I will never work in an office again. I don’t care what the job is or how much money they offer me. I refuse. It is not going to happen.
For the last five years, I’ve worked from home every day.
My morning and evening commute lasts about 10 seconds. Less time wasted sitting on busy streets driving to (and from) the office means more time I can spend engaged with work. Or my family. Or in some cases, both at the same time.
Is working from home right for you? It could be.
The Pros and Cons of Working From Home
I love working from home, but it won’t be suitable for everyone. Let’s look at some pros and cons of working from your home.
No commute. This is my favorite pro. I always hated sitting in traffic, and remote work lets me eliminate that giant waste of time. According to the U.S. Census, Americans spend about 28 minutes on a one-way commute, or nearly an hour a day. That’s a lot!
No cube farms. I haven’t met a single person who enjoys working in a cubicle environment. It’s drab. Cubes offer almost no privacy. And, you can easily overhear other coworkers talking as you’re trying to work, which can be pretty distracting.
More flexible schedules. Remote work lets me take care of non-job-related things easier than working in an office. This includes going to appointments or taking care of things around the house. Note that you will need to carefully manage your schedule because this pro can quickly become a con (especially for your employer) if you spend too much time away from your computer during working hours.
Time spent with family. Working from home means that you are around your family more, and for most of us, that’s a good thing! However, be sure to set boundaries with your family so they know when you’re supposed to be working. Distractions can quickly turn into a con.
Healthier eating habits. If you’re home, you probably have healthy foods available. When I worked in an office, I was tempted to grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant to get out of the office. Eating at home will always be healthier than restaurants.
Less social interaction. If you like chatting with your coworkers throughout the day, working from home will naturally stop that. You might have chatting software on your computer to keep in touch, but that differs from face-to-face interactions with coworkers.
Communication is more complicated. Though email and chatting systems like Slack are available to make communication easier, working outside of the office will probably make it more difficult to discuss problems or get help.
Less work/home separation. When you work from home, it’s impossible not to take your work home with you. If you are not careful, you might glance at your work computer or check your email because your office is right there.
Unproductive work environment. Some homes won’t have the right space to turn into a home office. Maybe all rooms are being used. Perhaps the kitchen table or a closet are the only places to set up shop, which are certainly not ideal.
Less daily structure. If you are the type of person who needs a structured routine during the day, working from home might be too “loosey-goosey” for you. The flexibility to completely control your day could become a problem unless it’s carefully managed with discipline.
To work from home, you’ll need a few things in place. First, a working space where you feel productive is essential. You will also need an Internet connection that is fast and reliable. Video-based calls throughout the day are standard, and video communication takes a lot of online bandwidth.
Lastly, you will need a job where it’s conducive to working from home. Not all jobs will be suitable for this type of work arrangement, but more companies are embracing remote work than ever before.
Design the Perfect Home Office
One of the reasons why working from home has worked so well for me is my home office. I designed it well, though it took some trial and error. My office is quiet and separate from the main areas of the home, making it a peaceful place to work.
Here are a few tips for designing a home office that works well for you.
Use a dedicated room. Whenever possible, use a separate room in your house. That room’s sole purpose is to be your office. The problem with using the kitchen table or a high-traffic room is distractions throughout the day. And, these areas don’t tend to feel like you’re working in a proper office. That can negatively affect your productivity during the day.
Comfortable chair. Perhaps the most crucial factor in a home office is the chair. You might be sitting in that chair for hours, so make sure it’s good. Invest in a nice chair with lumbar support. Spending the extra money on a quality desk chair will be worth it.
Include natural light. The best home office spaces have at least one window to allow natural light during the day. Natural light is far better than artificial lighting. Psychologically, it makes us happier and more efficient.
Greenery. If you can find plants or small indoor trees for your office, those will help your office to feel comfortable. Plants help to clean the air in the room. Be sure to use low-maintenance plants as much as possible, so you’re not spending too much time maintaining them!
Storage. Organization is vital inside your home office. Use storage features like filing cabinets or even wall-mounted shelves to keep things neat and tidy. Desktop bins and cubbies for items like pens, pencils, and paperclips can help keep your desk spick and span.
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Steve Adcock is an early retiree who writes about mental toughness, financial independence and how to get the most out of your life and career. As a regular contributor to The Ladders, CBS MarketWatch and CNBC, Adcock maintains a rare and exclusive voice as a career expert, consistently offering actionable counseling to thousands of readers who want to level-up their lives, careers, and freedom. Adcock's main areas of coverage include money, personal finance, lifestyle, and digital nomad advice. Steve lives in a 100% off-grid solar home in the middle of the Arizona desert and writes on his own website at SteveAdcock.us.