I have worked from home for a little over twelve years. When I tell people this, I get a variety of responses, but the general consensus is that it must be nice. I’m going to be honest, it is pretty awesome. Not having to drive in inclement weather, not having to put on makeup, and being able to put a load of laundry in the washing machine are just some of the perks that come along with telecommuting, but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows here at the home office. Despite what you make think, working from home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
I know there are people who have to work outside in the beating sun and the blistering cold and those people may be showing me a particular digit as they’re reading this, but I didn’t get here right away. I made my bones in the company where I was working before I was given the option to work from home. To be quite honest, I was forced out of the workplace as we expanded. My desk was occupied by someone else, and then my office became a file room, and there was nowhere else to put me, so they moved me home.
The Negative Aspect
I wish I could tell people that working from home is everything they think it is. It’s a cool option to work from my bed if I want to, or to amble sleepily to my office if that is where I wanted to work, but like I said before, it’s not what you think. Here are some of the negative aspects that may surprise people who long to work from home.
When you work from home and you don’t feel good, your boss can still request that you just “get some work done”. A year ago, I woke up completely unable to walk due to six herniated discs in my spine. They were pressing on my sciatic nerve and rendered my right leg useless. At the time, I was working for three different places. My main job from whom I retain my health insurance was fine with my taking the day off, as was my second job, but the boss at my third job continued to email me consistently asking for me to perform some mundane task or another. When I was on a stretcher in the emergency room, this boss was asking me if I could email a client. So, that’s one of the downsides. You don’t really get sick time anymore.
Traditional employment practices dictate that you do your job while you’re at work, but at the end of the night you’re able to leave all of your work on your desk and go home. When you work from home, your desk follows you. I’ve gotten calls from clients at nine o’clock at night asking me to go over something or another with them. I’ve had to call fellow employees when we’ve closed our facility due to snow. When you work from inside your home, you don’t ever get to walk away and leave work at the office. It’s always with you.
Don’t get me wrong, working from home is absolutely fantastic and I don’t know what I’ll do if I ever have to go back to a traditional office environment. I’m much more productive in my home office and I like the company. My dog doesn’t talk behind my back or make demands that I pay his student loan payment (yes, this has happened). Everything at home is a lot easier and it smells good, but before you go running out to ask your boss about telecommuting think about it first.
Working from home can make the social aspect of your work a bit more difficult. There isn’t a lot of social interaction with your co-workers when you’re at home all day and you may feel as though you’re missing out. Before you step into a job where telecommuting is a possibility, make sure that the workplace has good online culture so that you are able to better stay connected to your co-workers.
Other than these obvious downsides, working from home is what you make of it and it can be an awesome ride, so enjoy it.