need to be around just in case, or they have more serious issues requiring more dedicated attention, working from home can do a lot to alleviate that stress.
The Secret Life of Your Pet
One wonderful part of being at home while working is the chance to be
around your pets. There is the danger of your pets occasionally
distracting you. After all, what cat owner has not been annoyed by
their cat deciding to take a nap right on their keyboard? However,
every distraction can be matched and exceeded with the infinite joy
and peace from having your loving animal companions around or near
when you need top get stressful work done. There have been hundreds of
studies done on the stress-relief effects of pets, so having a dog
around to pet or talk to now and then could easily make the work day
much easier. Just remember that the fact that you are home more does
not mean that your pet should eat more!
Best Boss, Best EmployeeHaving someone watching your daily progress can be nerve-wracking and lead to less progress ironically enough. Conversely, being able to report how great you have been at the end of the day or week is a great feeling. When you are your own boss, you know the employees at home are treated right! You know that you will work your hardest because you are independent and have no one to blame but yourself.
The Cons of Working from Home
The benefits to working from home are clear, and there may be more besides these for your particular situation. However, there can be drawbacks as well. If you are unprepared for these potential negatives, they can truly ruin the experience. Having a plan in place is key.
Unfortunately, there are many distractions with working from home. This is what your boss may be concerned about if they are hesitant to allow it to begin with. While you have those chores to get done at home, are you really being productive if you are spending more time taking care of your home life than your work life? If you have kids, a noisy home can make working from home very difficult. Nothing is more embarrassing than being on an important conference call and having your kid bust into the room because they want some food, or just want some attention. Knowing how to be loving to your kids while explaining to them that you need to work can be incredibly challenging, but it can certainly be done.
Good headphones and picking the right spot for your office can go a long way in fixing this issue. For more information on decreasing the many distractions in your home, check out this article on How to Set Up Your Home Office when You Have Kids
Having a team environment at work has its boons and banes. Some days, you will be grateful for the emotional or technical support available from your peers. Some days, you will be sick of being the emotional and technical support for those peers. There is quite a bit of “feel-good” energy in working together to get things done and understanding each other’s struggles through the daily work grind. However, there is also quite a bit of distraction in the team environment. After a long week of work, that Friday afternoon can get less and less productive as teambuilding slowly becomes more important than the point of the teambuilding. This is not necessarily bad, but it is difficult to write a progress report on.
If you need that team support, consider some online support forums and social media communities for your particular field. Posting what you got done today and receiving some positive feedback from relative strangers can be very uplifting. Just the same, being honest about your struggles with your work or your work-from-home lifestyle can lead to positive interaction from others. Some of them may have similar struggles to you, and can provide emotional support and possibly some sound advice for how to deal with those difficulties if you are open to it.
Worst Boss, Worst Employee
If you have never been your own boss before, you may be unpleasantly surprised by your new management. When I became a solo real estate agent, I found out that I was a rather unmotivated employee, and an even worse boss! There was no daily agenda, no structure, and no encouragement to do better. If I did not get up in the morning and get started bright and early, who was there to call me out on it? All I had as motivation was my slowly dwindling savings account. Some days, that was enough. Other days, it was just too easy to get distracted and let a few minutes, or a few hours, waste my day away.
If you are considering working from home, be a strict on-site manager, and an obedient employee. Have a plan for what you will get done every day, at every hour of the day, and do it without complaint. Otherwise, working remotely can turn into remotely working.