THE 5 BEST AND WORST THINGS ABOUT WORKING FROM HOME

For those trapped in a cubicle or an open office working from home may sound like pajama-clad heaven. But there are two sides to every coin. Here are the trials and triumphs of the home office--in your own words. The first five slides represent the best aspects of working from home, while the final five represent the worst.

THE BEST: 1. FREEDOM

My rules. My way. My pace. My goals.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to me that I'm working for something I personally care about in a creative manner. When I create I get messy and my bosses usually were too psycho-rigid... @Alan_RY

THE BEST: 2. THE AMENITIES

Sitting on my patio on a warm summer's day with Wimbledon on my iPad in the background whilst I worked! @thewheelexists

THE BEST: 3. BEING CLOSE TO LOVED ONES

No question--being near my family. For eight years I worked more than an hour away from home, so there were many early mornings and late nights. Working from home, I am able to help around the house and experience life with my family--like watching my daughter take her first steps. @trent_scott

THE BEST: 4. WORK HOW YOU WANT, WHEN YOU WANT

I've worked in offices for about 40 years. I was recently hired in a great job working from home. It took me a while to not to worry about 'looking busy' during slow periods. No one is watching and judging! What freedom that is! @lmpratscher

THE BEST: 5. NO COMMUTE

My morning commute now consists of walking from the bedroom to the office, which has saved me gas money, and there’s no line for my morning cup of coffee. @salesbuddy

THE WORST: 1. THE STIGMA

Dealing with managers (and CEOs) who are set in the antiquated way of thinking that if they can't see you, you can't possibly be doing work. @jaynawallace

THE WORST: 2. NO BOUNDARIES

When I have relatives over while I'm working, it's hard for me to say: Sorry, I'm busy now... but they just take my presence and open door as an invitation to just talk to me openly without my consent. I'm an introvert, I hate when my thoughts are interrupted! @Alan_RY

THE WORST: 3. ISOLATION

There are moments of loneliness. That deck I'm working on, the copy I just wrote; while I can email it to a friend or co-worker there's no one in person to sit and review/collaborate/iterate with me on it. I can't exactly have my dog review it. The companionship that you get by going into an office and developing live relationships is something that I miss. @icyfrance

THE WORST: 4. THE DISTRACTION

Sticking to a schedule is the hardest because there a tons of distractions while at the same time not being "watched over" gives my lazy side more temptation. Inconsiderate friends and relatives and who assume you don't really work and call you out to help them move or pick them up from the airport. @Kapilbulsara

THE WORST: 5. STAGNATION

Sitting too much, which is very bad for my health. I know I need to get up and walk (run, dance) around more, but I get into what I'm doing on the computer and forget. @escapeartist02

The 5 Best And Worst Things About Working From Home

For those trapped in a cubicle or an open office, working from home may sound like pajama-clad heaven. But there are two sides to every coin. Here are the trials and triumphs of the home office--in your own words.

Is working from home a blessing, or a curse?

That's what we wanted to find out last week. So we put out a call on Facebook and Twitter asking for your input. Many of you, after all, have experienced both sides of the coin.

The results came streaming in and after just a few days we received over 100 detailed--and passionate--responses.

Below, we've singled out some of the most common positives, and negatives that you have found. We've also listed respondents' Twitter handles so you can continue the conversation!

The Good:

1. Freedom

My rules. My way. My pace. My goals.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to me that I'm working for something I personally care about in a creative manner. When I create I get messy and my bosses usually were too psycho-rigid... @Alan_RY

Freedom to use your time as you see best fit, and working only as much as you need to. @nagra__

2. The Amenities

Sitting on my patio on a warm summer's day with Wimbledon on my iPad in the background whilst I worked! @thewheelexists

3. Being close to loved ones

My grandparents and I live in the same apartment building. Being at home working gives me the chance to just drop by to share a meal together or even sometimes cook for them. I would not trade those precious moments for a job that pays me enough to buy a Porsche. @Alan_RY

No question--being near my family. For eight years I worked more than an hour away from home, so there were many early mornings and late nights. Working from home, I am able to help around the house and experience life with my family--like watching my daughter take her first steps. @trent_scott

4. Work how you want, when you want

The greatest benefit from working from home is the ability to work on any project at any time. You can start your day early or late and finish when you like. You have the flexibility to plan your day and include your errands and be there for others. @imediaexposure

I've worked in offices for about 40 years. I was recently hired in a great job working from home. It took me a while to not to worry about 'looking busy' during slow periods. No one is watching and judging! What freedom that is! @lmpratscher

5. No commute

No commute during Chicago winters, no office politics except when one of my dogs decides he no longer likes the other, being able to take a guilt-free break whenever I want and having complete control over my environment--noise, temp, decor/aesthetics, etc. @ResuMAYDAY

I save a lot of money on the days I work from home. Not having to spend money on buying lunch or a subway ticket or gas is a HUGE benefit. @jaiathomaslaw

My morning commute now consists of walking from the bedroom to the office, which has saved me gas money, and there’s no line for my morning cup of coffee. @salesbuddy

The Bad:

1. The stigma

Dealing with managers (and CEOs) who are set in the antiquated way of thinking that if they can't see you, you can't possibly be doing work. @jaynawallace

2. No Boundaries

When I have relatives over while I'm working, it's hard for me to say: Sorry, I'm busy now... but they just take my presence and open door as an invitation to just talk to me openly without my consent. I'm an introvert, I hate when my thoughts are interrupted! @Alan_RY

Sitting down at your computer as soon as you roll out of bed only to realize upon opening the door to the courier at 4 p.m. that you are still in your bathrobe and have not eaten lunch. And possibly not brushed your teeth. Not sure if that's the best or the worst thing about working from home: high on productivity but low on the social health scale.@aromacentric

Friends and family think that when you're working from home, you're available to help with other things. While this has gotten better over time for many people, I still get occasional lists of things that I don't have time for through the day.

3. Isolation

Loneliness and inability to work face-to-face with others to talk creatively, bounce ideas, etc. Distractions are plentiful, so it's always a challenge to avoid them.
@LouMongello

There are moments of loneliness. That deck I'm working on, the copy I just wrote; while I can email it to a friend or co-worker there's no one in person to sit and review/collaborate/iterate with me on it. I can't exactly have my dog review it. The companionship that you get by going into an office and developing live relationships is something that I miss.
@icyfrance

4. The distraction

The worst is definitely having friends and neighbors think that because I'm home, we can "hang out", get coffee, go run errands, or the flatmate who thinks that because I'm home, it's not an issue to expect, rather than ask, me to walk her dog twice a day, because I'm home anyway, when I actually have work to do or calls to make.
@michelejmartin

Sticking to a schedule is the hardest because there a tons of distractions while at the same time not being "watched over" gives my lazy side more temptation. Inconsiderate friends and relatives and who assume you don't really work and call you out to help them move or pick them up from the airport. @Kapilbulsara

Very little intellectual mind stimulating discussion with like minded work colleagues--really miss that! @Kapilbulsara

5. Stagnation

Sitting too much, which is very bad for my health. I know I need to get up and walk (run, dance) around more, but I get into what I'm doing on the computer and forget. @escapeartist02

Do you agree with these responses? If you've had a different experience, please share in the comments!

[Image: Flickr user Folkert Gorter]

Add New Comment

19 Comments

  • I have been working from home for many years in various jobs and for the most part really love all the benefits. Two issues though that I have with working at home is 1) Isolation and 2) lack of movement both of which I have come up with solutions.

    In terms of isolation, I try and get out to attend educational or networking events at least a few times a month. In terms of lack of movement ie. no where to walk, I purchased a walking treadmill desk about 18 months ago and have never looked back. It has definitely changed the way I work and given me much more creativity and energy throughout the day ... problem solved!

  • 20+ years of working from a home office in Sri Lanka and now, home in Canada! Wow! Its been a long winding road. The best part? Being there for my son and daughter. Some days its difficult to do the extra stuff, but being your own boss is priceless!

  • Redza Ali

    Traditional commute is pure wastage but if work from home doesn't yield expected results, that is even worse.

  • Karen

    How much do i want to work for someone i don't like, doing something i don't want to do. Paying the price. Who cares, it's doing what i love. For me it's a small price to pay and bloody worth it! I don't go to work, i love what i do, i will never have to work again! No negs here!

  • Nerissa Ochoa

    Working from home really depends on the persons discipline. It is important to remain focus while at work. I've been working from home for staff.com for quite some time now and I can share a few tips on how to balance life and work. A few things to consider are dedicated time for work,a small space to serve as your office and all the things you need for your work ready. It is important to plan your day ahead. Set a time for work and for your family. It is important that you set time only for work to avoid distractions and remain focus at work to be productive. A small office helps you think that you're working in an actual office. Keep the door locked and put a do not disturb sign. This will help you focus on work as well and be more productive. When working from home, always put in mind that you are working even you're at the comfort of your home.

  • Curry Cravings

    You've covered some of the more basic, common denominators of situation. Here is what I'd like to add.

    Best part: you are your own boss (of time).
    This is esp. true when you run your own business and are working from home - using your time wisely and most efficiently makes the difference. It frees you up for self-paced research & learning, independent market surveys, reading, competitive intelligence, and more. There is no limit to your learning or working potential. It is not about doing as little or as much as you want. It is about finding the BEST thing to do, that will help further your current project. The inspiration or a solution can from a news feed on TV, a conversation with a neighbor or a phone-call when you are stressed about resolving a issue. You learn to set priorities for your day, task based and time based. That includes family.

    Worst part: you are your own boss (of time).
    If you are not able to juggle time and project / family commitment, everything will crumble like a Jenga tower. Perhaps you forgot to eat because you were so caught up in work (which happens to me often and is ironic, as I am writing about food!). Or find that you have a new fire to put out that requires you to ditch the grocery run you intended to have, and solve it. Or, pick up your kid in the middle of a work day because they are sick. You've also got to learn to put life before work.

    I am a single parent (technically) with a traveling spouse, my own business and a home office, and no family in the US. When you work from home, you don't get a break but you can make the best of what you have by setting up your own terms. Given all the time zones I have to keep in mind, it allows me to call my traveling husband and family overseas at any time of the day, a luxury any traditional office structure would not see kindly. I would not trade this for any 8-5 desk job.

  • Suzanne C.

    I'm surprised that "You can never get away from the office" wasn't one of the five worst. I'm not being facetious, either. Since I'm already at home, it's incredibly difficult to shift out of work mode and leave the office behind. As a result, I put in more hours working at home than I ever did working in a cube. Plus, there's that sense that I have to do more in order to prove that I'm not just drinking gin and watching old movies all day.

  • Suzanne C.

    I'm a full-time employee in a satellite office setup, so I might not be the greatest help. That said, one thing that worked for me during my freelance days was to get involved with professional organizations. I volunteered copywriting services for an awards event and wound up with a couple of great clients.

  • Anthony Moore

    I agree, Suzanne. I work from home every day, I can definitely relate to the pressure to prove that I'm not just lounging all day (though there are some days…)

    I think it really depends on the job and how your approach it at home - I only have my bedroom to work in, so my desk is strictly for work, and working on my bed is strictly prohibited. I want to have really solid boundaries when it comes to when it's work-time and relax-time.

  • Mary

    Hi Anthony My first name is Mary I haved worked all of my life . I am very interested in working from home. What kind of work is the most interesting and worthwhile. I have been a waitress,caregiver,and housekeeper,janitor,cashier. For the most part. Own housekeeping business for more then 10
    Years. I'm tired of working too hard for so little little to show for it n I HAVE TO MAKE S AS MUCH AS I CAN ASAP!! If U are willing to get back to me I will check back By x-ma's day. Thank U

  • Telework Recruiting

    I agree with fellow Chicagoan @ResumeDay: not having to deal with the frigid cold is a big benefit of working from home. However, as mentioned by other posters, distraction and interruptions are an ongoing issue, no matter how clear I try to be with people around me. Working from home does not mean being free to chat, or to procrastinate on projects. And yes, I, too, roll out of bed and hop on my computer. It's like being on call 24/7.

  • P Mort

    Most of the "bad" doesn't bother me in the slightest.

    1. The stigma is probably the only one I would have much concern about, and even then, it's couched in opinions that aren't my own, so I can't worry about it too much. Over time, this will be less of an issue.

    2. No boundaries can get annoying if you don't bother to set any. Learn to put your foot down when needed and this isn't an issue.

    3. I'm very introverted, so the loneliness is actually a benefit to me. I can collab via Campfire or some other IRC program if I need to. Or Twitter. Another thing, when I'm done for the day after working on my own, I'm actually more fired up to go out and about; y'know, the whole introversion = increased energy from alone-time thing. I'm currently in an open-office setting with chatty people, and by the time the day is over, I'm so exhausted that I do not want to leave my apartment at all.

    4. Feel like #4 is #2 in disguise. Distractions can be a problem, but kick up the self-discipline and then they're not.

    5. I definitely don't get this complaint. You sit at an office as well as at your desk at home. Getting a standing desk is possible for both places, but the home doesn't require sign-off for your expense account. Working from home, you're free to work how or where you want. Or even from a coffee shop or shared co-op space.

    So yeah, I'm all for giving work-from-home a shot.

  • Telework Recruiting

    The interruptions from others in many cases come from children. Their idea of an emergency is never the same as mine...no matter how often I try to explain the difference. That is why I never recommend people think working from home is a solution to paying for daycare.

  • Carolyn Fitzpatrick

    True! My main pet peeve concerning working at home is the disbelief from people when they hear that I work from home and have the baby in daycare. Suddenly I'm a selfish person for being at home all day and not wanting kids underfoot. I think this falls under the "stigma" category in the list above - people think that if you are working from home you aren't doing REAL work and should be able to take care of kids at the same time.