Whether you have to or you want to, working from home usually isn’t a perfect scenario. There are always going to be upsides and downsides, depending on your living situation, your personality, and where you’re at in your life. Not to mention things change quickly.
In this article, we walk through some of the key pros and cons of working from home so that you can work out how things weigh up for you.
The pros and cons of working from home can be hard to separate from one another. So, rather than coming up with two separate lists, we’ve paired them up.
First up, maybe the most straightforward benefit of working from home is that you don’t have to make the effort of getting to and from work each day. For many people, this can save from between an hour to two hours—not to mention the hundreds of dollars your rack up in transport fares in a year.
It’s nice not having to rush for the bus, but sometimes it’s tough working and living in the same place with no to find a definitive end to the workday.
If you live with your family, working from home will most likely give you the opportunity to spend some more time with your loved ones. This might mean spending the day with your spouse if they’re also working from home or getting to see the kids when they come home from school. It might also mean having an extra hour to meet a friend at the park for a quick bit of fitness.
On the flipside, a busy household often isn’t the best environment for productivity. This is particularly the case if you don’t have a designated (and secluded) place to work. Working in the kitchen with kids or housemates coming in and out is suboptimal. But even if you’ve got a study or a desk in your bedroom, the general noise of a full house can wear on your concentration.
Working from home is, in theory, the dream situation for you to hit your fitness goals. Removing the morning commute allows you to get in some running, yoga, or gym before you open the laptop.
But working from home also gives you the chance to take a quick exercise break at lunch or when a meeting finishes.
Well, isn’t this a contradiction? Yes and no.
The fact of the matter is that, for many people, getting to and from work is a reasonable chunk of their weekly exercise. That doesn’t mean everyone is cycling into the city. But jogging to catch a bus or walking from the train to your office is actually quite a valuable fitness baseline.
Of course, it’s a far cry from the government’s health guidelines of 2.5 to 5 hours per week of moderate physical exercise (unless you live a ways from the station and are habitually having to run to catch your train).
But given that many people find it hard to find the time to exercise, it can be useful being forced to get a little bit when going to and from work each day.
Sometimes, a work day can slip by if someone is stopping by your desk every five minutes, or if three different people suggest a coffee break during the day. The isolation of working alone at home can sometimes make people more efficient.
Of course, it depends on the person. No matter who you are, forcing yourself to work when alone requires discipline!
We often don’t think of work as being a place for socialisation. In fact, for many of us, it can appear to us to be the thing we do when we’re not socialising. But the social interaction we get from being in an office environment can play a critical part in our physical and mental wellbeing.
The science on this is pretty clear. Study after study has shown that having a network of social relationships that we interact with regularly can guard us against everything from depression to anxiety and heart attacks.
At work, in particular, getting positive social interaction from a strong network of colleagues has also been shown to improve employee satisfaction, boost productivity, and enhance collaboration.
Maybe the biggest issue that crops up in the work from home vs office debate is the question of a work-life balance. But unlike many of the other considerations we’ve looked at so far, the question of work-life balance can’t be easily categorised as either a pro or a con.
On the one hand, working from home may seem like a great way of leaning towards a better work-life balance—for many of the reasons we’ve already mentioned. Having more time and opportunity to see family, exercise, and socialise may mean that working from home makes your life more well-rounded.
But on the flip side, one of the essential aspects of a good work-life balance is having a clear division between the two. Working from home can blur the clarity of that division. For example, if your bedroom or kitchen is your office, it can be very hard to make your brain stop thinking about work when you are trying to relax in those places (it’s the same principle that causes doctors to tell us never to work from bed).
Whether you’re at home or at work, striking the balance is—well—a balancing act.
This is where virtual or hybrid offices come in. Virtual office pros and cons are really the same as all of those we’ve listed above. The only difference is that a virtual office gives you the flexibility to maximise the advantages of working from home while also getting the benefits of going to the office.
Maintaining a virtual office in a coworking office environment allows you to get out of the house, meet other professionals, and collaborate. But with a hybrid working arrangement, you can split your days between home and office, giving you more time to pick the kids up from school, have a hit of tennis, or unwind at your local.
It’s all up to you.