Pros and Cons of Working from Home

by Clare Ivatt

26th November 2020

If you’re offered the opportunity to work remotely or telecommute, it’s worth considering the advantages and disadvantages of working from home before you commit to it.

I’ve worked from home for more than 20 years, and I love it. However, it’s not for everyone, so here are some of the things to consider, to help you decide.

I’ve started with the Cons: These are some of the drawbacks to working from home, which can make it sound like a terrible idea, but don’t worry, there are lots of nice benefits in the Pros section!

Con: Work is Always There

This is one of the most common complaints about working from home – you can never get away from your work!  

It’s so easy to be “called back” to your desk or office if the telephone rings. Also you can always nip back to work after dinner to finish off what you were working on earlier.

Open silver laptop on out door table, with black mobile phone next to it. The laptop screen is covered with assorted post-it notes.
Pixabay / Gerd Altmann

To stop the telephone calling you back after the end of your working day, either turn the ringer down on your phone or put the answerphone on and make a point of not answering after working hours. 

To stop work calling you back later in the evening, make a point of “finishing the day”.  At the end of the day you could tick off all the things you have achieved today on your to-do list, and then create a new list for tomorrow with tomorrow’s date!

Con: It's Easy to Slack Off

Small alarm clock with old fashioned bells in the foreground, and blurred image of woman asleep in bed in the background.
Pixabay / Tumisu

When you’re working from home alone, it’s up to you to make sure you get the work done. It can be difficult without the team spirit you would find in an office.

However, you can use social media, chat or video calls to stay in contact with the rest of your team.

If you’re working on your own, it can be helpful to make friends with like-minded people through chat or social media groups (e.g. Facebook Groups) to talk about the everyday ups and downs of working from home.

I love talking to other entrepreneurs on Facebook, and seeing how they approach the same problems that I have.

Con: You Can Be Overlooked

If you’re telecommuting for a big company, it’s easy to find yourself overlooked by your boss or the rest of your team – especially if most of the others are in the office.

You have to make an extra effort to make sure that people know what you’re working on and what you have achieved.

You may need to remind the rest of the office that you are there – video chat is a good way to talk to everyone.

Two laptops and two mobile phones on the same desk. One laptop has an online meeting on the screen with 12 different people in small screens.
Pixabay / Lynette Coulston

Con: Need Privacy From Rest of House

If you live in a busy house with lots of people or children it can be difficult to get enough privacy for working from home.

White Do Not Disturb sign with black border hanging from black cord
Pixabay / Koala Park Laundromat

If other people are at home during the day too, you will need a place where you can isolate yourself from the rest of the house.

Ideally you should work in a room where you can close the door to show everyone when you are working and not to be disturbed.

Failing that, perhaps a “Do Not Disturb” sign that you can put up on your desk would stop people interrupting you when you’re working.

Con: Phone Keeps Ringing

When you’re working from home, you’ll be very surprised by the number of unsolicited phone calls (spam calls) that you receive. It can be very disturbing and annoying to have the phone ringing all day for calls that are not relevant or wanted.

I get around this by using the answerphone to filter out unwanted calls.

I don’t answer the phone when it rings but let it go to answerphone, even if I’m there. I listen to the message being left by the caller and I can pick up the phone mid-message if I want to speak to them.

Red telephone keypad in top left with handset and curly wire across bottom of photo
Unsplash / Miryam Leon

Another solution is to register your phone number with your phone company as someone who doesn’t wish to receive spam calls – e.g. the Telephone Preference Service (in the UK) or the Do Not Call List (in the USA).

Con: It Can Be Lonely

If you’re used to seeing dozens of people in the office each day, working from home can come as a bit of a shock.

Having no one to chat with at the coffee machine can make the day seem very long.

Closeup of black mobile phone with social media apps showing on screen
Unsplash / Dole777

I find that social media (when used sparingly!) can help to alleviate this problem.

You can join online chat groups for people who are in a similar situation, and chat through any problems or have a good laugh with your online friends.

Check out our article 7 Ways to Stop Wasting Time on Social Media to make sure it doesn’t hurt your productivity.

Here are the advantages of working from home – the reasons why it’s such a good idea!

Pro: Work Your Own Hours

One of the best things about working from home is that you can choose the hours that you want to work!

If you’re an early bird, you can do your work early on, with lots of time later in the day for your leisure activities.

If you’re a night owl you can start later in the day, and work into the wee small hours if that suits you!

Closeup of owl's head with bright yellow eyes and tufty ears.
Unsplash / Luis Argaiz

I tend to work fairly standard hours so that I can spend time with our daughter in the evening when she comes home from school, but it’s always good to be able to change my working hours if I want to.

Pro: Design Your Own Workspace

It’s up to you where in your home you choose to work. If you’re lucky enough to have a spare room to devote to an office that’s great. It means you can choose your own special furniture and decor for your working space.

If you don’t have a dedicated room for your office, you can allocate a space to devote to your work. It might be the corner of the dining room, or your bedroom perhaps.

In an ideal world, I wouldn’t create a workspace in my bedroom, as I would rather have that as a room to relax in, but if you have limited space you have to make the most of what you’ve got.

Woman sitting using laptop at dining room table at home.
Pixabay / Vinzent Weinbeer

Somewhere that you can close the door and create a private working space away from everyone else in the house is best, preferably in a room that isn’t used for most of the day – the dining room perhaps?

Wherever you choose, you can always decorate your working space how you like – pictures of your family or favourite hobby above your desk and cute toys or pot plants on your desk even if you don’t have a whole room devoted to your office.

Check out my article 32 Inspirational Home Office Ideas to spark some ideas for your own workspace.

Pro: No Commuting

This is one of the very best advantages of working from home. You can save both time and money (and stress!) as you no longer need to do the morning and evening commute.

Large traffic jam in town centre, with 4 lanes of stationary traffic.
Pixabay / Quinn Kampschroer

If you normally drive to the office, you’ll save wear and tear on your car, and won’t need to buy so much fuel.

You might even be able to reduce your car insurance policy if it currently has cover for your drive to the office (or business use). Just check with your insurance broker.

If you normally catch the bus or train, it’s a great feeling to know that you don’t need to wait in the cold or rain every day, and can just get straight down to work without leaving your house in the morning. Also, think of the savings you’ll make by not buying a season ticket.

I really love the fact that you save so much time avoiding the commute. When I started to work from home, I swapped an hour’s train and tube ride into Central London for a one minute walk from the kitchen to the office! Bliss! Two extra hours to spend at home with the family every day.

Pro: Save Money

There are many ways that working from home will save you money:

  • No bus or train tickets to buy
  • Cheaper lunches and snacks
  • Less car maintenance and fuel
  • Not having to buy posh “office clothes”
Train ticket for London Transport - day travel card.
Pixabay / Ron Porter

I realised that when I started working from home I could save a lot of money by not buying work suits any more.

People often say that they work from home in their pyjamas, but I find that doesn’t work for me. I like to feel reasonably smart and ready for work, even at home. It focuses my mind.

If I’m wearing a tracksuit I feel like I should be exercising, and if I’m wearing pyjamas I feel like I should be sleeping!

Staying reasonably smart also means that if an unexpected Zoom call crops up, I am ready to face the world without having to get changed.

Screenshot of a Zoom call. Smart woman in left window laughing, and man in right window smiling. Icons at bottom of screen

I still need to buy smart casual clothes (which I would be buying anyway), but they are nothing like as expensive as work suits.

Pro: Work With Your Pets

When you work from home, you can work with your pets at your side, keeping them company all day long. It’s also less stressful for you to have pets around when you’re working from home.

I love being at home with our two dogs Oscar and Gunner.

Two dogs in the same blue and red dog bed. One is German Shepherd puppy and the other is adult Golden Retriever / Labrador cross

They sit companionably on their beds in the office whilst I’m working, and they make sure that I get enough exercise every day by wanting to go for walks or play games in breaks and at lunchtime.

Pro: Save The Planet

You can even feel virtuous by working from home – you’re helping to save the planet!

By using your car less, you’re helping to reduce air pollution, and reducing your carbon footprint.

Planet Earth pictured from space, with the sun just rising on the right hand side of the planet.
Pixabay / Colin Behrens

I hope these advantages and disadvantages of working from home have helped you to decide if it’s for you. I absolutely love the freedom I get by working at home with my family and pets close by, but you may prefer the social aspect of working in an office.

If you can think of any other pros and cons of working from home, please let me know in the comments below.

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