Working from home comes with some major positives. Unless you have meetings that involve video, you can probably wear whatever you want. You also get to skip the commute and sleep later, and bad weather never impacts you.
It's a delightful lifestyle in many ways, but it's not for everyone. For some people, the downsides of working from home can outweigh the positives. It's important for anyone considering a work-from-home offer to fully understand what they are getting into.
1. It's lonely
I work from home -- really a mix of my couch, my den, and a succession of coffee shops. I have co-workers in a sense -- other Motley Fool writers and in-house editors -- but most of our contact is limited to Slack. Sometimes I go days without speaking to anyone but the doorman in my building, the barista at whatever coffee shop I work out of, and maybe a random stranger at our community pool.
I'm a social person, and there are times this is very difficult. It's hardest when something major happened the night before -- like the Super Bowl or a major news event -- as I have nobody to talk to over the water cooler.
2. It's easy to get distracted
After nearly five years of working from home, I'm pretty disciplined when it comes to getting work done. That, however, does not mean that it's always easy.
My cats are at my house, and they don't really understand the concept of a work day. The same is true for my Xbox and Kindle, and the pile of magazines I've been hoping to read. It's very easy to get distracted, whether it be by something fun or something more mundane like laundry.
3. Your family may take advantage
Your loved ones may not really understand that working at home is still working. Yes, you can open the door for the plumber, but you may not have time to do more than that. You also may not have time to drop people off at the airport or take them to doctors' appointments.
That won't stop people from asking. To those who work traditional jobs, working from home seems like endless freedom. They may not see how asking you to drop the dry cleaning off or take care of some other household task actually is the same imposition it would be on someone working from an office.
4. You're sort of always at work
My home is my office and my office is my home. Because of that, it's actually very hard to separate the two, and it's easy to get sucked back into work by an email or a Slack message.
In some ways I'm never at work -- and in others, I'm always there. That can create problems in my personal life, as there are times when my wife and son are home that they don't get my full attention.
Can you make it work?
For me, the flexibility of working from home trumps all of the negatives. I would like to be around people more, but I love that I can hit the pool or the beach most days just by shifting my hours around. I also like never having to get even mildly dressed up, and being able to swap a long couple of days or a weekend day for a random weekday off.
Before you make the leap to being an at-home worker, consider whether you can handle it. It's great for the people who can make it work, but it's certainly not for everyone.
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