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Sounds like a dream, but is working at home for you?

Published on Friday, September 18, 2009 Email To Friend    Print Version

Have you dreamed about working from home?

Lately, the dream has become a reality for many individuals. More and more companies are allowing employees the option of telecommuting -- working from a remote area, such as home. Technology enables work-at-home employees access to company phone systems, servers and e-mail. However, working at home has its share of pluses and minuses, and it may or may not be right for you. Consider the pros and cons below:

  1. Spending time with the kids.

    PRO: For parents who are wrestling with the decision of putting children into a form of childcare (such as day care), working at home can mean spending more time with the kids and avoiding the child-care issue altogether. You won’t miss the little growth spurts and changes your youngster makes each day. Plus you will save on the high cost of day care, too.

    CON: It can be difficult to concentrate when a baby is crying or toddlers are vying for your attention. You may still need to have some form of childcare, like a nanny or sitter, so you can devote consecutive hours to your job. After all, it can be embarrassing to be on the phone with a client when your two-year-old yells, “I have to go potty!” or “I want lunch NOW!”

  2. Dress down every day.

    PRO: You can wake up, shower, and head to your home office in your bathrobe and slippers. Unless you have Web conferencing, coworkers won’t know if you’re having a bad hair day or spilled juice on your pajamas. Wearing what makes you comfortable can improve work productivity.

    CON: You may miss the dynamic of getting dressed up and looking good that is apparent in many offices. Being casually dressed may put you in a more laid-back mood, which can carry over to your work ethic and quality of work.

  3. Time management.

    PRO: It can be much easier to focus on your tasks without having to contend with coworkers stopping by your cubicle to chat or impromptu meetings in the boss’ office. Also, fewer distractions may allow you to be more efficient at getting assignments done than if you were in the office.

    CON: Being at home offers the temptation to do house-related things. Even the most honest employee is guilty of throwing in a load of laundry or walking the dog on company hours. If you find you’re frequently tuning into a soap opera instead of working on your marketing proposal, you could have problems. It takes a dedicated person to resist “goofing off” when no one is watching.

  4. Flexible hours.

    PRO: In many cases, a home-work setup allows you to log in during business hours (or a time you’ve set that is mutually acceptable with your place of business). But you can also catch up on assignments and work your way through a heavy load on your normal downtime -- without having to trek into the office. It is also convenient if you have to leave for a doctor’s appointment or pick up the kids from school. You can simply make up hours when you return.

    CON: Some overachievers fail to recognise the distinction between when their workday ends and their home life begins. It’s quite easy to spend too many hours on the computer or phone, and few with the family. You may feel obligated to check your e-mail or voice mail, even late at night or on the weekends. You’ll need to set a distinct time when it’s “lights out” for work.

  5. Easy on the wallet.

    PRO: When working at home, you have the easiest commute ever: Simply step over the cat on your way to your office. You’ll save cash normally allotted to fuel for your car. Additionally, you’ll save in other ways, including on wardrobe, meals, and lunchtime shopping excursions you may normally have made.

    CON: It’s easy to feel secluded when working at home. Although you might IM all day or talk with colleagues regularly, nothing replaces the face-to-face element of being in the office. A “power lunch” or just a quick bite with a coworker can boost morale and be a stress buster -- even if it costs you a few extra bucks for that deli sandwich as opposed to the one you’ve made yourself. Working at home does have its share of other expenses, including higher electric bills, high-speed Internet connection, office supplies, and other necessities that may not be covered by your company.

    Before you take the leap to working at home, make sure you consider all the aspects of this type of employment situation. You may find that a conventional office job might actually be the best option for you, or you will see that working at home is the dream job you’ve always wanted!
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