I first started working at home in 1991. There have been times between 1991 and 1999 or so when I also worked at a job site, but probably at least 95% of the time over the past 26 years, I have worked out of a home office.
How many of you work at home, just out of curiosity? Please let me know in the comments, I would appreciate that. If you don’t work at home, but it is something you want to do, please also tell me that!
Overall, I have loved working at home. There are certainly challenges, though. After perhaps 5 years or so, you learn to overcome the challenges and the home office becomes a great solution.
Advantages of working at home
There are both advantages and disadvantages of working at home. Overall, I think that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, though, and I think that working at home is a great solution if it is available to you.
Being around your family
When I first started working at home in 1991, I had been married for less than 2 years, and we had a baby that was a year old. Being around home meant that I could be around my wife and child. Since those early days of working at home, I have had other kids, and it has been great to be able to watch each of them grow up. Being away at a workplace is a thought that is so foreign to me now, I can’t even imagine it.
Now, though, my wife and I have been married for 27 years, and our youngest child is nearly an adult already! At this point, I could probably go back to working at an office and it would not interrupt my family life. I really have no desire to do that, though. Who knows, I may start having some grandchildren coming around the house anytime! 🙂 (hint, hint).
Really, though, I would say that being able to spend time around my family has been one of the greatest advantages to working at home.
Working for myself, and doing it at home has also allowed me the opportunity to be very flexible with my work schedule over the years. If my kids had school events that I wanted to attend, I could generally change my schedule in a way that would make it possible.
Other than directly attending to client needs, I can almost always shift my work hours to whatever time is convenient on that particular day. It is really nice to be able to do that.
If you are self-employed and want to get an office somewhere out of the home, there could be great costs attached. Firstly, you will have to (most likely) rent the office space where you will locate your office. This can be a huge cost. You will also need a lot of things like Phone Lines, Internet, fixtures and furniture for the office. Maybe you will need a secretary or other office help? All of this adds up greatly.
If you are working from home, you might still need some of this, but much less. Certainly, you won’t need to rent space! In fact, you may be able to write off part of your mortgage payment as a home office (I am not a tax attorney, so you need to talk to a professional about this). You can use the same Internet that you already have at home. Perhaps a single phone line can server your home and office, that I sup to you. You can most certainly minimize expenses if you have an office at home, though.
Disadvantages of working at home
Like I said, even though I think that working at home is a great thing and that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, there certainly are disadvantages to consider. What is best for you? Only you can weigh how each point will impact you!
Being around your family
Yes, I know, I said that being around your family is an advantage, but it is also most certainly a disadvantage.
How can that be? Well, because there are a lot of distractions! If you have a baby at home, maybe your spouse will expect you to help with the diaper changing duties! I am not against both parents doing that, but if you are doing your office tasks, an interruption like changing a diaper may take a lot of time from your work. Changing a diaper only takes a couple of minutes, but any time you experience an interruption, it takes time to get back into the flow of work. I doubt that you can be back to work with a focus in less than 30 minutes.
The family most certainly causes a lot of interruptions, but you have to learn how to deal with those interruptions and minimize them!
Again, Flexibility is both an advantage and also a disadvantage. It sounds like flexibility would always be a good thing, but if you think about it you might think otherwise.
Let’s say that you have a project due on Friday. Well, your son has a baseball game tonight, so it is OK, you can still finish your project on time! But then on Wednesday, something else pops up, you have to delay your work again. Things always pop up, you just have to learn how to manage your time wisely, and really do the work that needs to be done so that you don’t end up in a bind.
Separating work life and home life
So, you are working at home. What do you do when that baseball game comes on TV during the midday? How about when your wife is after you to trim the bushes in the front yard? These types of things can create a real problem.
Generally, you need to set work hours and non-work hours. Not only can home tasks get in the way during the time when you should be working but it can also be difficult to keep from “bringing the office home” when your office is just down the hall from your family room or kitchen.
Probably one of the hardest things you can do is keeping work separate from home life. Once you master that, you will be a pro at working from home! It takes time, but you can do it!