The Joys and Woes of Working From Home

US News

Working from home seems like a dream--until you try it. Before you try convincing your boss you can work remotely, take these pros and cons into consideration.

Pros

1. You don't have to get ready in the morning. In fact, you can get ready anytime you want. Or not at all! Especially for women, the lure of not having to put makeup on and blow-dry your hair is particularly freeing. While you should avoid staying in your pajamas all day, being comfortable is a huge benefit of a home office.

2. You can dance. When things are going well or you need a break from your day, you're free to get up from your desk and start lip-synching and dancing. No one will see you and it's a great stress-reliever. You could also try going for a walk or quick jog in the middle of the day to boost your productivity. It's often easier to get a bit of perspective when you're away from your desk.

3. You'll have quiet to focus on work. There are no interruptions at home unless you want them. Instead of your colleague stopping by your cubicle three times in an hour, you can put your head down and work uninterrupted for hours on end. The ability to work alone means you can be laser-focused on knocking every last item off your to-do list.

4. You don't have to commute. The average commute time in the United States is around 30 minutes, which is often spent cursing other drivers. Find peace at home without any traffic or horns. Bonus, you'll have more time to get stuff done. The extra time you normally spend traveling to and from work is often all you need to get ahead.

Cons

1. There's less communication with your team. If you're not practiced at working remotely, it's possible that you won't communicate as often with your team and miss out on valuable conversations. The inability to eavesdrop is reason enough to work face-to-face. If you're at home, use conferencing tools liberally and check in often so you don't miss out.

2. Distractions come in other forms. While your chatty co-worker is no longer an issue at home, the television, kitchen, books, dogs and kids can be major distractions. Make sure you're actually working when you say you're working from home. Use a dedicated space, and give yourself scheduled and timed breaks to stay productive.

3. You may be seen as less professional. It may be the 21st century, but many employers still prefer that you sit in a desk instead of focus on getting results. Best Buy recently killed its ROWE (Results Only Work Environment) culture, and tech companies like Yahoo are formalizing office-only environments. Make sure you have a close relationship with your manager to avoid negative work-at-home stereotypes.

4. You get too comfortable. Working from home is only for people who can apply discipline and practice to their daily habits. If you find yourself resenting the office workplace, it may be because you've gotten too comfortable just getting by at home. Try challenging yourself to hit a new goal or complete a project to jump-start your competitive spirit. Your career depends on it.

Whether working from home is just a dream or you're seriously considering it, review your priorities and what truly makes you fulfilled at work.

Rebecca Thorman's weekly blog Kontrary offers tips to create the career, bank account, and life you love, and is a popular destination for young professionals. Her goal is to help you find meaningful work, enjoy the heck out of it, and earn more money. She writes from Washington, D.C.



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