Working from home can be an appealing career move. It eliminates most of the traditional aspects of going to work, like commuting and dressing in business attire, while reducing social interaction and standard means of accountability. Depending on your preferred work style and culture priorities, it could either be the best thing for you or the worst. So, if you're thinking about a work-at-home job, there are several things to consider before making the transition. In this article, we list the most common pros and cons of working from home to help you determine if this is the right career move for you.
What is a work-from-home job?
A work-from-home job is a job you can perform from home. They often require an internet connection so you can collaborate and network with colleagues and managers. Working from home—or telecommuting—gives employees the flexibility and freedom to perform their work tasks from their home offices.
Some telecommuting employees even travel while they work, as long as there's a reliable internet connection so they can complete their job duties. While working from home can be highly appealing and come with many benefits, there are also potential drawbacks to consider when switching to a work-from-home position.
Related: What Is Telecommuting?
Pros of working from home
If you're looking for a job that allows telecommuting, there are several benefits to consider:
- More independence
- Less expenses
- Increased productivity
- Improved technical skills
- Improved communication skills
- More work flexibility
- No office distractions
- Collaborate across locations
- Build professional networks
- Grants and incentives
- Reduction in work absences
- Increased satisfaction
- Provides more job opportunities
- Provides work-life balance
Read more: Work From Home Jobs That Pay Well
Working from home can provide autonomy and independence in your job that might be absent in a physical workplace. Additionally, these types of roles require self-discipline and motivation enough to manage time responsibly and complete job tasks.
No commute to work
Work-from-home jobs mean you can eliminate your commute. Even if you work from home one or two days during the week, you travel less.
Save on expenses
This benefit can have several far-reaching effects. For instance, when you eliminate commuting, you can reduce your fuel and transportation expenses. Telecommuting can also help you reduce other expenses like work clothing, meals and even childcare. Saving on the costs of childcare can be especially advantageous to parents working from home.
When you work independently in a quieter environment, you may be more productive. Increased productivity relates to several more factors including the ability to move around your home freely and take breaks whenever you feel the need to. Being able to step away from your work when you feel like you need a break can help you stay motivated and reduce burn-out.
Improved technical skills
Telecommuting often requires using technical applications, such as online meeting, communication and team collaboration platforms. You are able to develop technical skills that you may not typically use in a physical workplace.
Improved communication skills
Working from home requires consistent communication between teams and managers, which likely requires more emails, phone calls, video calls and chats in messaging platforms. Regular use of communication tools will improve your skills.
More work flexibility
You have a lot of flexibility with most telecommuting jobs. For instance, many work-from-home positions are unaffected by normal business hours, making it easier to attend to life events like medical appointments. Work-from-home roles can be a huge benefit for parents who work unconventional schedules to accommodate their families.
Related: 11 Online Jobs for Work Flexibility
No office distractions
You have no office distractions when you work from home. Office noise like coworkers talking, office equipment running or phones ringing can be highly distracting in a work environment. A home office doesn't have these same distractions.
Collaborate across locations
Telecommuting can be an advantage to multi-divisional companies that have office locations around the world. The ability to communicate with professionals in diverse areas can open additional paths for business development. This can be beneficial to your career as you can work with a variety of industry professionals that you can learn from.
Build professional networks
Being able to work with a diverse range of people can result in adding to your professional network. You can develop professional relationships through networking that can lead to future advancement opportunities.
Grants and incentives
Depending on the industry you work in and where you live, you may be eligible for various grants or telecommuting incentives. Some states have remote worker incentive programs that offer monetary allowances in order to motivate workers to relocate to those areas. Consider available grants for remote workers to help you pay for your home office setup.
Reduction in work absences
Since working from home offers flexibility, it can also reduce work absences. Whether you're sick or have to schedule an important appointment, working from home can reduce how often you need to take a day off.
Employee satisfaction in remote positions may be higher because of the flexibility in performing their jobs. Not only are you able to make decisions independently, you're also able to work comfortably without the worry of office-related stress, interruptions or other challenges you might find in a traditional workplace. This can have a direct influence on your overall job satisfaction.
Provides more job opportunities
Remote positions can open up additional job opportunities for individuals with limitations to working in traditional roles. For instance, people with disabilities that prevent them from traveling or working long hours can build their careers remotely. The ability to work from anywhere can also mean an increase in available jobs in industries like technology, healthcare and education.
Provides work-life balance
In many cases, working from home can help you foster your work-life balance by allowing you to schedule your work around your personal life. Working remotely can afford you more time in your home to take care of essential tasks that benefit your lifestyle.
Learn more: The Ultimate Guide to Work-Life Balance
Cons of working from home
In addition to its benefits, working from home can come with several drawbacks including:
- Increased isolation
- Home office costs
- Risk of overworking
- Risk to productivity
- Distractions at home
- Workplace disconnect
- Disproportionate work-life balance
- Less face time
You can become quite isolated working from home if you spend the majority of your time by yourself, working independently. The key to avoiding loneliness and isolation as a remote worker is to schedule outings and events with friends and family. Some remote workplaces offer regular team events to encourage socialization.
Home office costs
Some remote positions require specific equipment like headsets, webcams or software to perform essential tasks and projects. If you want to set up a desk, chair and other furniture, you can expect to cover some initial costs to get your home office organized. Keep your costs low by spending only what you need to perform your job.
Risk of overworking
Telecommuting also comes with the risk of working longer than you should. This can definitely lead to burn-out and increased work-related stress. You can avoid this by clearly defining your schedule and allocating specific times for your job tasks and personal tasks. For some people, it's important to have a designated workspace that you can leave when the workday is over.
Risk to productivity
Although working from home can help increase your productivity, it can also be a challenge to it. With the freedom to move around and take breaks whenever the mood arises, it might be difficult to stay focused on the tasks you're working on. This can ultimately lead to slower productivity. One way to combat this is to implement productivity tools like time trackers and task management applications.
Learn more: How to Stay Focused When You Work From Home
Distractions at home
Distractions like the television, pets or household chores can affect how you perform your job. Too many distractions can lead to a decrease in your productivity and motivation. You can avoid this by limiting anything that you find distracting in your home. Use noise-canceling headphones and play relaxing music to block out noises like traffic and neighborhood activity.
Telecommuting can sometimes lead to a disconnect between you and your coworkers. Working from home means you won't have access to immediate information about important business processes until someone in the company communicates it to you. Make sure to stay connected with your physical workplace through constant communication whenever you have questions or concerns.
Disproportionate work-life balance
Although working from home can offer you the opportunity to balance your home life with your job, it can also be challenging to create a distinct separation between your career and personal life. Set clear boundaries between your work hours and personal time, and communicate these boundaries with others in your home.
Less face time
With isolation and workplace disconnect comes less face time. Working remotely, you won't have the same opportunities to speak face-to-face with coworkers and the community unless you get out and about. You can also integrate more face-to-face interactions within online conference platforms to engage with coworkers.