What is your initial thought when someone tells you they work from home? Is it “That’s awesome!” or is it more “Oh…”? Working from home isn’t for everyone and many careers out there, it’s not even an option. For some positions, working from home is an option given by employers, or in my case, it’s the default option by my employer. Most people I talk to about working from home think it’s cool. While I agree, that working from home allows me to be the Dad I need to be, it comes with pitfalls that can be too much for many, and just perfect for those few.
My never-changing number one benefit to working from home is flexibility. As a single Dad, working from home gives me the flexibility I need to have a sick child home, pick up the kids from work, or during the summer, still have a functional house. Now, before you jump up and down and consider getting a remote job, consider that not all situations allow this same type of functionality. If I worked in the technical support department of my company, I’d still have flexibility, but it’d be much less. This also takes no account for those who run their own business as a reason why they work from home. That would be the ultimate flexibility as it’s only you who can hold yourself accountable. Flexibility is the reason I remain with my position despite having some options to move around in recent years.
2. Improved Communication Skills
When you work from home, you don’t get the option to walk over to co-workers and talk with them about something. Everything is digital. This can make it hard to convey what you are trying to say because your co-workers can’t see your tone. It will be a learning curve when starting, but eventually, you’ll find yourself the master of digital communication, both business and casual.
3. Increased Productivity
When you don’t have to travel through the snow storm, to sit at a desk and listen to Nancy talk about her broken love life from a desk over, you tend to do more work. At first, I didn’t think that was going to be the case. “How could I be more productive when working from home? So many temptations like watching TV during work.” I said to myself. You’ll be amazed at how much harder you work when you get to work from home. It does take discipline to stay on task, but just the flexibility to work from home will increase your production. You also don’t have to worry about co-workers stopping by your workstation to distract you.
4. No Dress Code
That’s right! It’s casual Friday every day! Seriously, you can be as comfy as you want. Now, I caution you to not work in PJs all day (I’ve done it) because it’s a bit demoralizing after a while. Wear jeans and a t-shirt; it’s all right!
If you know a thing or two about me, it’s that music has an enormous influence on my life. I can’t go a day without it. Well, when working from home, you don’t have to consider others when playing music. If I want to get into a classic rock groove or go back to some 90’s country, it’s all fine.
1. Feeling Out of the Loop
Working at home, if working for another company and not for yourself, can often leave you feeling out of the loop. I remember when I first began this position, and I had some flexibility to go to the office, I would go on the day the management meeting was happening. My manager would let me sit in and absorb the content. It was great. Now that we’ve gotten larger, that’s not acceptable, but in addition to that, I don’t have the flexibility to go to the office most days. Often, I think about how involved I felt, just knowing some additional stuff. Products coming out at the end of the year, plans for around the corner. That kind of thing.
Working from home means being disciplined in not having direct supervision. This means it’s easy to lose focus and get side-tracked on practically everything if you allow it. This is where your desire to be someone of integrity has to outweigh your urge to binge watch Netflix while you work. Have actions with purpose instead of having reactions.
3. The Less Professional Label (Get a Real Job)
While I don’t hear this too often, I used to. Having a tech support and sales position, my day consisted in sitting at a computer all day. That was often viewed as not having a real job, because I just stayed home, dressed in my PJs, etc. Of course, this downfall is really how you handle the self-discipline aspect of your position. Back when I heard this often, my day consisted of keeping an eye on work while watching TV as I struggled with work once home life started falling apart. As mentioned above, be someone of integrity.
4. Fewer Distractions? Not Always the Case
While for many, working from home can lead to fewer distractions. As I mentioned above, you won’t have to hear Nancy talking to her work BFF about whatever, or have anyone stop by your workstation. However, as a single Dad, there can be different kinds of distractions called kids. What’s important is finding the balance between your number one priority of being a Dad, and an equally as important priority while on shift, which is working. It takes some trial and error along with some preparation, but it can be done. For me, situations with the kids while they are home and I am working, rarely impact my work.
5. Lack of Social Interaction
This is last on my list because as an introvert, to a point, I’m good with this. The problem here, as a single Dad, turns into work isn’t that place where I would get the social interaction, so it doesn’t just lack at home, it does at work too. Thinking outside of the box and other areas where you can make up for this. Don’t let this be the norm for you if you work from home. Be purposeful.
Are there any pros and cons to working from home that isn’t on my list? I’d love to hear from you!