I’ve been fortunate enough to work from my home office for the past six years. My commute is about twelve steps, or, occasionally, a 45-minute drive to the nearest airport. It may not be for everyone, but I think that more employers should let their workers take advantage of an arrangement like this.
Since I have been doing this for so long, I have quite an efficient set up. A former bedroom now serves as my office. A corner desk is big enough for two computers along with multiple monitors. I have my books, a nice printer, and a comfortable chair. Since my kitchen is close by, I can have a hot nutritious lunch without going out to a restaurant.
Two aspects of my workspace really stand out for me. First, it’s so quiet. In the typical space for IT staff, what I like to call ‘the sea of cubes,’ workers are interrupted constantly and often must listen to the scores of conversations around them. The second benefit is lighting. At least in my experience, the harsh lighting in many workplaces causes headaches and fatigue. I can control the light in my own home office so that I’m comfortable.
In addition to having a great space to work in, I am also thrilled that I don’t have to make my way to an office in the city every day as I did for fifteen years. For part of that time, I was able to take public transportation, but it still meant two or more hours per day on the road, and often longer during the winter months when the roads are sometimes covered with ice or snow. For a while, I wondered what I was doing with the two hours I gained every day after switching to remote work. I finally decided that it must be extra time sleeping. During my commuting years, I usually managed to get just four or five hours of sleep per night but now I am closer to the recommended seven or eight hours.
One problem with home offices for many people is interruptions by family members. It’s important that your spouse and children understand that you are working, just as if you were out of the house. You are not available for running errands, mowing the lawn, or performing housework during that time. If your job is flexible, as mine is, you can work some of those things in, but you will be spending more time in the evening and weekends at your desk to make up for it.
There are so many benefits to working from home for workers, even if it’s just a couple of days per week, but do they actually get anything done? Is ‘working from home’ just a codeword for taking an extra day off? It does take someone who is self-directed and motivated to be successful.
There are many benefits to remote work, but it takes the right person and circumstances to be successful at it. Do you work remotely at least one day per week? Tell us about your experience in the comments.