Many people admire writers because they get to work from home. It seems like the perfect way to maintain a work-life balance and I have looked upon them with great envy for many years. But is it really living the life of luxury?
During covid times, so many have had no choice but to set up their offices in spare rooms or on kitchen tables. The question is – what are the pros and cons of working from home?
Thinking about becoming a full time blogger and writer, one aspect of that work that appeals to me is the ability to work from home. There have been times over the last year when I have been able to do some of my work from home and many of my closest friends have stopped commuting to London during the pandemic, adapting their work practices to suit a different setting. For all of us it has definitely been an eye opener, making us realise that having a work place within your house changes just about every aspect of your life.
Working from home during the pandemic has been a good way of reducing the amount of mixing that people do. Zoom has acted as a conduit between colleagues and hosted thousands of meetings which would otherwise have been face-to-face, in the same room. Work conferences abroad have been replaced by meetings online and the reductions in the use of transport have no doubt had a positive effect on the environment.
Technology has had to adapt to meet the needs of home workers who have had to spend extended periods performing their usual tasks using nothing but a laptop or iPad and a printer. Even social aspects of work have had to change, with people hosting online pub quizzes and dinner parties remotely.
The environmental benefits of home working speak for themselves. Reductions in the use of cars, trains, buses and aeroplanes means much less pollution. Cleaner air in cities is also a spin-off, especially appreciated after reports that levels of air pollution in cities have become damaging to health and can lead to affected lungs and breathing problems.
Working at home can mean more time to do other things. Not having to drive for an hour or so each day or spend hours frustrated on the long commute to London, could have a great impact on you. One of my friends finds more time for exercise while I myself found extra opportunities to read books, something which I personally find incredibly satisfying. Some merely get a bit of extra rest, setting their alarms that little bit later. Although I do know one person who often gets up so late that he finds himself with no time to get properly ready and has had to do a few early morning meetings in his boxer shorts.
The Down Side
From the people I have spoken to there are some common aspects of working from home which are grinding them down a bit and they feel that their mental health is suffering because of these. I found some of these things irritating but each person has to weigh up the positives and negatives of this new way of working.
Being at home all the time can make it very difficult to separate the workplace from the family home. You can easily get confused between the two, distracted by children, the TV in the other room, daytime deliveries from parcel firms and just the general temptation to take five minutes for a drink in the garden or a quick game on a console.
Having a set workspace to travel to can be a motivating factor and many people use the journey to work to prepare themselves for the day ahead. Leaving work at work is commonly described as one of the major pros related to working in an actual office or at a specific workplace. Similarly, those who used to walk or cycle for part of their journey may often spend less time doing physical exercise as a result of working from home.
One of my friends finds himself working much longer as he finds it hard to know when to switch off. It’s quite distracting knowing there is another task to perform and the temptation can be to just switch the laptop on for another half an hour. This can then detract from your family time and others in your house can get upset and feel as though you’re neglecting them a bit.
To add to this, having enough space has been a big deal, particularly during lockdowns. Having children in the living room or a spouse running an office in another room, puts demands on space and also creates additional noise. When the internet is down, meetings get disturbed or downloading files is dragged out, especially when lots of people are sharing the wifi.
Quite honestly, the office can be a busy place but houses can be even more distracting. Pets often pop up and peruse the room during a meeting or do their business on your paperwork. How often are you watching someone on Zoom trying to subtly shoe away a cat or dog? Offices definitely have fewer animals, unless you’re a vet.
Summary of Positives
– Great for the environment
– Reduces tiring travel time
– Enables you to organise your time more flexibly
– Zoom can make meetings quicker and more efficient
Summary of Negatives
– Can cause conflict in the home
– Much less sociable
– Less travel can mean fewer opportunities for exercise
– Easy to be distracted from work
– Losing motivation is more likely
So basically, with some experience of home working myself and being surrounded by people who have been doing it for extended periods, my own preference is a mixture of the two. There is a great freedom in working from home but nothing beats the social aspect of working with others, in a set aside workplace. What are your thoughts on the matter?
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