Benefits of Working From Home – Part Four – Employee Risks and Rewards

This is part 4 of a 5-part series on working from home.  Part one  presented my story when I did my office job from our basement, part 2 discusses the inefficiency of the office, and part 3 looked at the risk and rewards from the employers point of view.

The past blog in this series looked at the risks and rewards of letting employees work from home from the eyes of an employer.  This time I will look at this from the employee’s perspective.  I liked working from home and there were a lot more positives than negatives from my point of view.  For many people they much prefer getting out of the house and working in an office.  Here are some risks and rewards to consider before you make the move.

Risks

  • Becoming an Outsider:  When you are working from home, and doing a good job, you may be forgotten by others working in the office.  It may become harder to gain recognition and to move up the corporate latter.  Out of sight and out of mind
  • Social Benefits:  While you can save a lot of time in the day by not chatting with fellow employees you will lose some of the benefits of socializing.  This could be losing touch with the goings on in the company or simply not making as many friends.  I met my wife when we started working together.
  • Office Fun:  Can be boring working by yourself
  • Isolation:  Hard to feel part of the team and teamwork is an important part of getting work done.  You may lose some of the needed support to improve at your job.
  • Potential distractions:  You need to have your own personal work space without distractions.  When I worked from home I had to lock myself away from my wife and three kids.  Sometimes it meant cranking up the music so I could not hear the chaos that was going on upstairs. 
  • Need to be able to keep to your schedule:  Without someone watching over you it is easy to always put off working.  I had a made up my schedule based on what works best for me and I kept to it.
  • Family may become dependent on you always being at home:  You have to make sure work is also high on your priority list and gets done when it should.

Rewards

  • Save Money:  Do the math.  Every time you can walk downstairs to work instead of driving saves you time and money.  If you live in a large city the money saved on fuel costs plus wear and tear on your vehicle can be significant. 
  • You set your hours:  This will depend on your employer but in the ideal situation they will allow you to work whenever you can as long as you get your work done and are available during certain hours to solve emergencies.  This can allow you to get a lot more done during the week.  I created free time from work to take my daughter swimming, or to the zoo midweek. These places can be cheaper and less busy compared to weekends.
  • Time saved in a day:  I wrote a whole blog on just how much time you can free up in a week when you work from home (click here).
  • Mobility:  I never took my work on the road but I could have.  If you are careful or have understanding bosses you may be able to take your home office on location.  As long as you can stay focused there is no reason why you cannot do an office job from anywhere in the world.  I would have loved to try and take my work to Central America or Asia, but that just was not going happen in my work and family situation.
  • Lack of distractions:  6am on a Saturday morning may not be everyone’s favourite time to work but there are simply no regular distractions that occur in the office and work can get done much, much faster.  By setting your hours to non traditional times you can get your work done in a fraction of the time it takes in a busy office.

Every employee is different and everyone will have their own motives for working from home.  If you are comfortable in your current position and feel like you have gained trust from your employer than I would fully recommend taking the first step in seeing if your employer will allow you to work at home.

In the final installment in this series I will discuss getting away from salary based on hours worked and have employees pay strictly on work getting accomplished.

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