Would you like to work from home? Do you want to set up your own business or perhaps you are looking for a job with telecommuting from your home? I’m going to tell you everything you need to know so you can do it in the best conditions.
We are going to see the advantages and disadvantages of working from home , and what you can learn from it.
I’ll start with the drawbacks and risks, so I can give you tips that will prevent you from falling into the most common traps and take steps to be prepared.
In the second part of that guide, I will tell you about the many advantages of working from home. You probably didn’t know some of them.
MORE AND MORE PEOPLE OPT FOR TELECOMMUTING
I found it interesting to start with a statistic. According to the latest data published in this regard, in 2018 there were 1.43 million people who worked from home in Spain, one in every 14 workers. It is an all-time high in an uptrend, but progressing slowly.
In addition, almost 70% of the employees surveyed would like to be able to opt for teleworking, but find it difficult to do so, because the companies do not allow it.
One of every four new jobs created is a telecommuting, which predicts that the proportion of remote workers will increase in the coming years.
If you also want to be able to carry out your professional activity from home, you have two great options:
- You are looking for a company that allows telecommuting.
- You set up your own online business from home.
That is if you are going to dedicate yourself 100% to your professional activity at home. But you can also see it as a way to get extra income , maintaining your main activity.
Next, I will explain the pros and cons of working from home, differentiating them sometimes if you are an employee or if you have your own company.
Let’s go there!
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF WORKING FROM HOME: THE RISKS
That is the phrase I hear the most when I tell people that I have been working from home for 10 years.
And if I like it. But no, it is not a “bargain” as many people think. That is why it seemed right to start this article on the pros and cons of working from home on the negative side. Because it has some dangers and aspects that can become bad if you don’t remedy them.
But do not worry. For each risk I have some tips so you don’t fall into the trap.
RISK #1: THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE SEPARATION BETWEEN WORK AND PERSONAL LIFE
What is this danger?
Going to an office every day has its drawbacks, but at least one thing is clear: your workplace is clearly differentiated from your home. This makes it much easier to separate work and personal life.
When you work from home, there is no longer a clear limit. And that is bad.
- People who find it hard to get to work can fall into many temptations and do nothing.
- There is also the opposite risk, of getting so enthusiastic about your activity that you only dedicate yourself to work and do not know how to stop.
In fact, a common behavior of people who work from home is to go from one extreme to the other. You don’t do much for a few days, you feel guilty and you work non-stop, you get tired and go back to not doing much. And so on.
The solution: reset the limits
Luckily you can apply some practical advice so that this does not happen to you.
- Set a work schedule and stick to it . If you are an employee and telecommute, it is likely that this schedule is set by your company. If you have your own business, you decide. Start by working about eight hours a day and having weekends off. You can then adjust based on your workload.
- Organize a home office . It is recommended not to have your desk in the room. Choose a quiet place, where you will not be disturbed. The ideal is to have an office in a separate room from the rest of the house, if possible. If you physically separate the spaces, it is easier to re-establish a boundary between professional life and personal life.
- Agree rules with the other inhabitants of your house . Explain your work schedule to them so they don’t bother you during those hours. That means not interrupting you, but also not making annoying noises, as much as possible.
- Don’t work in your pajamas , as tempting as that may be. Get dressed in the morning. It is a symbolic act, but it also makes it possible to establish a clearer difference between your break time and your work time.
DANGER #2: MULTIPLE DISTRACTIONS
What risk am I talking about?
I couldn’t write an article about the pros and cons of working from home without mentioning that when your work depends only on yourself, it’s much harder to stay focused and motivated.
You have no co-workers, no boss who can control you.
And there are a thousand temptations at home.
To the risk of frequently looking at your mobile or wasting time on social networks, you have to add the fact that you are at home:
- Suddenly, you think that it might be a good time to put on a washing machine and hang out the clothes.
- You get hungry and visit the fridge.
- Another chapter of your favorite series before going back to work?
- You start talking with your partner or one of your children.
- The dog wants to go for a walk.
I could go on but I think you get my point.
The remedy: tricks to be productive at home
It’s possible to keep temptations at bay by sticking to the schedule I discussed in the previous section, but to make sure you stay focused and productive, I’d advise you to do the following:
- Schedule each work day . Make a list of the tasks that you have to perform during your working hours, and assign a duration to each of them. It’s much easier to stay focused if you have a guide to what you have to do and how much time you have.
- Prioritize tasks . We naturally tend to avoid what we don’t want to do. Put the most important jobs for that day first on your list. And if there is something that you don’t feel like doing at all but that you know is important, start with that. So the rest of the day will be more pleasant.
- Alternate periods of work with short breaks . For example, you can work hard for 30 minutes, then do something relaxing for 5 minutes. That allows you to go back to work another 30 minutes with more force. You can take advantage of those 5 minutes for small household tasks. But make sure you don’t run out of time.
- Make a small daily balance of what you have managed to do and what you have not. It will allow you to realize if you are being productive. And so you will be more aware of the aspects that you have to improve.
- Take away the temptation of the mobile . Put it on airplane mode if necessary, or even store it in another room. This way you will avoid looking at it every five minutes.
- Project Management Tools . Remember that there are very good software on the market, here is a tutorial that Javier recently published on Kanban Flow .
The least visible danger
Despite all the advantages of working from home that I will discuss later in the article, there is a pernicious aspect that many people are not aware of. It is a relative social isolation.
Think about it.
If your entire working day is spent at home, you have little contact with other people.
- If you live alone, you will notice it a lot and that will probably push you to do things to get out of the house and socialize.
- But if you live as a family, you may feel very comfortable because your basic social needs will be met. Paradoxically, living with more people is more dangerous for your social life because it can prevent you from realizing your isolation and the need to see other people.
Get out of the house!
So if you telecommute or run a home business, take steps to socialize:
- Sign up for an activity that interests you (sports, dance, painting…)
- Meet friends for drinks after work.
- Visit coworking spaces occasionally to meet other professionals who have a lot in common with you.
- Participate in professional events.
- Take advantage of collaborative platforms to meet people (Meetup, Blablacar, Couchsurfing )
Make it your goal to meet people outside your family circle at least 3 times a week.
DANGER #4: A SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE
Working from home can be a trap for your health
If you don’t even have to leave home to go to work, and you always have the fridge within walking distance, you have the perfect ingredients to fall into a sedentary lifestyle.
In Spain in 2016 there were 24 million people who were overweight or obese, that is, with a body mass index greater than 25 or 30 respectively. Ten years before, there were 21 million and in 2030 the estimates are 27 million people, about 70% of the adult population. It is one of the main health problems and the Ministry of Health takes it very seriously .
It turns out that two of the main risk factors for excess weight are precisely lack of exercise and snacking between meals. If you work from home, you are more exposed to both risks.
Proven anti-sedentary tips
Luckily, it has an easy solution:
- Do moderate-intensity exercise five times a week. When you work at home you have time to do it, so stop making excuses.
- Don’t eat between meals . Have three main meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and two snacks (one mid-morning and one for afternoon snack). Obviously, healthy and varied food, and in adequate proportions.
- Sleep well . Lack of sleep artificially increases appetite.
RISK #5: LACK OF ERGONOMICS
The danger of neglecting your posture
Talking about the advantages and disadvantages of working from home cannot be done without mentioning ergonomics.
When you are hired by a company for an office job, they usually provide you with an ergonomic workstation. You have a big screen, a comfortable chair, and a desk at the right height.
If you start working from home, you may initially think that a laptop, the dining room table and any chair are enough. But it’s not like that.
If you neglect the configuration of your workstation, you will have problems with your back, your eyesight, or both.
And the problem is that the consequences of poor ergonomics are not immediately noticeable, but after some time.
The solution to work in good conditions
I share with you some recommendations to take care of your posture while you work sitting down:
- Invest in stuff . Buy yourself a comfortable, height-adjustable office chair. Also buy a large screen and an ergonomic keyboard. You will spend many hours working. Worth.
- You have to have a good working posture . Keep your back straight and support it against the back of the chair. The table should be at the height of your elbows. Put your feet on the ground. Place your keyboard and computer screen directly in front of you, so you don’t have to twist your neck.
- Change your position from time to time to reduce muscle tension. It’s also good to get up periodically, and even do some stretching.
DANGER #6: COMMUNICATION FAILURES
Out of sight…
Even if you work remotely, you will have to be in contact with many people. But that contact is almost never going to be in person, and that can cause some difficulties.
In particular, it’s much easier to have misunderstandings and miscommunication when you’re writing messages than when you’re speaking out loud. Because you don’t have the opportunity to correct in the moment if the person understands something else than what you wanted to express.
The remedy is common sense
The solution in this case is simple:
- Always check any message you are going to send, putting yourself in the place of the person who receives it, to see if it is understood as you intended. This is especially important if you are going to send email marketing campaigns by mail .
- Organize video conferences or phone calls to deal with more complex issues that need a dialogue.
RISK #7: WORRY ABOUT MONEY
Bread for today, but…
In this case, I am referring only to those who are thinking of setting up their own business. For all of them, the economic aspect is important to assess the pros and cons of working from home. Employees do not have this drawback.
When you start a business, two factors combine that can be annoying and a source of concern:
- The uncertainty about your future income . The most common thing is that when you start a month you do not know how much billing you will end up with. Even if you have recurring customers, you can never be absolutely sure about your future activity.
- You have no paid vacation . Of course you can schedule a few days without work and travel wherever you want, but you know that while you do it you will not be generating activity and therefore your income will decrease.
Take control of your economy
To have more financial peace of mind, I recommend that you follow these guidelines:
- Look for stable income . The ideal is subscription systems, which allow you to retain your customers for longer periods of time.
- Try to increase the part of your sales that comes from passive income . That way, your billing will be disconnected from your daily activity, and you can go on vacation without losing money.
- Save when you have stronger months . If you constitute a good reserve, you will have a fund for vacations and you will leave with a calmer mind.
You see, all the inconveniences of working at home can be solved perfectly. And now, what is promised is debt, I am going to talk to you about the advantages.
PROS AND CONS OF WORKING FROM HOME: THE ADVANTAGES
I would not want that after reading the various risks that I have listed before you will be left with a negative opinion. When you break down the pros and cons of working from home, the benefits seem to me to far outweigh the cons.
I’m going to introduce you to make your own opinion.
PERK #1: YOU RECOVER 13% USEFUL TIME EACH DAY
Where did I get that stat from?
It is a simple calculation.
I start from the premise that you have 16 useful hours each day, because the other 8 you are sleeping.
If you live in a big city, it probably takes you about 2 hours a day to get to and from work.
You fully recover those 2 hours if you locate your office at home. And they represent 13% of your conscious time.
Realize a little bit of the magnitude of that. 2 hours a day is 10 hours a week and about 450 hours a year, or 28 days of 16 hours (the ones you really take advantage of because you’re awake). You have almost an extra month each year to do what you want.
You can spend more time playing sports, being with your family, your favorite activities, or you can simply sleep a little more. You choose.
BENEFIT #2: YOU NO LONGER HAVE A BOSS, OR AT LEAST YOU HAVE HIM FAR AWAY
If you have opted for telecommuting, one of the greatest advantages of working from home is that you no longer have anyone on top of you. No boss, no co-workers. You have a lot of independence and freedom to organize yourself however you want.
If you set up your own business, not having a boss does not depend so much on where you are working, but it is also a reality. Of course you will have a multitude of little bosses called clients. And sometimes they can be a bit heavy. But since there will be many, their ability to annoy will be diluted.
ADVANTAGE #3: YOU WORK FOR SOMETHING YOU LIKE (IF YOU SET UP YOUR OWN BUSINESS)
When you look for a job as an employee, you try to match it with something you like, but you are limited by the market and the law of supply and demand. However, when you start your own business, you can choose an activity that you are passionate about. Moreover, it is recommended to do so.
And not only the choice of sector or activity. Since you control the business, you can orient yourself towards jobs that you like more. You still have some limitations, because it has to be something you can monetize , but you have a lot of freedom to build your career in the direction that matters to you.
No more regrets for not controlling your life. You can do whatever you want. And that also generates a lot of personal satisfaction and happiness.
BENEFIT #4: YOU SAVE MONEY
Not only do you stop spending two hours a day on transport, but you save the corresponding cost.
Many people drive about 10,000 kilometers a year just to go to work. That translates into spending €1,000 a year on gasoline, not counting the same amount for general wear and tear on the vehicle, tires, maintenance or loss of value.
Traveling by public transport is cheaper, but for many workers it still costs around €500 a year.
You eat at home, so you save a lot on restaurant expenses. Because, even if you took your food to work, surely once a week you ended up eating out.
You don’t have to dress up too much for work either, you can be at home in jeans. You no longer need to buy ties and suits every few years.
It seems silly, but in the end it adds up. And if that’s not enough for you, you can always check out those money-saving tips on the Ideas and Savings blog.
ADVANTAGE #5: YOU CAN WORK FROM WHEREVER YOU WANT AND AT THE TIME YOU WANT
Do you want to go see how it is to live in Thailand? They say that it is a very cheap country, that the people are friendly and that the weather is generally very pleasant (except during the monsoon).
If you work from home, it is something that you can perfectly contemplate. I do not take into account the possible family obligations you have, obviously. But you are not limited by work. And you can set up a different timetable to Spain, keeping some timetables in common to be able to communicate in a fluid way.
I have given the example of Thailand, but you can also move around Spain, or even in your city, you can try to meet people in coworking spaces.
BENEFIT #6: YOU GET BACK IN TOUCH WITH YOUR FAMILY
You have more time and you are at home. It is the perfect combination to spend more time with your family.
Family models are changing, and telecommuting can help this trend a lot. Traditionally, women have been the ones who have taken care of the children the most. But today, a man who works from home can take care of many domestic tasks, and of course, he can share time with his children .
If you organize your work well, you can accompany your children to school, be available when they do their homework, play with them, give them dinner, read them a bedtime story, and much more.
This possibility of reconciling family and professional life is undoubtedly one of the great benefits of working from home.
ADVANTAGE #7: YOU CAN SLEEP MORE
I’ve already devoted a paragraph to the time you save, and mentioned in passing that you could use it to get more sleep. But it is such an important element for your health and well-being that I wanted to highlight it again.
Most people sleep less than necessary. Keep in mind that it is recommended to sleep between 7 and 8 hours a day. The pace of life in Spain is not usually compatible with these tips. Spaniards go to bed late and get up early.
When you work from home, you not only have more time to sleep, you also have better quality sleep, because you have less stress. You are not afraid that the alarm will not sound and that you will be late for work. If you don’t wake up at the scheduled time, it’s not a drama. You adapt your schedule that day and that’s it.
A better quality of sleep has many benefits on your physical and mental health. It helps lower the risk of certain cardiovascular diseases, reduces the risk of being overweight, and gives you greater peace of mind. Also, if you sleep better, you are more productive at work, so you don’t have to put in as many hours to get results.
BENEFIT #8: YOU IMPROVE YOUR QUALITY OF LIFE
This last benefit can be a synthesis of all the others.
How can you not improve your quality of life if you have more free time, share more with your family, suffer less from stress, do what you like, save money and have independence?
If you control the risks that I mentioned in the first part of the article, the many advantages of working from home far outweigh the disadvantages. Do not lose this chance! Analyze how you can join the teleworking trend, and if you see it viable, take action.