Working From Home - Pros and Cons

  | James Innes

With changes in technology and with organisations looking to adopt more cost-effective business models, many companies have begun to allow staff to work from home, eliminating or reducing the need for the traditional bricks and mortar office.

However, whilst the idea of working from home may sound very attractive – no long and tiresome commute, no dress code, no boss constantly looking over your shoulder – there can also be challenges which may not make this the ideal solution for everyone.

One common myth, for example, is that staff working from home spend less time at work and have more free time than their office-bound peers. Research has shown, however, that the opposite is true. Whilst time is saved commuting or attending endless office meetings, home workers paradoxically find it harder to escape the office – because it is always with them. The very advances in technology – internet, email, mobile phones etc. – that make working from home easier, also make it harder to switch off at the end of the day. When there is no physical separation between where you work and where you live, many find the office intrudes into their private lives.

For some, working from home can be a lonely experience. There are no chats with colleagues, no gossip and often little direct interaction with human beings. People can get isolated and lose touch with bosses, managers and colleagues. Scheduling regular virtual meetings is important, not only to make sure you maintain contact with your colleagues, but also so you keep up to date with tasks, projects and company developments. Few of us will ever work without a boss or manager; working from home won’t change this, or the need to keep them up to date with your progress and performance. Just because you don’t see them in the flesh everyday doesn’t mean that you don’t need to regularly keep in touch.

Working from home does require self-discipline. Knowing that you don’t have to be at the office at a set time every day can be a temptation to stay in bed that bit longer in the morning. And work and home life can become intertwined if you do not dedicate a space as your office, preferably with a door that can be shut to avoid interruptions. Family members too may need to be educated that you are, indeed, “working” from home and not on an extended vacation. Above all, though, learn to step away from your desk at the end of the day and leave the emails and paperwork behind – as you would in your old physical office.

As businesses move away from the old bricks and mortar office and leverage technology more, working from home will become an increasing choice for many. Whilst the attractions may seem obvious, the drawbacks should be known in advance, so that you are best prepared to embrace what may become the norm for many in the 21st Century.

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