The Advantages and Disadvantages of Working from Home in 2024
As more and more people have been able to take advantage of working from home, it makes sense to let you in on my experience over the past decade of what it’s really like to work outside the office and in a home environment.
At first, working at home seems like it’s the best possible situation to be in, and for many, it is. There’s no daily commute helping you save time and money, there’s often more flexibility, and you get a better work-life balance.
However, depending on what type of work you do or the business you run, there are some downsides to the whole working-at-home boom.
Before we get to those, though, let’s dive into the perks of remote working.
Advantages of Working from Home
I’ve been working from home since 2012, and there’s no doubt that there have been many advantages to being able to do just that over the years.
1. Time Saving = Better Work-Life Balance
Not having to wake up early and commute to and from work has to be one of the top advantages. It saves you time, time that you can use to have a greater work-life balance.
At first, it was to get more sleep and enjoy more time with friends; later on, it turned into being able to watch my son grow, enjoying more moments with him that I would have otherwise missed out on before.
2. Money Saving
Commuting every day, five days a week doesn’t come cheap. Whether filling up the car or buying train tickets, reducing the amount of time traveling each day saves you money.
Money that can be used on other, more fun things, experiences, or just to help pay the mortgage off quicker. It’s also an eco-friendly option as fewer cars on the roads means fewer pollutants in the air, saving you money and the environment a little at the same time.
3. Wear what you want
I’m not a fan of being suited and booted. Many jobs need you to look the part for sure but feeling uncomfortable doing it made me unproductive and awkward.
Wearing comfortable clothes can often help with focus, but I’m not saying just go to work in your pants. Wear something comfy but still work safe (professional) just in case you get a video call you weren’t expecting is a must.
Depending on the kind of work you do or the company you work for, there’s often more flexibility packed into an at-home workday.
You might be able to work a little earlier or later in the day, freeing you up to walk the dog, take the kids to school, or pop to an appointment. Being flexible also helps with a better work-life balance.
5. Less Interruptions (to a point)
If you have a dedicated space to work from within your home, it’s nice to be able to close the door and forget about the rest of the world.
No more interruptions from overzealous managers watching all you do down to every keystroke. Or co-worker’s stories that soak up important work time. But that’s all up to a point.
If you have small kids at home, expect to be interrupted throughout your workday, and there’s no getting away from instant messages from co-workers. Emails at least can be answered a little later.
Disadvantages of Working from Home
On the flip side, there are also some cons to the whole philosophy of working from home. The grass isn’t always greener, as some might say.
1. More Distractions (Hard to Concentrate)
You might get fewer interruptions from colleagues when working at home, but there are certainly a lot of distractions that can crop up.
From the dishes to washing clothes, to getting deliveries, pesky cold callers, or if you have small kids just wanting to pop off for 10 mins to play with them.
For many, it can be hard to focus solely on work with so much other stuff going on day to day, so be sure to manage your time the best you can to reduce distractions and make the most of the situation. If you can set yourself a dedicated workspace as your home office to maximise productivity.
2. Feeling of Isolation
I’m lucky enough to work with my wife, which for some part, mitigates the feeling of isolation.
We can talk and have interactions throughout the day; however, for many, a disadvantage of home, work-life is that you miss the water-cooler scenarios or just human contact daily, which we all need to some extent.
These interactions might have been seen as interruptions by your boss, but often those brief moments are what we start to miss when working at home for prolonged periods. And no, ZOOM calls don’t count.
3. It Costs to Setup
If you’re running a business online or just working online, you’re going to need the right tools to do your job.
If you’re lucky, your company will provide you with a laptop and sufficient means to do that. If you’re not, you might end up forking out the bill for a setup that works for you.
It’s all well and good working from the sofa, but the right desk, ergonomic chair, laptop, fast internet, and comfortable office style setup are key to being productive and your health.
4. Only available for Online Businesses
If you’re a factory worker, lorry driver, or farmer, you’re probably not going to be able to work from the comfort of your home. This means that the type of job or business you run will directly determine if you can actually do your job.
Not all, but most jobs from home require some sort of online interaction, even if it’s just taking orders for your subscription box service or at-home beauty therapy businesses.
From Content Writers to SEO services, Web Designers, Marketing, the list goes on, but if you’re unlucky enough to do a job that isn’t online, then it disadvantages you.
5. Waiting for Answers
When at home, you can’t just turn around to your colleague next to you or pop into your managers’ office to get the answer quickly.
You’ll often have to wait for an email response or instant messenger, which might be delivered instantly but usually take a while to be answered. And this can sometimes stop you in your tracks, holding up your work and whatever project you’re on.
6. Dodgy Internet & Phone Signal
The internet pretty much rules our lives, from soaking up social media and today’s depressing news to cat memes and, of course, work.
Working in the office often means you’ll get a good internet connection, but not so much at home. You’re your own IT person at home, so if you’ve not set up your WIFI correctly or live in a slow connection area, this can start to take its toll on your work life.
The same goes for phone signals. Do you keep missing work calls cause your phone randomly decided not to ring? Make sure you get rid of these issues for a happier remote working life.
What’s the best way of working?
I’ve been working from a small home office since 2012. It first started as a small desk in the bedroom, moved to the dining table, a spare bedroom, and eventually a proper little office space in the garden.
And even though the work-life balance is undoubtedly crucial to being happier, no commute and the money-saving benefits of working from home, the disadvantages we’ve mentioned do often rear their head.
It can be hard to concentrate, lack of human interaction, just the general chit-chat and buzz of the office is hard to replicate at home, and we need a little variation in our lives to be more productive and keep from getting bored.
If we could have a mix of working from home and at the office would be an ideal situation. The perfect model is a four-day workweek with one day at the office and three at home. It lets you catch up on the office gossip, makes you feel part of a team again, and gives you key working from home benefits a lot of time.
Our top tips – how to make working from home work for you
- Dress for business, not for the gym to put you in the right frame of mind
- Create a daily routine to minimize distractions and increase productivity
- Take breaks often, so you don’t burn out
- Invest in the right office setup to protect your health and increase efficiency (yes, a second monitor, a mouse, and reliable internet do speed things up)
- Talk to people, whether the post person, neighbor, or fellow dog walker. A little human interaction goes a long way
Whether you’re currently working from home, thinking about letting your employees do that or starting an at-home side hustle, it’s always good to get an overview of the pros and cons of the situation.
But for me, it’s one of the best things I ever did.