Pros and Cons of Working From Home

July 25, 2018  • 

I’ve been working mostly remotely since June 2016.

Initially I had a job where about 98% of my time was remote. It was a lonely existence, even after we got a puppy. Spoiler: I only lasted 6 months.

With living in Brighton (a bit away from the larger tech scene in London), having a dog, and generally enjoying working from home, I decided I needed a bit of a compromise and went for a role where I could spend 2 days a week at the office in London, thus fulfilling my need for collaboration and human interaction, and I spend 3 days working on my own, allowing for focus and avoidance of commuter burn out.

Still, there are pros and cons to every remote working situation. And here are mine.

A pile of books on a blanket on the floor. The top book is Little Black Book: a Toolkit for Working Women.

Pros of working from home

Comfy clothes

Okay, it’s true. On the days I am working from home , I really only need to be presentable from the waist up. I very rarely need to be on any kind of video chat, so this is more of a safety net if someone does need to see my face for what ever reason. But it rarely comes up.

Plus I can rely on my not-the-best Internet connection to only send a low-quality image of myself to the poor person on the other end. It’s like my own personal Instagram filter.

I definitely go through phases where I follow the rule you see in so many work from home guides: dress as if you’re going to the office in order to trick your brain into productivity. This can definitely help when I’m in a bit of a remote work slump, but it’s also nice to chuck on leggings and a t-shirt and get stuff done.

Short commutes

I’m supposed to maintain office hours, meaning I’m at my desk between 9 and 6 for the most part. I do miss a daily trip to Starbucks and the walk to the office that can be instrumental to feeling energised for the day. But it’s hard to complain when I can be from my bed to my desk in a couple of minutes, especially with the state of the trains these days. On my London office days my commute home can sometimes take over 3 hours.

Complete control over the office playlist

By this, of course, I mean SING-A-LONGS. I can listen to what I want, as loud as I want, and I can belt out every word as if I actually am Beyoncé. It might be a tad irritating for my girlfriend, dog and neighbours, but I need it to get my creativity flowing sometimes.

No buying lunches

I am the actual worst when it comes to trying to pack a lunch. There are London office days when I definitely spend over £5 per day, which is a massive expense! Working at home can bring that cost closer to £5/week as there are 1) more options that we just have already in stock and 2) fewer temptations from London food stalls and restaurants.

I’m partial to a peanut butter and jam sandwich, but of course, I also have the option of more decadent fare, such as pasta. The best days are when Katy makes sandwiches though. I don’t know how she does it, but she is a sandwich queen.

Easy access to unlimited tea and snacks

Of course, in addition to saving money buying lunches, I also have snacks at the ready when needed. No more mid-afternoon hangry rampages for me, as I am always within range of food. Of course, this means fewer chocolate bars scoffed down after a quick sprint to the newsagent. But, naturally, there are cons to this as well. We’ll get to that.

A sense of accomplishment and independence

There’s something about working at home that makes you feel all hashtag boss lady. Although I am not self employed, working remotely automatically entails a lot more independence and responsibility. I have to get my stuff done without the looming threat of a boss walking by and seeing my Facebook chat tab blinking with new messages. I really and truly need to manage my time. Of course, with this, I’ve also been given a lot more control over my work and my projects feel like they really are mine. There’s so much less “design by committee” when the committee can’t be in the same room.

Working from home gives you a chance to really “own” your work. There’s nothing better than knowing you completed your checklist at the end of the day when you could have accidentally fallen into a void of Wikipedia articles. Speaking of which, have you ever read the article on sexually active popes?

Cons of working from home

Trying to stay motivated

As much as I can wax poetic about the sense of worth and accomplishment that comes from managing your own time and getting sh*t done, there are days when it’s hard. There are days when it’s sunny and warm and you know nobody would really know if you popped out to the beach for a bit. There are days when your dog has kept you awake all night and you would kill for a late afternoon nap. And there are days when there’s no way in hell I want to design a single damn thing unless my boss is breathing down my neck and holding a gun to my head. (A Nerf gun, obviously.)

When these things happen, it can be tempting to pack it in. But you can’t. You have an obligation to treat your job like your regular office job. And it’s a slippery slope. Working from home needs routine. Change from that routine and the next thing you know you’ve missed all your deadlines.

A lot of alone time

I am a very social person, and that is one of the reasons I never thought remote work would be for me. I’m the type who likes office banter and just being around humans in general. Now, I spend a lot of time alone. Obviously, I work all day. Katy is around in spurts, but I can’t socialize too much with her anyway. In eliminating my lunches out and commute, I also spend most of my day in my flat. Going out takes a conscious effort. As does speaking to people.

It can be tricky. Having our dog, Poppy, is a big help. Even having her sleeping at my feet makes me feel a lot less lonely. Obviously I am not saying “if you work from home, you should make a 12+ year commitment to owning a living animal!” But I am saying that you will need to work a lot harder to not become a recluse!

Too much unlimited tea and snacks

Ah, the double-edged sword. Yes, there are tea and snacks always at the ready, but there are also tea and snacks always at the ready. Which means I could, essentially, sit at my desk all day munching away on the entire contents of my cupboards. Combine this with the fact that I have no commute, which means no forced exercise, I could become quite unhealthy.

So, I have to watch pretty closely and be sure that I am limiting snacks and finding more ways to move around during the day. To be honest, I’m not always great with this, even 2 years later, which has left me sluggish both physically and mentally.

Do you or have you ever worked from home? What are your pros and cons? If you were given the opportunity to work remotely or become self employed would you take it?

A pile of books on a blanket on the floor. The top book is Little Black Book: a Toolkit for Working Women.

Thank you for reading!

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