I have mentioned how often the journey of a digital nomad begins with setting up shop in the comfort of your home first. My nomadic career certainly started that way. It might sound boring and dull, but there is a truth about working from home that any digital nomad will carry with them wherever they might find themselves on the map.
Scratch that. I should say “truths” instead of “a truth.” In my years of being a digital nomad, I often look back at the first tentative steps I made towards being a remote worker who set up a home office. During those first few years, I discovered so many pros of working from home which allowed me to go at it with much determination. However, there were admittedly some downsides to it, as well. So today, I will list five benefits and five disadvantages for working from home – just to be fair about it all (lest I be accused of overselling the idea of remote employment).
You won’t need to deal with daily traffic and commute
As petty and shallow as it may sound, this was the answer I usually came up with whenever someone asked me “why work from home?” Back when I was employed at a company several towns away, I had to get up early in the morning to beat the traffic, fall into long queues for buses and trains, and generally endure rush hour traffic and the crush of people wanting to get back to the warmth of their own homes at the end of the day.
Today, I can choose not to leave the warmth of my own home while working! It is as simple as that. I do not miss the traffic and the stressful commute, and certainly not the noise and smokiness of the daily grind.
You can get to choose your clients
When I was an employee, I had to be part of a team with a designated set of tasks to accomplish so as to complete a project. I often had to deal with angry clients who didn’t want to be bothered to know the kind of system we put in place. Since I was the one who often talked to these clients, I also bore the brunt of our clients’ anger (and willful ignorance).
Today, I can sit down and have a preliminary talk with potential clients before choosing to take on their projects. I make sure we are on the same page for each step of the project, and that specific measures are in place, so we are both protected for the duration of the contract. If something seems iffy from the start, I decline to work with the person or establishment. It’s less stressful that way in the long run.
You can spend more time with loved ones
One of my favorite pros of working from home is that I can get to visit my family and friends more often. This was in stark contrast to just seeing them only occasionally because I would be too tired going to and from work to drop in regularly. Since I also do not have a rigid schedule to follow, I can grab a quick brunch with my friends or mom whenever they invite me, and spend some quality time with them without worrying about skiving off work. I can always rearrange my schedule to fit some much-needed bonding time with those I care about.
I also have girlfriends who are WAHMs (work at home moms) who choose to do telecommuting jobs because they can watch over their kids, and be more proactive in raising them while earning an income.
You can structure your work and personal schedules
Perhaps one of the most significant advantages to working from home is being able to work towards a real work-life balance. Since my work routine is no longer tied to a rigid daily schedule, I have more freedom to explore the kind of structure that works best for me. I can choose to work early in the morning, in the mid-day, or even in the evenings – just as long as I meet my deadlines and still expect a steady stream of income in the process.
I also discovered that I have more time to focus on my health. I can pause work for a bit to exercise or meditate, and can also prepare my own food according to my nutritional needs (as opposed to just grabbing what is the most convenient at the time).
You can create your own work environment
When I found myself no longer confined to a sad grey cubicle, I realized how happy I was to either work from my home office, or bring my laptop to co-working spaces, coffee shops, and even parks and the beach! I would occasionally feel cabin fever from hours of sitting down and typing away, but knowing that a quick change of scenery is just a few steps away immediately cheers me up.
You could easily get distracted
I confess to often getting distracted while working from home or in public places. Your senses aren’t as dulled as they would be in a flat-lit office space, but outdoors and indoors, they are all alive. I would be tempted to clean up the mess I made in the kitchen yesterday, or wouldn’t be able to resist cuddling up to my cat when he begs for my attention. And I often catch myself people (or dog, or cloud) watching when I’m at the park or sitting by the window of my favorite cafe.
There might be employment gaps
One of the biggest cons of working from home is finding work in-between projects. Once a client is satisfied and wraps up a project, there is usually a mad scramble to secure another contract to keep me afloat. These gaps don’t often happen, though – but whenever they do, I fully admit to feeling stressed about it.
To help keep me financially solvent, I go to GPT and survey sites to perform tasks, like the ones with ZoomBucks (a personal fave). There are many extremely doable tasks to complete in exchange for cash or gift cards which I can use to augment my freelance income.
You could slide into unhealthy habits
A couple of paragraphs up, I mentioned being able to focus on my health when I started working from home. However, there are also bad days. Some projects are stressful, so I find myself calling for a pizza or fast food delivery and munching on that for a couple of meals. I also sometimes neglect to work out or even take regular showers when deadlines are looming. So if you aren’t careful or disciplined, you might just find yourself sliding down the slippery slope of ill health and slovenliness fast.
You will need to file your own documents
In a company set up, someone at the HR or the accounting department files important papers on my behalf (for taxation, HMO, and whatnot). Today, I need to do all of that on my own. Granted, these things are now digital for convenience, but I still need to sacrifice a significant chunk of my schedule to ensure that I have everything officially updated, paid for, and filed accordingly.
There may be long stretches of being solitary
It can get admittedly lonely working from home (or elsewhere), though for the most part, solitude is a welcome change of pace. I certainly don’t miss the empty office chatter and gossiping of my past work setup. This is why whenever I feel a bit lonesome and get cabin fever, I send messages to people I love and ask if they would want to meet up and chat for a bit. That always seems to work well.
So those are my pros and cons to working from home. There are more, to be honest. However, those are the ones I usually ask my friends to consider before they take the plunge into remote work or even a digital nomad lifestyle. If you have more pros and cons to add, I would love to hear all about them!