What are the pros and cons of working from home?

A two-year project to promote telecommuting and other flexible work environments has found substantial benefits from such arrangements. Today’s Question: What are the pros and cons of working from home?

  • http://mpls.cx Corwin

    Pro:

    save money, time and frustration on the commute.

    Cons:

    working though lunch just about every day

  • http://www.evolvingsoul11.com Tracy

    Pros: 1. Time management – I get so much done between 6:00 – 9:00 am. I would have been getting ready and driving during that time before. 2. Quality of life – less stressful which is obviously better overall. Not having to sit in traffic every day, not having to sit in an uncomfortable chair for 8 hours. I have Dystonia – working from home has allowed my body to feel better and heal.

    Cons: I can’t think of any! :-)

  • Alison

    Pros:

    1. Not wasting money and gas

    2. Get more work done faster without distractions

    3. Flexibility with family and appointment times

    4. Don’t have to waste time trying to look busy if there isn’t work. Easier to put in some extra time if the need arises. (If you have a ROWE, rather than just working from home)

    Cons:

    1. More difficult to form and maintain close relationships with co-workers

    2. I spend a fair amount of time informally training and troubleshooting the problems of others. While a lot of that can occur electronically, sometimes the face-to-face, or hands on contact makes it easier to figure out the real source of the problem. It is also easier to get a feel for whether the person is understanding if you can see them.

    I think a flexible blend would work best for my job.

  • http://www.integratedmedia.org Jeannie Ericson

    Like everything else it must be balanced. All the pros listed above are true, but most people (me included) need and thrive on interaction with others. A great deal can be accomplished on the phone and on-line, but often times the efficiency of face to face work outweighs the time saved in avoiding shower and drive time.

    Ideally there is a flexibility to work from home when that is most efficient and go into the office when that makes more sense.

    I have worked in all three scenarios (totally home based, totally office based and balanced). I go crazy home alone, I waste time completely at the office. The balanced approach has been perfect.

  • Bill

    More time with my family instead of my fellow bus riders.

  • Mehgan

    Pros:

    – I get way more work done because of fewer distractions that I normally have when in the office.

    – No time wasted stuck in traffic/commuting and less stress due to this also.

    – Overall better quality of life as I am happier working from home.

    – I can get more daily chores done and the little things that get put off normally due to not enough time in the day. (Example: I have time to take my dog for longer walks or more frequent walks before work, during my lunch break, after work. More time to hit the gym on a daily basis.)

    – More time to spend with my family and I’m already at home should a family emergency arise.

    – I take a lot less PTO/sick days/time off since I can work from home. If one of the kids is sick or there is a school closing, I can still get work done while being at home. If the car is in the shop, I can still work. If I’m not feeling well, I tend to still get work done where as if I had to go to the office, I probably would just call in sick and not do any work.

    – Less need for “mental health” days.

    – I also have the ability to work from anywhere in the country so if I need to leave town I can still take my computer with me and work instead of taking time completely off.

    – Because I really appreciate the fact that my company allows me to work from home, I am less likely to look for a new job even if there are other factors that bother me. I have a lot more loyalty to my company since they offer me this perk.

    Cons:

    – The only one that really affects my team is that some of my coworkers take advantage of working from home and might be signed in to work, but are actually doing other things instead of working which leaves more work for those of us that are actually working.

  • Josh

    There are no cons to working at home!

  • Steve the Cynic

    Some jobs, of course, can’t be done from home– pounding nails, paving roads, changing briefs in a nursing home– you know, real work.

  • KarenIncognito

    Pros:

    – Sunshine, cool breezes and bird watching!

    – Less time and money spent on commuting – and eating out

    – Being able to greet the kids when they get home from school

    – Ability to get to doctor appointments without as much time away from work

    – Potential reimbursement or tax write-off for home office/equipment

    Cons:

    – Isolation from coworkers

    – Getting distracted by household chores (bird watching doesn’t count)

  • Al

    Steve the Cynic – Next time you reach for a prescription pain patch after your injury doing real work or you pull out your rescue inhaler for that asthma attack, you might consider that there are those of us whose ‘real work’ is not pounding nails but keeping you alive and pain free.

  • Paul

    I could work from home and save 100 hours of driving and $200 in gas a year.

    However, my boss is not comfortable when he can’t call me into his office, and I feel like I can’t take care of my projects and protect my interests if I can’t be in the office and have everything I need available to me. For example, the remote computer simulators frequently don’t work right, and in the office I can shmooze people face to face and get them to help me accomplish something.

  • Roberta

    I’ve been working from home for most of the last six years. Currently, I live in St Paul and work as a writer for a company based outside of the Twin Cities. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    Because I work with minimal interruptions I can get more work done in less time. I can’t stress enough how dramatic this is. I visit the company HQ every month and the amount of time I spend sitting at a desk surrounded by people where I can actually be creative is tiny.

    At first I missed interactions with my co-workers, but now, I don’t miss it at all. We’ve set up systems of communication so that everyone involved in a project is connected. Work assignments come in, I speak to anyone I need to get information from and I produce results – often ahead of schedule.

    Pros:

    •I control my day.

    •I don’t dread Mondays.

    •I never watch the clock.

    •I don’t commute.

    •When I’m extra busy, I don’t think twice about working longer hours and when I’m not very busy, I use the time to get other things done.

    •I never use vacation or personal time unless I’m 100% disconnected from work; I don’t need to. I don’t really feel stressed or exhausted and in need of a break.

    •Also, because I work externally, I’m completely outside of office politics.

    Cons

    •I do miss office parties and free bagels, but I survive.

  • Steve the Cynic

    My point exactly, Al. Those, too, are things that can’t be done from home.

  • Al

    Steve, I guess you don’t understand my job as well as you think. My part of getting these drug products to market involves lab work, but it also involves a huge amount of computer work. After I get my solutions made and put on analytical instruments I can control the instruments from anywhere with an internet connection. The majority of my job is using a computer to process the data and writing reports for submission to regulatory agencies. My favorite place to this work: the deck of our treehouse in the backyard at about dawn, before the kids wake up, coffee at my side, and birds singing all around me.

    Do I need to go in to the lab? Definitely. Do I get my computer work done faster in the treehouse? Yep.

  • Philip

    I have a small business on the side that I do out of my home. The biggest problem I have is when my family is home and I’m trying to get work done. There are constant interruptions and everyone has their own priorities, which are usually inconsistent with my work.

  • Cate Ellis

    I’ve been working at home for a health care company for over a year, and it’s wonderful. I get so much more done without the interruptions of being in the office; we save money on gas, clothes, and food; and the time goes by much more quickly at home in comfortable clothes! I like, too, that I can hear what my kids are up to – my husband stays home with out 3 and 1 year old, and I can hear them playing and have lunch with them, so I don’t miss as much as I would if they were in day care – also a big money saver!!

  • Steve the Cynic

    You’re right, Al. I’m not clairvoyant. Don’t get too excited about my rhetorical overstatement.

    Yes, there’s a lot of meaningful work that can get done “from home”– the cottage industries that predominated before the industrial revolution, for instance. You have to decide for yourself if your work is meaningful– if, on balance it actually helps people live better and improves the well-being of humanity, or if it just helps corporate investors and executives extract more profits from the economy.

  • Cate Ellis

    I’ve been working at home for a health care company for over a year, and it’s wonderful. I get so much more done without the interruptions of being in the office; we save money on gas, clothes, and food; and the time goes by much more quickly at home in comfortable clothes! I like, too, that I can hear what my kids are up to – my husband stays home with out 3 and 1 year old, and I can hear them playing and have lunch with them, so I don’t miss as much as I would if they were in day care – also a big money saver!!

  • Steve the Cynic

    You’re right, Al. I’m not clairvoyant. Don’t get too excited about my rhetorical overstatement.

    Yes, there’s a lot of meaningful work that can get done “from home”– the cottage industries that predominated before the industrial revolution, for instance. You have to decide for yourself if your work is meaningful– if, on balance, it actually helps people live better and improves the well-being of humanity, or if it mainly helps corporate investors and executives extract more profits from the economy.

  • Tim in Rochester

    Pros: nice to stay home with sick children or not commute in bad weather.

    Cons: getting work done while surrounded by the many demands of my crazy household.

  • CF

    Pros:

    No micromanaging bosses

    No computers that run slower than a garden snail

    No political correctness rules that change constantly

    No commuting traffic, high gas prices

    Lunch is cheaper than eating out

    No alarm clock(!)

    Listen to what I want on the radio

    Not have to put up with somebody else’s radio

    Be trusted that I can do the work w/o a babysitter

    Cons:

    *Employers who are stuck in a 1950’s mentality who think work can’t get done at home. We must get in our cars one-by-one, drive to the office, pollute the air, burn fossil fuels and work for exactly eight hours a day, five days a week.

    *Employers who are so insecure and fearful, that think employees are a necessary evil, wouldn’t dare let someone work at home.

  • Barb

    Pro:

    -no commute time

    -no time spent getting ready in the morning

    -able to do small household jobs like laundry on my breaks and lunch

    -save money on gas, lunches, work clothes

    -be home when kids get home from school

    -happier and thankful for the opportunity and in turn my production has gone up

    Con:

    -family members often expect more since they assume you are home all day (and forget you are actually working at a job)

  • Charlotte

    Steve:

    “You have to decide for yourself if your work is meaningful– if, on balance it actually helps people live better and improves the well-being of humanity, or if it just helps corporate investors and executives extract more profits from the economy.”

    It seems that you are implying that all work done from home is corporate work. I actually work for an amazing non-profit organization. There is absolutely no doubt that the work that I do “helps people live better and improves the well-being of humanity” and I’m very proud of the contribution I’m making to our society. But guess what? I do much of my work from home. Imagine that. I think you need to consider multiple perspectives and possibilities before you make blanket statements about the kind of work people do if they are working from home.

  • Mary

    I have worked from home for 6 years. I love it! I agree with all the comments that indicate the pros far outweigh the cons. The only cons I have found have been stated by ther others..

    -missing co-workers and being able to keep in touch with them

    -working thorugh lunch most days

  • Steve the Cynic

    I was implying no such thing, Charlotte. Actually, I was drifting off topic. Whether work is meaningful or not is a separate question from whether it’s done at home.

    My original point was that many people who have no choice about working at home (because their work can only be done outside the home) are workers whose jobs involve physical labor (which I snidely referred to as “real work“) as opposed to management and office workers. Kudos to you if your work really is making the world better.

  • Al

    Steve, you can suggest that my work “helps corporate investors and executives extract more profits from the economy.” Maybe it does. But when I can put my daughter to bed without her coughing because her asthma is under control thanks to a product developed by my coworkers I know there is value in what I do.

    Your blanket statements are often amusing, Steve. But when you routinely spout off stuff like that you have to be prepared to be wrong every now and again.

  • Bruce

    Liberation and commitment, it’s all opportunity :)

  • http://rphorrigan@comcast.net Ruth

    I have been trying for a few years convince my employer to allow telecommuting with no luck so far. The savings in time and money would be wonderful. It is nice to have a push to get up and get ready, might be pretty tempting to sit around in PJs all day, on occasion that’s ok but on a regular basis it can leave someone feeling ‘Blah’. If you’re self motivated, though, and don’t mind missing the chatter by the water cooler (pretty sure I’d be fine without it) then telecommuting would be grrrrrrreat! To all of you who already work from home – I’m a little jealous.

  • Steve the Cynic

    I’m very happy for your daughter, Al, and kudos to the folks who developed the meds that work for her. That is indeed meaningful work, in my estimation. I do hope they saw some of the profits that drug has earned the company. Or did a disproportionate amount go to the suits in the corner office, the investors, and the intellectual property lawyers? (But don’t let’s get started on the economic abuses of Big Pharma.)

  • Andreas

    Pros: Short commutes (less than a minute!), afternoon naps.

    Cons: I’m self-employed, so if I call in ‘sick’, the boss knows if I’m lying!

  • Carl

    Pros: less distractions and the freedom to achieve without the petty, energy draining annoyances of micromanaging.

    Cons: missing out on the comradely and synergy of collaboration in a positive workplace environment.