There is no doubt that working from home is a dream come true for many people, but having done so on and off for several years, I speak from personal experience about the not-so-great realities of working in your pyjamas.
So before you start turning your spare room into an office and handing in your resignation, take these things into account.
1. You have no one to learn from
One of the great things about working in an office — well, an office where you’re surrounded by brilliant minds — is that you are always learning. And not just learning about your specialist area, but about all areas of business. From management and marketing to politics and pop culture, you’ll be amazed at the range of things you’ll learn even just in water-cooler conversation.
When you’re at home, even if you are naturally very inquisitive, you’ll find yourself being very restricted to just learning more about the industry and work you personally do, and are missing out on a more holistic work experience.
2. It’s a Lonely World
You can take for granted just how nice it is to have people to say hello to in the morning or head out for a coffee with on a whim. You might think that when you work from home you’ll have all the free time in the world where you can catch up with friends for lunch in the middle of the day — but in reality, most of them are probably working the ol’ nine to five or have things they need to do.
Going long periods without interacting with people can make you a bit crazy after a while and can severely affect your interpersonal skills. (I knew it was time to get out when I caught myself having ‘conversations’ with the cat…)
3. No one to Bounce Ideas off
Brainstorming and idea generation is a crucial part of any successful venture, particularly when you work in a creative industry. Sometimes just talking something through with a colleague can inspire ideas that you would never have come up with before.
At home, you don’t have the benefit of this interaction and your work can suffer as a result.
4. Time is Money
Let’s be honest — we work to make money (and if you love what you do, bonus!). One of the key benefits of working full-time is that you have paid holidays and other benefits, which you simply don’t have when you work for yourself. Having a ‘meh’ day? You can have a few of those when you work full-time, and you’ll still earn the same amount of money at the end of the day. At home, that’s a day’s pay gone down the drain.
While freelancers charge significantly higher hourly rates to compensate for this, you often don’t know when the next pay cheque is going to come through — so can you afford to take a sick day?
5. Say Goodbye to Weekends
While many people see working from home as the ultimate in personal freedom, it can in fact work in quite the opposite way — it ties you down even more. If you work in an office, you arrive at 9am, say goodbye at 5.30pm (in an ideal world) and you are allowed to switch off for the evening. You even get two days off at the end of the week where you can do literally NOTHING.
There’s no time off when you’re freelancing or working from home. Even if you try to set yourself limits, it’s just too tempting to keep on working. This goes hand-in-hand with the fourth point — that your time is money. You’ll find yourself working significantly more hours than you would in a 9-5.
For me personally, I would feel an incredible amount of guilt if I was lazing around on a Sunday – because I knew I could be making money instead. It’s an unhealthy mental state to be in.
Of course there are positives — there can be incredible moments of accomplishment, and it really does push you to your limits in many ways. And like a wise man (my dad) always said: ‘You’ll never get rich working for someone else!’.
Are your experiences of working from home the same as mine?