Working from home: dream or nightmare?

Working from home can save you money on travel, but are you really cut out for it? Here's how to tell.

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Working from home – it’s a dream for many people, a convenient and regular occurrence for others, and for some an absolute nightmare.

So what is it about working from home that some love but others loathe?

The Pros

Convenience – Firstly, the most positive aspect about working from home is the convenience. Within reason you can plan your day, scheduling in medical or tradespeople appointments, or arrange to taxi children around. 

You’re also able pop back into the office after-hours if you’ve forgotten something or put in a few extra hours without being too inconvenienced.

No commuting – Your ‘working from home’ commute is the distance between the kitchen and your office.  This not only saves you money, but time in not having to travel to work may allow you more sleep, get more work done and have more ‘me’ time.

No office interruptions – That colleague that always stops by your desk for a chat – well they’re not at home!  Those quick chats by the copier or in the tea room can add up over the course of a day and really eat into your work hours, but don’t occur if you’re at home.  You’re also away from the standard office noise of other people’s conversations, phones and general movement.

Casual day, every day – Unless you’re teleconferencing or meeting with clients, there’s no need to ‘dress up’ for work.  You can wear what you like when you’re at home as you write the dress code.


The Cons

Convenience – It’s too easy to pop back into the office.  You may find your work-life balance suffers as it can feel as though you’re never away from work, and if you pop back into the office too often, you may not be.

No commuting – For many people, the commute to and from work is their downtime.  It’s their time to wind down away from work and home responsibilities.  It may be the only time you get to listen to music or read a book.

Out of sight-out of mind – Working away from your colleagues can feel isolating, and you may feel left out of the usual office banter and comradery. It will take more effort to keep professional relationships alive and may see you less likely to be approached to work on last minute projects or even promotions.

Family and friends – For some, knowing you work from home is seen as an open invitation to call or drop by for a visit.  Many find it hard to understand that you are actually ‘working’ and expect you to be available for coffees, lunches etc.

Household distractions – It’s very easy to think you can get household chores done during your work day, but the time you save being way from office distractions can be spent on odd jobs at home, thereby leaving you no better off.  You’ll also be surprised at how many door-to-door sales and telemarketing interruptions there can be.

OH&S – Oh yes, just because you’re ‘out of the office’ doesn’t mean you’re out from under workplace requirements.  The same health and safety requirements your employer must meet in providing an appropriate workplace apply to your home office, and as such your employer may (should), review your space and request adjustments if necessary.

Working from home can be a fantastic option for some.  It does have its downside, but addressing these aspects early and a good dose of self-discipline can see the arrangement work well.

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