2 Big Reasons Working from Home is the Best  (& the Worst)

May 21, 2014 Renee Masur

The benefits and drawback of working from home

In the last few years of my undergrad, I spent every Sunday down at my town’s coffee shop, chipping away at my homework assignments for the week. It was the perfect place to get work done; there was an unlimited supply of coffee and the gentle murmur of people kept me buzzing with energy. This worked well for me because I liked being around people. The busyness kept me busy. 

For a lot of people, working from home feels like the dream gig. Not following the regular 9-5 schedule that others are tied to, missing rush hour, wearing pyjamas all day if it suits you. Everyone has their own working style. Could working from home be yours? Here are some a the major benefits (and drawbacks) of working from home. 

The Benefits

Saving Money 

Without a plan, it’s so easy to neglect making a lunch and just go grab something quick near the office. On average, Americans spend $10 on lunch twice a week—which ends up costing about $1000 annually. Being able to work from home means choosing food that’s already in your cupboards and saving some bucks. While I don’t always work from home, when I do, I like to cook. Since my kitchen has all the cookware that the office doesn’t I can get more creative with my meals… though I usually make a quick grilled cheese sandwich anyways. But I’d like to see the office microwave do THAT. 

Vehicle costs are cut way down as well when you aren’t driving to and from work every day. Less gas mileage, maintenance costs, and the satisfaction of cutting down on carbon emissions. 

As well, many of your home expenses can be tax write-offs. Ka-ching! 

Total Autonomy of Your Schedule 

Not everyone has an internal clock that runs on a 9-5 schedule. One of the biggest benefits to working from home is creating a schedule that works with your lifestyle. Sara Sutton Fell, the founder of FlexJobs, works from home and employs over 40+ staffers around the country. She says this is the best part of working from home. “You have more time for the important things in your life — family, friends, hobbies, health — because you have more control over when, where, and how you work every day. And the amount of time you’ll save by avoiding office distractions alone is fantastic!” For the early birds, night owls, moms and dads, your time working from home is all up to you. 

So what’s missing?

This all sounds pretty great — more cash dollars, healthier lifestyle, and total control over your work day. But there are two major caveats that make office life more appealing in it’s own right. 

The Drawbacks 

Need for High Self-Discipline 

There’s no structure when you’re by yourself, unless you make it. You need to have the discipline to tell yourself what are work hours and what are off hours. Our lead Scientist, Rhys Lewis, works from his home office seven days a week, and says it’s important to have an office space that is separate from the rest of the house, so that the line between work and home isn’t blurred. But when you work from home, there is no one physically there to talk to, which can sometimes feel quite lonely. 

Lack of Connection 

At Sokanu, most of us are able to swing our chairs around and get some help or brain pickings from our colleagues. There’s also the added benefit of impromptu brainstorm meetings and immediately sharing any in-the-moment successes. When some of us are away on business or working remotely, we like to stay in touch via Hipchat, a private IM network. When you work from home, it’s harder to have that sense of connection that comes from sharing a space with other people. 

Sutton doesn’t see this as a drawback; rather, it’s an opportunity for creative connecting. “Although I don’t feel like anything work-wise is missed by having meetings by phone or video chat, I like the human connection of being in each other’s presence. In order to overcome this on a regular basis, I make an effort to start and end calls with colleagues with some friendly banter, as we would in an office.” When they have a big “win” at work, it’s hard to celebrate together. So she makes sure her employees are treated to a dinner out to celebrate with loved ones. 

Once in a while, my house is the perfect place to work. I always make the coffee the way I like it and the grocery store is a block from my house. But I still prefer working from the office or a coffee shop. I need the immediate connection to people most of the time. It just happens to be my working style. What’s yours? 

About the Author

Renee Masur

Renee Masur is the Community Manager for Sokanu and Island girl living in Vancouver. She loves people and their stories.

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