Work + Home = Productive ?
I’ve heard many a discussion about the productivity of a working from home setup. I’ve often wondered about it myself, often been its adversary when debating the issue with friends.
People seem to be extremely opinionated when siding with its pros or cons. Some say it should be adopted in India as an alternative culture (especially in Metropolitan cities with a mad rush of traffic) due to traveling circumstances, etc. Others argue that it is detrimental to professionalism and hard work. I thought that way too… until I chanced upon a fair, well-rounded article that took to both sides of the debate.
The Birmingham Business Journal website had an excellent article on the pros and cons of the work from home concept. It was written by a certain Fran Bostick (owner of The Bostick Group LLC, an HR consulting firm). Here in this post, included are some highlights..
Pros of working from home
- No commute to work: Most people save money on gas and car maintenance.
- No dress code: Some people even admit to working in their pajamas. Most people save money on clothes.
- Flexibility: People like being able to work at their most creative times. They can plan their work around their exercise routine, their child’s school day, shopping or household chores. They also can take a break when they feel like it.
- Tax write-off: People working from home are able to write off their business expenses and home-office space on their taxes.
- Improved health: One colleague says she is healthier now that she works from home since she does not have to cram her errands and lunch into one hour each day. She eats less fast food and moves around more during the day.
- More control: Some people experience less stress working from home, although everyone surveyed did not agree. Everyone, though, did say they have more control of their time and can choose the projects they want to work on, and do not miss the boss breathing down their necks.
Cons of working from home
- Lack of social interaction: Everyone I talked to says they disliked the isolation. Those who thrive on interaction with others will need to be creative to meet that need. Actually, I met most of the people I interviewed for this article through two of the professional organizations I belong to. I have sought out these people who work from home and try to network with them on a regular basis.
- Distractions: This will vary from person to person, but for some, there are many distractions when working from home. Women especially see the dirty dishes in the sink, and the thick coat of dust on the furniture. It is hard for some people to concentrate on work until menial household chores are done. It takes self-discipline to work when there are so many other things to do and it is so easy to take a break.
- Office space and equipment: Many people need to install additional phone lines, purchase computer equipment and set up additional lighting in their home to achieve workable office space. This can be a major expense to those just starting out. One piece of advice is not to set up office space in your kitchen or your child’s play area because of the lack of privacy.
- Projecting a professional image to clients: When I first started working from home, I had to train my children, as well as their friends, not to answer the “business phone” when it rang, and the dog invariably started to bark each time I made a business call. The dog now stays outside for the day while I work. (Maybe the kids should too!) I also do not relish clients coming to my office to meet with me. It just does not seem professional to have them traipsing though my home to get to my office. I usually go to my client’s office to meet with them.
- Lack of a regular paycheck: Many who work from home do so on a project- type basis and may miss the regularity of a paycheck. It takes an extreme amount of self-discipline to manage finances in this way.
- I’m only one person: It is challenging for one person working from home and to be all things to all clients. I suggest that you know your strengths and establish your niche, then network with others to establish a system to refer one another to clients.
Conclusion The bottom line is that working from home is not for wimps. It requires a great deal of self-discipline, initiative, energy and dedication to work from home successfully. My colleagues and I may not choose to work from home forever, but for now, the rewards greatly outweigh the negatives.
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