Working from Home: Is It Rewarding or Restricting?
Imagine that your employer gives you the choice between working from home or commuting to the office throughout your work week. You might think the obvious choice is to work from the comfort of your own home; after all, staying in your pajamas all day and avoiding stressful commutes sound appealing. But there are some considerations to think about before you decide that telecommuting is right for you.
Weigh the potential rewards...
Working from home could end up saving you a considerable amount of money. It eliminates the cost of commuting by cutting down what you spend on gas, public transportation, parking fees, and car maintenance. And depending on your company's dress code, you could save what you might spend on expensive work-related clothes.
Besides reducing some of your daily expenses, working from home could provide more opportunities and increased productivity. Telecommuting might mean you are no longer tied to a single location, which could allow you to explore more flexible work opportunities within the company. Working from home may also motivate you to use your time more effectively and accomplish more for your company because you'll save time commuting.
Balancing work and family life could be easier when you work from home, as well. Time that you might spend traveling to work, appointments, and family obligations will be saved when you no longer have to schedule around a daily drive to and from the office. Depending on your company's flexibility and the demands of your job, working from home may even eliminate or reduce child-care needs for your children, giving you more time to spend with your loved ones in addition to saving you money.
It's possible that you could be healthier by working from home. Your exposure to co-workers who come to work with a cold or the flu is reduced, which prevents you from having to take a sick day to visit your doctor. You may also wind up feeling less stressed when you don't have to worry about commuting or potential work-life issues.
...against the potential restrictions
Before you get too excited about the appeal of working from home, consider the drawbacks. For instance, telecommuting could affect your work performance. Isolation from the office may result in your professional achievements being overlooked, which could potentially delay a promotion or raise. Less opportunity to interact regularly with co-workers might mean missing out on important information or a sense of loneliness. Plus, distractions around your home can interfere with your daily responsibilities and could result in a negative response from your employer.
Another financial downside of working from home is the prospect of providing your own office materials. Does your company provide you with supplies and equipment, such as a computer, printer, and fax machine? Will you need to pay for office setup, postage services, scanners, and high-speed Internet, among other items?
Think about how your increased presence at home may result in higher home utility usage. Specifically, you'll probably spend much of your time using energy-consuming technology to perform your job. In turn, this could cause your gas and electric bill to spike. Practicing energy efficiency may help reduce the bill, but you still might have to pay more than you'd like each month as the cost of working from home.
Additional points to consider
If your employer allows you to work from home, think about a few other things besides how it would affect your wallet.
- Consider whether your home has appropriate space to accommodate a home office
- Understand that you may need to seek remote tech support occasionally to perform your job
- Think about whether you're self-directed and able to work well independently in a home setting
- Set expectations for yourself
- Become familiar with any company policies that may apply to remote employees
It's possible that you can strike a balance and choose to work from home one or two days a week, thereby reaping more of the telecommuting positives than negatives. You could also ask to undergo a trial period to make sure that working from home is truly what works best for both you and your employer.