Thursday, August 1, 2013

Working at Home - Does it Suit Everyone?

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While there are tens of thousands of people who work at home, it doesn't suit everyone.

There is a distinct difference from working at home and working from home. Dozens of trades people who have their own businesses in a utility truck work from home. They maintain a home office and drive from place to place doing their valuable work. Others, like me, work at home (or sometimes from other places when travelling).

Whether you can work at home is largely connected to the type of work you do. If you are a bookkeeper, medical practitioner whose surgery is adjoined to the house, or a business communication consultant like me, home-based work can be much easier and less expensive.

While there are many advantages in working at home, there are as many disadvantages. Here are a few that come to mind:

Advantages


  1. You can work when you like, choosing your own hours and levels of productivity
  2. There are fewer costs in travelling to and from a workplace, having a work uniform or work clothes ... you can wear anything (or nothing!)
  3. You can write off for tax purposes the cost of a home office, part of your electricity, water and associated utilities costs
  4. If you are a parent with children, you can save child care costs
  5. When you have lunch, you eat at home and not at a cafe with associated costs
  6. You need not double up on technology eg, the scanner you use at home can also be used for work

Disadvantages

  1. If you have trouble focusing and being self-directed, it can impede your productivity
  2. Being close to the refrigerator and eating better lunches than you would have taken to work can add on unwanted kilograms
  3. There can be distractions with spouses, children, animals, television shows, and other things at home that are not at work
  4. It can be very lonely ... you miss the social interaction with other work colleagues
  5. Paying for your own heating, cooling and other additional utilities costs might reduce your net profit
  6. If clients visit you at home, you need to maintain a professional image and no distractions from kids, home phones, television noise etc
I'm sure you could write numerous other advantages and disadvantages that come to mind, as I could, but I don't want to write a 60 item list.

Clearly, working at home doesn't suit everyone because of our many and varied needs and circumstances. And the CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer doesn't want her employees to "telecommute", which is business speak for letting employees work from and at home.

Telecommuting raises a whole different set of questions, mostly related to duty of care, productivity and how the latter is measured and reported. When I was asked to consider telecommuting for an Australian Government agency, the key factor against it was maintaining security of classified documentation in houses. Instead of the agency's secure documents being held in one secure facility, they would have been distributed across the city increasing the risk of a security breach.

Traditional work at homers like me are responsible for our own productivity and profit or loss. Thus, we can make our venture a success or a failure and at worst, we face the prospect of not earning sufficient to pay our regular living expenses.

Executive Search consultant, Heather McGregor, in an article in the UK Guardian earlier this year is of the opinion that:
"... the future will include working from home by almost everyone, even if they have to build the foundation of their ability to do so in the office."
I think that if Heather is correct it will be a long way into the future. What do you think? Will be become a nation of piece workers beavering away on outsourced work activities?

Robin

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous7:26 AM

    For many, the biggest challenge for working at home is what to do. If you have a marketable skills, you can work with those skills. If not, you need to find something to sell and that's not easy because everyone is selling things online these days.

    Thanks for this good article.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice information sharing

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for your feedback raks123 and Jacubai ... much appreciated.

    ReplyDelete

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