My Year In Review: Working from Home

Five things I love about working from home cover.001As the year comes to an end and I am reflecting on what worked and what didn’t in 2015, what I’ll do differently next year and what will remain. I kept coming back to working from home, as something that is a real privilege and has so many benefits. So I thought I’d put together a list of the pros and cons of working from home. If you are considering working from home, this list might help you decide.

It’s mostly pros, but I don’t want to get all Pollyanna on you. 

Pros

Commute

I do not miss waiting around in crowded train stations

1. No commute. Often when running the kids up to school, I’ll hear the traffic alerts and the train delays, I am so grateful that I am in my car and I’m five minutes from home and I don’t have to deal with that stress.

2. Being available for my family. It’s a tough gig, trying to manage kids and a career, the ‘mother-guilt’ is inevitable for most of us. But working from home helps alleviate this (to some degree) because, while my (nearly) three year old is in day care, my two older children go to school and then I pick them up at the end of their day. So it’s one less thing to feel guilty about. My oldest used to go to after school care, we didn’t have a choice, and that is the reality for most families. But she hated it. And every week she used to ask ‘do I have to go today?’. It used to kill me. So now, it’s one less thing to worry about.

3. My kitchen. My kitchen is just the other side of the wall. So I can make soup for lunch if that’s what I feel like. Or cook an egg, or make a salad. Sandwiches have always been my go-to packed lunch, but my body doesn’t like a lot of bread and so now I have the freedom to prepare what I feel like eating, right when I’m ready to eat. Same goes for my coffee, and tea. Being charged $4.50 for a coffee annoys me. And I get to have my coffee exactly the way I like it.

4. Savings! I mentioned the commute, so there is a saving attached to that, but also I’m no longer forking out for a corporate wardrobe. Some days, especially when it’s cold, I’ll work in track suit pants and slippers (which you would never see me in, in a public place). So I save money on my commute, money on those pricey coffees, and money on business attire – which I don’t particularly like anyway.

Yoga woman

Me, at yoga

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Ok, so this is probably a little more like me…

5. Flexibility. I love that I can go to my 10.30 yoga class on a Tuesday, if I want to. One thing I’ve struggled with while having small children is making time for physical exercise. When I’ve got kidlets round my ankles 24/7 I don’t much feel like going to the gym at 7.30 when the kids are going to bed. In fact, I’m usually ready for bed then too! But being able to nip out for an hour to do a class is one of THE best benefits.

 

Cons

As I said, I wasn’t going to get all Pollyanna and ‘my life is so wonderful’ on you, so here are some of the downsides.

1. No commute. This comes in as one of the big benefits, but there is also a lot to be said for 45 minutes on your own with no interruptions. Time to meditate, read, reflect, look out the window and watch the world go by. So, while I love that I don’t have to travel to work, it was the one time where I could sit and read without thinking that I should be doing something else.

2. You still have to do everything you do when you don’t work. So I still need to take the kids to school, and pick them up. Put a load of washing on, peg it out, organise dinner, cook dinner and do a day’s work in between. Of the three days that I work, one of those is for someone else (the other two are my freelance days), on that day where I work for someone else, those things don’t get done, because it’s only the commute that I don’t have. Some days I can be nearly demented with all the things that I need to organise, and still meet my deadline.

3. You never really leave work. So I can close my laptop and walk away, but it still blinks at me, and often after the kids are in bed and my husband and I have an opportunity for some normal adult conversation, I’ll pull out my lap top just to finish an email, or a paragraph that I was writing, and then I’ve lost my evening to work. So you need to be very disciplined about when you work, and why you work at those times.

As with everything, there are good and bad, but if you’re considering trying to negotiate a work day from home, do your best to swing it, because it can make an enormous positive difference to your life. First and foremost it will help you feel like you have some control over your life (some aspects, at least). Especially if you have kids, it’s a great way to be able to have a career and still be around.

Do you work from home? Is there anything you love or hate about it?

Comments

  1. says

    Spot on here about the pros and cons, and I also think not commuting is both! I enjoyed the sense of ‘going out’ to work, of arriving in the city and feeling a sense of entitlement to buy expensive coffee or a magazine as a ‘treat’ for working. And I miss that a bit, as well as being amongst people all day to get inspired. But at the same time, I’m so glad I don’t have to get up and spend an hour getting ready and heading out in the cold and rain. I can be at my desk at 7am. Really interesting debate, especially when there seems to be the rise of rented ‘hubs’ for freelancers? Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂

    • collette says

      Yes, sometimes I think I’d quite like to go into one of those shared spaces for freelancers, when my kids are driving me crazy or I’m feeling a bit isolated, but I don’t think I ever would, as it would just defeat the purpose. I guess there’s always a trade off! : )

  2. The Life of Clare says

    Agree 100%. I think it’d be so tough trying to fit all the regular house stuff into a working out of home day! And exercise is a tough one.

    • collette says

      It is tough Clare, but by not being there you’re off the hook in a way. Ultimately, there is always a compromise if you have kids and work (or want to work). Finding the right balance is a challenge, but I think working takes some of the chaos out of it.

  3. says

    Since having my children I’ve always been simply a stay at home mum rather than a ‘work from home mum’ but I do relate to your comment about never really leaving work. Sometimes I think it would be nice to have employment out of the home because I miss that division of home/workplace, that ‘right I’m home now. I can kick back and relax’ feeling. And working out of the home would give me an environment that belonged just to me. In reality, though, I think, on balance, I would always prefer the home environment for all the ‘pros’ you have mentioned. With kids, the flexibility would be excellent.

    • collette says

      I agree Carolyn, when I was at home full time with my kids I missed that division. And while working (albeit from home) provides that division, the lines are still blurred. But the pros definitely outweigh the cons. Thanks for reading.

  4. says

    I work from home and my biggest thing is the lack of conversation and people to bounce ideas off. I led a fairly large team before becoming mum, so I was constantly interacting and solving problems. I think when the kids are older, I will probably head back to the city, just for that. But I do love the flexibility – even if it feels like I try to squeeze 12 hours work into 6!

    • collette says

      I agree, I miss that interaction to. I feel like it will be so long before I can go back to the office environment as my youngest is not yet three. The 3.30 school pick up is so hard to manage within a normal work day, so working from home is one way to get around it. The flexibility is the best part I think.

What are you thoughts?