Working from home can be a fantastic idea for some and a horrendous thought for others. In this blog, career consultant Simon North explores the pros and cons of homeworking.
“Let us first look into some of the things that you need to be aware of when you think about this subject.
Flexible working is a relatively new phenomenon and it can be the right type of working for certain people in certain situations and in certain environments, but it is not for everybody.
For some people, the importance of social interaction is very high on their list of needs as a worker. Therefore, one of the things you may want to think about is whether you need social interaction and if so, to what extent you need it. Consider whether you can get that fix of social interaction somewhere else other than the workplace.
Onto the pros and cons of working from home:
- As time goes on, we become less patient and tolerant in our working life. It is that impatience and intolerance that can get us in trouble in the workplace, because, when we’re working around others, there are things that trigger us to respond in a way which maybe 5 years ago we wouldn’t have done. Nowadays, these things get to us. One of the good things about homeworking is that a lot of those issues disappear when we stop having to be around others all day long.
- You get to use your time in the way that is best for yourself and your work. We are the best judges of our time; we always have been. One of the things that can adversely affect us, particularly with the issue above, is that other people can get in our way and warp our natural sense of what we should be doing at a particular time. When we’re working by ourselves and are able to tune into what we’re thinking and feeling without outside interference, we stand a better chance of getting the timing right.
- You don’t need to commute. One of the great benefits for those of us who work from home is that we don’t have to waste time commuting. It’s not just time, it’s cost, it’s hassle, it’s the reliance on others and on transport infrastructure, it’s the carbon footprint. So working from home is not only more convenient logistics-wise, we also get a sense of being a bit more noble because we’re helping the environment.
- Today’s technology makes it easier than ever to work from home. We can use technology in so many different ways that, for efficient homeworking, you only really need a laptop, mobile phone, printer and Wi-Fi and you’re away. The total cost of that is not a lot.
- As long as you’re being productive, it doesn’t matter where you are. Jobs and roles have changed shape significantly in recent times. For employers and buyers it’s now much less about being present and more about output. This bodes well for those who wish to work from home, either for an organization or for yourself, as it’s now recognized that you don’t need to be in an office to get results.
- You need to create a space to work, whether that’s at home or whether that’s somewhere else that is close by you. But it’s not just about creating space; it’s mainly about creating boundaries—those close to you may not believe that you’re working if they see you and they’ve been used to you working when they haven’t seen you. Daft as that sounds, it can become a problem to people unless they clearly set out the boundaries in their relationship with those closest to them.
- You’ve grown accustomed to forming daily routines around your workplace and your travel to and from there. When you work from home, you have to create those routines yourself and you have to install a level of self-discipline that maybe is not what you’re used to. Maybe you were one of those office workers who naturally worked well when you were at your desk, your head was down, you were concentrating, the boss was around and everybody was being quiet and getting on with it. Now you don’t have any of that and the atmosphere is completely different.
- There can be obstacles to a smooth working day. If you’re at home there will be many things that may distract you, ranging from the post arriving and needing a signature to having to dash out for milk to finding other things of interest in your workspace; whether that’s to do with the internet, a book or the telly.
- You have to be more conscious about your nutrition and your exercise. Take regular breaks and eat properly in the middle of the working day rather than just refueling on caffeine. Take time out every day to go and do some exercise, even if it’s just a walk. The change of air, change of scenery and moving your body while taking in the fresh air will revive and refresh you. Aerobic exercise in the gym is another option. Your new found homeworking environment must be able to accommodate these things.”
Simon North is the Founder of Position Ignition, one of the UK’s leading career consultancy companies which created the Career Ignition Club, a leading-edge online careers support and learning platform. Follow him @PosIgnition