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Working from Home

By Anonymous October 12, 2008 - 9:30am
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The gas prices are rising dramatically and there is the option to work from home. Some businesses have even offered four 10 hour days to try and cut down on the gas expenses to and from work. How do you feel about the option to work from home or even a four day week? If so, what are the pros and cons about working from home?

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Years ago, I ran the WFH (Work from Home) channel for one of the largest online communities and it gave those of us who did work from home an opportunity to interact with other professionals, entrepreneurs and small business owners. We could also discuss any issues pertaining to the telecommuter/WFH life.

I miss working from home, having done so for around a dozen years before taking on my current contract. Having been with a couple of major software companies that considered telecommute a way of life, and an Internet startup where all the teams were remote, it was great to be able to manage my schedule on my own terms. It also made a lot of sense to telecommute, since I had teams in different time zones and it would have been ridiculous trying to work out getting into the office for a conference that could more easily and conveniently be done via our internal chat room. These days, I waste time commuting that could otherwise be more productive.

As the technology improved, my colleagues and I dealt with the sense of isolation by getting together to work from a nearby coffee house where we could get wifi and breakfast. That was a blast. Oddly enough, now that we're all commuting to different client sites, we're feeling a sense of separation from the "real world," lol!

WFH is ideal for working moms with young children. For one thing, you don't have to worry about who's caring for your little ones when they get sick.

But, as has already been said, WFH isn't for everyone.

October 13, 2008 - 4:51pm
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As Diane said - working from home suits a certain kind of person and I am one of them.

I'm not one for chit-chatting by the water cooler (although I used to enjoy it in my younger days!) or the coffee area at work - I like to get in, get the work done - and leave.

At home, I don't have office politics, gossip or meetings that needlessly go on forever!

My social life is good, I have a small but great social network, friends, activities and nights out. Many people I know depend on their workplace for their social life (Friday night drinks, Pampered Chef parties etc) and I always think that's a bit dangerous because without their job, they'd be quite lonely.

If you are disciplined, determined, talented and motivated, it's great to work from home. No commute, no time wasted in cars, no childcare expenses, no gasoline used and no lunches out and work wardrobes to worry about. I always wanted to be at home with my children while they are young - I get to be a full time parent - who also works. I haven't missed a minute of their fun little lives!

The downside is that people think you are bumming around a bit and less disciplined and you get less respect from some people. If only they knew the time wasted at work, chatting with co-workers, checking personal emails and Ebay, and smoke breaks and long lunches!

Every day I shower in the morning, fix myself up and keep an organized home - all of these motivate ME to take myself seriously! And others will follow.

The downsides - household bills are higher too when you work from home- air conditioning in the summer - heat in the winter, as well as electricity, and it all runs all day long. All the utilities that the office pays - the person who works at home pays. It's important to check into what is tax deductible.

My children are usually sleeping, or some are at preschool or with my husband when I work, but on the occasions I am working and dealing with 3 kids under 5 - yeah, that's when a work environment is a DREAM!

October 13, 2008 - 1:07pm

Alison said it well. To work at home sometimes seems like a luxury (especially when the weather's bad, and you can have something simmering on the stove for dinner, and don't have to worry about traffic) and sometimes seems like a confinement (less social interaction, more probability that you think you should be doing laundry WHILE you're doing your work).

I think working four days a week instead of five days a week is nice, but there's one big downside as far as the actual work goes: You get only four fresh starts instead of five. You know that feeling you have in the morning when you first sit down, fresh and with a cup of coffee, to tackle work? When you have a day ahead of you to plan and anything seems possible? It's nice to have five of those fresh starts in one week. When you work four days a week, what you do is lengthen each day, which means you are lengthening that time in the afternoon when you're a little tired, a little stressed, a little wilted and concerned with finishing work. And if you're in a business where it's important to place or return phone calls, that always seems to work better in the mornings than in the afternoons.

I think working at home is most suited to people who don't tend to get distracted, who can motivate themselves, and who find it easy to get social interaction elsewhere. If you tend to lose focus, or if you identify with the people in your office and you like the activity there, you may be happier continuing to work there than at home.

October 13, 2008 - 8:43am

Since I've done both, here has been my experience:

- Working from home is best if others in the company/organization are also working from home, and there is a company policy (read: support) for this arrangement.
- It is easy to feel left out or have co-workers resent your situation, if you are the only one working from home. Also, trying to be the only one on a conference call at home, with everyone else in the same room, is very difficult!

The pros are fairly obvious, from saving money on gas and clothes, being able to work in your own environment without disrupting others (with your pet on your lap, controlled temperature, radio on, sleeping baby in the crib next to you or breast feeding, in your PJs, etc). You are saving the company overhead, which is a plus for them (office equipment, electricity, phone, office space..although there should be an arrangement that they reimburse you for these expenses at your house). Also, if you can work from home, many people can work from anywhere, including the library or coffee shop, for a change of scenery.

The cons for me were lack of social opportunities with co-workers, not feeling included in office decisions. Your influence is lessened at work. The stigma that you are not working as hard as others who are in the office.

A pro and con: not being invited to as many meetings (most of us would agree this is a good thing, but less face-time can mean you are overlooked for promotions).

Another pro and con: working closer to family. It takes a strong person to be able to set work vs. home boundaries for themselves. "Alone time" is even more important, if you are seeing your family 24/7. My husband works from home, and he literally leaves from his home office through the front door, walks around the block to "transition" from work to family time, and then "comes home".

There are so many different situations with working from home or working 4 days a week (this is my ideal option, but never had the opportunity to try it)

October 12, 2008 - 2:10pm
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