These days, a growing number of companies are embracing the notion of flexible work arrangements, and that often means allowing employees to work from home. Though you can't usually work from home as, say, a teacher or physician, plenty of jobs can easily be done from the confines of one's living space. And as someone who works from a home office at present, I can tell you that there are many benefits in such an arrangement. Here's what my colleagues and I like about it the most.
The ability to be anywhere
Daniel B. Kline: Holding a regular job generally means going to a specific place and spending around eight hours a day there. As a full-time freelance worker, I'm not limited by location. I still work a 40- to 50-hour week, but I can do it wherever I want to.
Sometimes that means working 12-hour days so I can take a long weekend when my son has a day off from school. I've gotten up early and worked late so we can travel, visit theme parks, and go to events during the day. I've even worked seven-day weeks so I could free myself up to take a cruise where I had limited internet access.
As someone who works from home, I have no ties to any location. That meant I was able to leave the Northeast, where I had lived for my entire life, trading it in for the sunshine and never-ending good weather of West Palm Beach. Instead of shoveling and shivering, I get to swim most days. I might work from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m., then hit the beach or the pool. When the summer comes, I can take my son to visit relatives, travel overseas, or really go wherever the mood takes us.
I don't work any less hard. in fact, I may work more hours than I did in my traditional job, because I spend no time commuting and have no coworkers to distract me. I do, however, have a lot more fun -- because I can arrange my days to allow for travel to wherever something fun might be happening.
Selena Maranjian: I've been working from home for more than a decade now, and the biggest upside of doing so has been the flexibility. Yes, I have given up being able to socialize at the office, and I miss out on Pizza Fridays, but I can structure my schedule pretty much however I want it. Of course, my work still needs to get done, and I do have some deadlines to meet, but if I have a dental appointment in the middle of the day, I don't have to get docked for time out of the office to make it to the appointment.
Working from home often means you can plug away all night, and sleep or play during the day, if your body is wired to want that. It means getting to take a three-hour nap in the middle of each day, if that's what you need. It means you can work fewer hours per day over seven days, instead of only having five work days -- if that's best for you. In some cases you need to stick to a rigid daytime schedule when working from home, but often, you get more flexibility.
Jobs where you work from home are also great if you're caring for kids or elderly parents. If you have many days with play dates or lessons or doctor's appointments, you can accommodate those needs while working around them. The main downside to such flexibility is that you need the discipline to make sure your work does get done. One way to deal with that is to have and stick to a schedule as well as you can.
Maurie Backman: Some people can get their jobs done in the noisiest of environments. I'm not one of them. As a writer who's also responsible for editing my work, I need quiet while I'm plugging away. Otherwise, I'm more likely to make mistakes and work less efficiently.
That's just one of the many reasons I'm grateful to get to work from home. Being alone while I'm writing means I don't have to worry about accidentally typing the words someone around me is saying. It also means I won't lose my train of thought because an otherwise well-meaning coworker comes running over to chat.
Of course, the flip side is that I don't get the same coworker interaction as those who work in an office. But to be honest, it's a worthwhile trade-off, because it allows me to be better at my job. Besides, when I want to see how a colleague is doing, I simply send that person a quick note; just like that, I'm back in the loop. So you could say working from home really gives me the best of both worlds.