The Pros and Cons of Working from Home on the Internet
Almost two years passed since I quit my job inside a multinational company to work from home on the Internet. For me it was pretty a straight forward move. One year inside a corporation was enough to clarify what I wanted to do professionally, and working for someone else was definitely not part of it.
Another aspect that facilitate the transition was the fact that I was 22 when I decided to quit; meaning no bills to pay or responsibilities that extended beyond “staying alive.”
Now I am sure that there are many people out there wondering if they would like to work from home. Others already know they would love to, but they are not sure about the downsides, or how to make the switch. For those, I think it would be interesting to share what I learned along these two years.
On this first post I will cover what I think are the Pros and Cons of working from home on the web, and on a future one I will cover how you can plan a smooth transition.
1. It’s lonely
If you need social interaction through out the day, then working from home might not be ideal to you. There are people that just need to have others around at any given time; that need face to face communication, and for those a corporation might be a better fit.
Instant messaging clients, Twitter and social networks might help people to overcome this problem, but we all know that they are far from the real deal.
2. Many distractions
If you live alone this should not be a problem. If you live with your parents, friends or wife and kids, however, be prepared to get interrupted more often than not. Other people have a hard time to conceptualize that you are actually working when you are at home on your computer. As a result, they will knock on your door or call you even for the smallest of the issues.
Creating an ad-hoc room in your house that will serve as office can help, but it will hardly eliminate the problem.
3. It requires discipline
I sure love what I do, but I won’t deny that sometimes it is difficult to stay focused on the computer when there is a beautiful sunshine outside. Luckily I knocked off the habit of playing computer games years ago, else my productivity would probably be suffering from that as well.
If you are a disciplined person then you might not face any problems. If you need to have a boss or colleagues around to motivate you, however, it might become an issue.
4. Always the same place
One of the advantages of working in a company is that you have a physical separation between your house and your work. I believe this separation is healthy in many ways.
First of all it allows your body and mind to associate the office with work, and your house with leisure and relaxation. Sometimes I find myself going to sleep while thinking obsessively about my websites and overall online business strategy. Not cool.
It can also get very monotonous if you need to stay in your home all day long. Going to a nearby Starbucks can alleviate the problem, but it won’t solve it.
Once you start prospering you could rent or buy an external office, but then you would risk going back to the frenetic corporate rhythm.
5. Difficult to explain what you do
Good luck explaining to other people or relatives what your job is. Whenever I get asked about my job I just say that I “work with websites.” Personally I consider myself to be a web publisher or web entrepreneur, but it would be complex to explain this to someone that only uses the Internet to check his Hotmail account and to search in Google once in a while.
Obviously I couldn’t care less if people understand what I do or if they don’t, but some people care about those things. Additionally, sometimes it can become a real life issue.
Suppose you want to get financing to buy a house, for instance. It will be difficult to get credit if you work on the Internet with no fixed monthly salary or a company to back you up.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of working from home is the flexibility that comes attached to it. Just a small example: I forgot what the felling of waking up with an alarm clock is a long time ago.
You can work any time you want, and in any way you want.
Like to work in pajamas? Fine. Like to listen to heavy metal in the highest volume while you design? Go for it.
Some people are more productive at night as well, and for those working from home must be a paradise.
2. No boss
Frankly, getting told by someone else what you should or should not do is unbearable.
For me at least.
The reduced levels of stress that you get by not having someone barking at you once in a while is gold. Sure, there must be companies out there with nice corporate cultures where people are friendly, smart and caring. Truth be told my old boss was a really cool guy.
Still, there is nothing like doing what you want, when you want, because you want it.
3. It is healthier
I always loved sports, and practiced one or another discipline since I was ten. When I started working after university, however, I suddenly saw a drop in my training sessions. I tried to move them to the night, but after a work day your energy levels are far from optimal.
Now that I work from home I have time to train every day. Some mornings I run, other afternoons I hit the gym, and others yet I swim. I am definitely in my best shape ever.
Another factor that contributes to your health when you work from home is your diet. If you know the basics of nutrition science you should be able to have a very balanced diet. You can time your meals perfectly, and you buy the recipes and cook them, so you know what is entering your body.
The same cannot be said when working inside a company. You don’t have time to make your meals (remember you should have at least six of them in a day!) and you often need to eat whatever fried crap they are serving at the nearby bar.
4. More family time
There is a point in the life of all of us where our family become our anchor and main priority. I am not talking about your parents, but rather about when you move outside with a wife or husband, and when you get kids around.
I am not there yet, but I am sure that people that work from home value immensely the extra time that they have to spend with their loved ones. As a dad or mom you will also be in a much better position to educate and take care of your children if you are around all day long.
5. Work from anywhere
I am finishing this very article as I sit in an airport. I am taking a plane to the northern part of Brazil. It is winter here, and the south (where I currently live) becomes very cold. Since I am not a fan of cold weather at all, I decided to spend June in a tropical beach.
The advantage here goes beyond taking holidays once in a while. You could literally move to the
other side of the world if you so desire. When I quit my job I was still living in Italy. Now I am back in Brazil because I wanted to stay some time with my family and friends. Next year I am planning to move to the U.S. or Canada to attend some conferences and meet with the people that I interact over the web.
Having the possibility to live in the country or city of your choice is awesome.
My real opinion
I tried to be unbiased while covering the points above. If I need to lay down my honest opinion, however, it would be quite in favor of working from home. I believe that the pros far out weight the cons.
In fact, I also think that over the next years a smaller and smaller percentage of the young people and graduates will head to work for companies and corporations. If today this number is close to 95%, perhaps in ten years it will be down to 70% or so.
Finally, if you are still considering if you should quit your job or not, my advice is: go for it.
It takes guts and some planning depending on your situation, but the feeling of freedom you will get once you get walking with your own legs is priceless.
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73 Responses to “The Pros and Cons of Working from Home on the Internet”
What you need is a garden office. For more details, have a browse around the Shedworking site at http://www.shedworking.co.uk for independent advice and lots of interesting suggestions.
I am a home transcriptionist for the past five years and you have spoken my mind here.
The distraction apart from home members include the doorbell (I get at least five buzzes a day from those marketing folks), phone bell, all those neighborhood noises, guests etc., the list goes on….Still I love working from home, sweet home. I save the commuting time to office, no stop lights, no traffic. My bedroom itself is my office; when you are up – you are in the office, when you lie down, you are at the comfort of your home….
But to choose a home career, it took a year for me to decide working on these pros and cons and at last when I chose it, I am really leading a life I dreamt of.
I wish i could quit my job someday and work from home like you Daniel. What i am thinking is to work from home as a blogger but at the same time doing another business as the owner..mmh..that’s my dream..:)
We save lots of $ because I don’t use the car & burn up gas. And I don’t have biz expenses like coffee, etc. (And maintenance of a biz female wardrobe except for special occasions.) Does get lonely at times. And I have a tendency to get housebound & not go out. It does help me to juggle everything on my plate. I can also get a bit manic and just sit at the keyboard for hours at a time until I am really beat. I can work in a tshirt & jeans or a yakata (cotton Japanese robe) even! I feel guilty I am not doing housework, tho.
It’s good to hear about others who are doing the same thing. No one I know is….
Great Post! I have been working at home now for about 8 months now after I resigned from my corporate position in a health care company. I am totally happy now, this doesn’t mean there are some cons and hard times trying to get used to it. For sure the pros definetly out weigh the cons for me!
Was going to write a similar article to this and then came across this.
Love working from home !!!! I think I liked it more than my wife. It’s a situation I can control and mold to fit…
Actually, there are groups that work-at-home types can join, they’re called “coworking” groups. Check it out on Google, there are groups in every major metropolitan area, and it’s a great way to both reduce loneliness and make new connections. In fact, sometimes it takes away work time since you’re so busy talking to people…
Nice post! I prefer to work outside because I enjoy belonging to a real community. Working outside I make friends.
Working from home is a brave thing to do. I’ve been contemplating that since I started doing freelance work on the side a year ago, but being used to receiving my pay twice monthly and having IT support and HR at my beck and call, the idea of going indie scares the hell out of me. Maybe when my freelance portfolio has grown immensely, I’d probably consider it. Hats off to you for this decision. I don’t think I could be as brave, and I’m almost 30!
P.S. My sister, who now works from home (I actually got her started on it), goes on vacation and still manages to get her work done. Amazing!
I wouldn’t mind doing whatever I want, whenever I want, because I want.
Although I’m still a student, this is definitely something to think about for the future.
Great post. One big bonus for me was not having the commute on the train and then Underground where you’re packed in like sardines and in the summer almost fainting from the heat! Now I’ve no dodgy work colleagues and feeling the need to stay late is purely my choice 🙂
I work more hours than ever but it’s all for me and when I feel like a break I take one, simple as that. The TV never puts me off because of the rubbish that’s on there! I miss the interaction now and again but twitter is great and if I need some contact I just drop in to my old firm or see my family.
Can’t say I’ve the funds to join you on the beach but my freedom far out weighs the extra cash I used to get.
I worked for myself for 8 months, and loved it! Unfortunately the business I was doing failed and so I now find myself having to work for others in a dead end marketing job… its killing me having to answer to someone else, especially when I know they are wrong.
However I am starting to slowly set up another business and hope to join you in the ranks of the 20 something self empolyed soon…. wish me luck!
David Zemens – 1955 Design
It does indeed require discipline. I have noticed that the day seems to fly by, and unless you budget your time quite directly you find that the day is “over” and you have accomplished very little —- so I agree that distractions can be a problem.
Once the money starts to come in, however, it’s easy toi see how it is indeed a “real job”. It takes time, patience, and hard work.
It also helps to be independantly wealthy, or at least be comfortable with another income source! 🙂
In my country, Vietnam, when people talk about a JOB, they talk about going to work (office), and they feel more comfortable with a “real job”, with a company name, a job title, a desk, and with their “real” colleagues.
I agree with you in this post!
I am currently a student, but am earning very well online.
I have 2 years left of studying, I believe that once I have finished my course, I will be earning enough to live very comfortably on.
I would love to work from home. I am not cut out for working in an office, and yet I’ve done it for many years.
Working from home is definitely my goal. Unfortunately, I am still stuck to my 9 to 5 job in the corporate world (actually I am at work right now :)). Seeing your article, I have to agree that the pros out weight the cons and hopefully soon my part time internet job will take off and I will take off from this place!
Web Success Diva
This is such a great post. Many of my colleagues and friends envy me working at home, but you’ve hit the head on the nail. It’s not all fun, glam, and freedom — there can be downsides 🙂
When I left the corporate world, I tried working from home, but it just didn’t work, there were too many temptations and distractions. I went out and found a small office not far from my home, it solves most of the problems you have listed, but I still have the option from working where I want. I share the office with someone else that is doing something similar to me, but I don’t have any requirements to be there, if I didn’t show up for a month it wouldn’t’ make any difference.
I have to admit sometimes i do feel a bit loney and anti social and i only do this part time!
i do not think i could do this as a full time job, i feel too alone 😀
There are some good Pro’s about working from home though, which far outweigh the cons.
Part time is good enough for me,
Internet Business Ideas
The problem with pros and cons it that it is different for different people. Some people need the boss, and some people are loners that love to stay at home and see the same four walls every day, some need the structure and feeling of security in a daily job.
Although I agree with your pros I disagree with some of you cons, because what made start the search for a home business in the first place is the idea of staying at home everyday.
Internet home business ideas
Hi! I work as a freelance editor and writer in New Delhi, and believe me, I have personal experience of the pros and cons of the work-at-home situation in spades. I had to start freelancing when I became redundant in 2002, took time off in 2005 to study publishing and am now freelancing while looking for a corporate job. Why? Because I would like a regular, steady income–I have to pay off loans and I would like to get some management-related experience under my belt. There’s little or no opportunity to lead a team or manage people if you work on your own from home–this could be a problem at some point of time. There’s also the problem of payments–Indian publishers tend to be parsimonious at best and you cannot chase clients through a small-claims court–in fact, the legal system is so schlerotic, you may as well write off unpaid bills as bad debts. And as your own boss, you don’t often give yourself time off easily–I tend to work over the weekend if I really want to get a project finished.
I think it’s better to work at home
more pros than cons
that’s the new era workers
I’ve been working at home since my son was born over two years ago, and I agree with most of your points–but we should stipulate that these are true FOR YOU and not necessarily for everyone.
I’m not yet convinced that I eat any healthier at home, where I have access to food three steps from the office all day long (and yes, I do have in my house–GASP–junk food!).
On the rare occasion that I forgot to bring a lunch to work (making a lunch at home takes the same amount of time whether you work there or not, really), I usually got a salad. You can make healthy choices–and unhealthy ones–no matter where you work.
This is a very motivational post. I’m only 23 myself, but I already feel stuck in my position due to bills. I would love the opportunity to be able to work from home on the internet full time. This post helps me to believe it is possible and I’m excited about your future post on making the smooth transition. Thanks!
Ali from The Office Diet
Oh Daniel, you’re making me so jealous now!
I too am in my early 20s (23) and I know now would be the best time to make the jump out of the corporate world. I’m trying to be in a position to do that soon … building up freelance web things (website creation and writing) on the side.
You’re definitely an inspiration, both in the articles you write and in the lifestyle you lead. 🙂 Well done on making your dream a reality, and on being brave enough to follow your heart.
Great post Daniel. You have covered most of the bases here about working from home. I am already working for a few companies as a consultant that actually promote working from home. Their are many benefits from the employer side as well.
The Blogger Tips
Although there are cons, but the pros more important, atleast you own a freedom. This is very valuable pros item that most people chase for it.
I have to agree with you when you say that the pros far out the cons, but in my case I’m still studying. maybe when I graduate I will try to make a living working in the internet.
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