Remote Work

Why Working From Home Is Good

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 9 minute read

Working from home can seem like a dream if you have a long commute or a hectic schedule. You will no longer have to worry about gas prices or getting stuck in traffic. Not having to commute to work also frees up time that may be spent doing things like relaxing with loved ones, preparing extravagant meals, or learning a new skill. When you work from home, you avoid being around ill people and spreading germs.

Though many people would want to be able to do their jobs in the comfort of their own homes, this isn’t the case for everyone. Take some time to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of working from home before requesting a telecommuting arrangement with your employer. To really grasp what it’s like to be a telecommuter, it’s important to distinguish between reality and popular misconceptions.

Common Myths About Remote Work

It’s a common misconception that working remotely means you can lounge around your house all day in your pajamas, only getting up to take a call or type a memo. But the reality of telecommuting is very different. There are many misconceptions regarding remote work that need to be dispelled before we can discuss its benefits and drawbacks.

Myth #1: You Are Able to Work Remotely and Care for Your Children.

It’s challenging to juggle taking care of kids and getting things done. While many would like their children to be at school, others would prefer their new mothers to stay at home and work. If the kids are home during the day, someone needs to be responsible for them, and it probably can’t be the parent who’s also attempting to work a full day.

So, explain your strategy for juggling job and childcare responsibilities while working from home. Hiring a nanny or babysitter is a common practice, similar to what people did when they went back to work outside the home. However, when faced with extreme conditions, such as a blizzard or the necessity to socially isolate yourself because of a contagious disease, you must be resourceful.

One youngster, or even more than one, depending on their age, can serve as the babysitter. The alternative is to arrange your job hours so that they fit in with your children’s activities. That can include working late at night after they’ve gone to bed or through their nap times. 

Some firms are willing to be more accommodating than usual and allow employees to work from home when extraordinary circumstances arise.

If you and your co-parent are working together to raise your children, the two of you can 

devise a system that ensures your children are safe and well-supervised while you get things done. One parent may work while the other takes care of the kids for a set amount of time each day and vice versa.

Myth #2: You Do Not Actually “Work” at Home

It’s a running joke that working from home refers to doing things like cleaning and errands rather than actual work. Although it is true that home workers can multitask by doing things like folding clothes in between emails, working from home does not entail lounging around all day.

Home-based workers are more productive than their in-office counterparts. The productivity of workers in a call center for a Chinese travel agency increased by 13%, according to research published in 2015 by Stanford University. Teleworkers were more productive than their office-based counterparts in terms of both call volume and time spent on the clock.

Myth #3: You Can Work From Your Couch or in Your Pajamas

When you work from home, if you don’t have any video calls or meetings, you can technically spend the entire day in your pajamas. And your sofa is the perfect place to conduct business. 

However, as someone who has been self-employed for almost a decade without leaving home, I can tell you from experience; Maybe that’s not something you want to do.

Consider the days when you stayed in your jammies all day. Either you’re feeling under the weather and need to stay home to rest, or you’ve had a long day and want to kick back with some music. While sick at home, the last thing you feel like doing is worrying about work. When you finally have some downtime, the last thing you want to do is work.

Thus, most people will not benefit from waking up every day and working while still in their jammies. You don’t have to dress like you’re going to the office while you’re working from home, but it’s still a good idea to wear similar clothes.

It’s important to pick a spot in your house that actually seems like a workplace while you’re putting in work hours. It can be difficult to get any real work done if you are accustomed to relaxing on the couch while watching television. Similarly, working from home is not ideal (plus dragging your laptop into your bed is terrible for your sleep hygiene).

Which locations are viable for work depends on the equipment you require. Give yourself a dedicated desk if you need to use a large monitor or other complex equipment, ideally in a room with a lockable door to prevent your children from wandering in while you’re in the middle of an important call or interview.

Myth #4: Everything Goes When Working from Home.

The idea that one has complete freedom of schedule and location when working from home is false. When you’re at home, you can organize your time as you see fit. However, most employers count on their employees to be available during normal business hours. If you and your coworkers are on the same schedule, you can simply get in touch with one another if any issues arise when you are both at work.

Myth #5: My Boss Won’t Ever Allow Me to Work from Home

The majority of workers believe their bosses will never be open to them working remotely because they believe their position demands them to be physically present. In fact, the inverse is true. 

In the 2019 Buffer poll on the state of remote work, more than nine in ten business owners stated their commitment to remote workers. Therefore, it is to your advantage to ask your manager whether you can work from home.

The willingness of a company to allow employees to work from home increases significantly during times of emergency. Lots of businesses are willing to let workers stay home if doing so will ensure the health and safety of their staff.

Pros of Working at Home

A company’s willingness to allow you to work from home, whether on a regular basis or for a temporary project, usually comes with a number of advantages.

1. Minimal Contact with Sick People

All of us have had to work in close quarters with a coworker who probably should have called in sick. Maybe at one time or another, you were that annoying coworker. 

The safest option is to have employees work from home, while it is possible to reduce the spread of germs by constantly using hand sanitizers or washing hands and by cleaning and disinfecting any surfaces that your sick coworker may have touched.

When you work from home, you avoid being around sick coworkers who could be carrying the common cold, the flu, or even a pandemic illness. 

Also, you won’t have to come into contact with as many individuals who might be sick, like those on public transportation or the barista at your neighborhood coffee shop. Staying at home decreases the likelihood that you may infect others if you are sick or feel you may be sick.

2. No Commute

According to an examination of U.S. Census statistics from 2012 to 2016, the typical job commuter spends 52 minutes each day in their car. It’s true that people’s commute times can be even lengthier in other parts of the United States. 

Similar Census data shows that people in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, have the longest average commute time, clocking in at about 40 minutes each way. People in the New York City metropolitan area have it just as bad, spending roughly 37 minutes commuting to work.

The time spent getting to and from work in a car adds up. The typical worker spends more than half of their workweek in their car. A home office eliminates the need for daily commutes. You not only get back a significant portion of your workweek, but you also save money on transportation costs like gas, tolls, and vehicle wear and tear.

3. Productivity Growth

At home, you can get work done without interruptions from coworkers like Joan from accounting and Joe from marketing, who might otherwise regale you with tales of their children’s latest school play. This means that many people prefer to work from home since they are able to get more done than they would at the office.

Those who work from home are more likely to get things done because they don’t have to interrupt their workday to attend meetings. The Stanford study also discovered that participants were more productive when working from home since they took fewer breaks.

Cons of Working at Home

It’s not all sunshine and flowers when you get to work from home. Working from home has a number of drawbacks that should be taken into account. It is possible to overcome all of them. Before you make the decision to work from home, it’s a good idea to establish a strategy for how you’ll handle these situations. 

Keep on if you run into problems while working remotely. Also, there are techniques to avoid them.

1. A Trustworthy High-Speed Internet Connection

Most jobs that you can do from home will necessitate that you have access to fast Internet. Accessing the internet is crucial for day-to-day tasks like video conferencing, emailing, and communicating with coworkers.

As of February 2019, 74% of U.S. adults had home broadband, according to data from the Pew Research Center. Unexpected outages are common, and when they occur, many ISPs prioritize their more expensive corporate Internet plans over residential ones until the issue is fixed.

Those are the most infuriating times to be working on a deadline. If your primary Internet connection at home were to suddenly go down, having a secondary connection ready would be a huge help. 

If your smartphone has unlimited bandwidth, you might be able to use it as a hotspot in the event that your home network goes down. Make sure you charge your phone every night. Using it as a hotspot can quickly drain the battery.

2. You Might Experience Isolation From Your Colleagues

It’s nice to establish a relationship with the individuals you work with, even if Joan from accounting’s stories might be distracting or annoying at times. Having company as you go about your day is a pleasant perk as well. 

You can’t have water cooler conversations with your dogs if you work from home. It’s natural to feel isolated at first, especially if you’re just starting out. Timely check-ins with your team can help you overcome this chasm. 

At the very least once a week, it’s a good idea to have a 15-minute phone or video chat with your coworkers, just to check in and see what everyone’s been up to. One other option is to incorporate the check-in into an already video conference or meeting.

3. You Could Keep Watching the Clock

The potential for overwork is the primary disadvantage of working from home. When your business is also your home, it can be tough to turn off your work mind at the end of the day. Emails might be a distraction that causes you to check them when you’d rather be sleeping or spending time with your family.

Avoid falling into that trap by setting firm limits early on, for yourself and your coworkers. Specify a time range, such as Monday through Friday, between which you can be reached. If you have trouble turning off your work mind at the end of the day, try locking yourself in your home office or a closet and forbidding yourself to use any work-related devices after you’ve signed off for the day.

Bottom Line

Working from home or remotely can be an adjustment if you’re used to going into an office every day. Things might get complicated when you’re not sure how long you’ll be working from home or if you’ll be able to make the transition permanent.

As you make the transition, you may find it helpful to develop a plan and set off a certain area of your home for your job. It’s equally important to establish work/life boundaries with yourself, your loved ones, and your boss so that everyone is on the same page. You might even decide you want to do it full-time after realizing how much you enjoy it.

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