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The 4 Hidden Problems With Working From Home

By Daniel B. Kline - Dec 31, 2017 at 12:19PM

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It may seem like a dream come true, but it has its drawbacks.

When you're sitting in traffic or waiting for public transportation in the bitter cold, blazing heat, or miserable rain, working from home seems awfully appealing.

Not having to waste time getting to the office effectively makes your day longer. That gives you more time for family, friends, hobbies, and anything else you might want to do. It also takes away stress and in many cases saves you money on clothes.

Working from home has many huge advantages, but it also has some hidden drawbacks. Yes, not having to go anywhere and being able to work in your pajamas from your couch can be wonderful, but it's not for everyone.

A man works on his laptop sitting on a couch.

Working from home is not for everyone. Image source: Getty Images.

It's lonely

As a work-from-home contract writer for The Motley Fool, I don't go into an office, nor do I have many meetings, phone calls, or even reasons to talk with other people. We do have a Slack message board, and there are sometimes spirited discussions there, but on many days I have no reason to speak out loud.

Though I often work from coffee shops or a shared work space, I don't have co-workers in those locations. That can be very lonely, especially when you have something you really want to talk about.

That leads to days when my wife, who has spent her day in an office, arrives home wanting nothing but peace and quiet and I want nothing more than to talk. She has had all sorts of interaction with human beings through her job, and I'm starving for conversation.

People at the office forget about you

If some people work in the office and others telecommute, those who aren't physically present can be forgotten. That may not be fair, but it's a simple reality. The people in the office have causal interactions and impromptu meetings that a remote worker won't get to be part of.

This isn't a huge problem if the boss is a remote worker, but in offices with an in-house boss and some, but not all remote staff, telecommuters can be forgotten. They can also lose out on promotions and sometimes just be excluded because they're not there.

People assume you are always free

Not every negative about being a remote worker comes from the office. Your family and friends can also create problems that make your supposedly dream setup not as perfect as you hoped.

Since I work from home, it's generally assumed that I'm available. Sometimes that's an advantage. I can be home for contractors or when my son gets sick and misses school. In other cases, it can be a hassle as I'm often forced to explain why I can't pick someone up at the airport or why it's not ideal when my 13-year-old has two weeks off for Christmas.

Having flexibility is great, but being forced to use that flexibility when you don't want to is not. If I choose to get up super early to work in order to see a movie or go to the beach in the afternoon, that's delightful, but having to do that because someone else presumes a favor is something else entirely.

Distractions are right there

If your at-home job comes with regular hours, then it can be easier to focus. When you get paid based on production, the fact that your laundry, Xbox, and other distractions may be in your home can be a big problem.

Being home makes it easier to do things around the house. I cook dinner most nights and do a lot more laundry than I used to. Those are positive things in my personal life, but they aren't work accomplishments.

Know what you are in for

Working from home has been a huge benefit to my lifestyle. I'm home when my son gets back from school, and on most days I have time to exercise, take a swim, or even go to the beach. I rarely use my car most weekdays, and I can count the times I've worn clothes nicer than shorts and a T-shirt this year on two hands.

Despite those positives, there still are challenges. I often hunger for human interaction, and I miss the in-between moments you get in an office (like chatting before a meeting or on the way to grab a cup of coffee). Still, not having to go to an office can be delightful as long as you know what you're getting into.

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