A Guide to the Work at Home Decision

Working from home is no longer a luxury afforded to a select few. Instead, the home office is a reality for millions of Americans. Advances in technology and a cultural shift in priorities have led to an environment where working from home is not only logistically attainable for many, but also widely accepted.

However, when determining whether operating a business from the comfort of your house is right for you, one should consider several factors. While the advantages may outweigh the downside for many, working from home may not be the right choice for some for a variety of reasons. Careful attention should be given to all of these considerations.

Advantages of Operating an at Home Business

  1. Financial Savings There is no guarantee that working from home will translate into cost savings, but most of those who opt against a traditional office environment when starting a business realize at least some financial benefit. After all, commercial office space can be expensive. Particularly in larger metropolitan areas, the rent for a clean, presentable office can be astronomical. But, aside from physical space, your average person who works from home enjoys savings in other ways too. For example, if you’re at home all day, chances are you’ll hit the fridge to find lunch rather spending money on expensive restaurant meals. 
  2. Avoiding a Commute Depending on where you live, the commute to a traditional office job could be the worst part of your day. Traffic in major metropolitan areas can make traveling a few short miles an hour-long process. And these days, with pervasive budget cuts plaguing local and state governments, population growth typically outpaces infrastructure improvements, so traffic woes and road rage can impact even those living in smaller communities. Generally, around rush hour, the stress levels among people working from home are much lower on average than motorists battling road rage. In addition, avoiding a commute to work saves on gas, which may be particularly compelling for modern drivers who watch fuel costs rise on an almost daily basis. 
  3. Comfort It may sound insignificant to some, but people working from home routinely report the freedom to roll out of bed un-showered and start the day’s work as one of the biggest advantages of their employment situation. For many, toiling away in an environment that’s free from formal social structures allows them to concentrate on their work instead of arguably trivial things like how they look or what they’re wearing. 
  4. Flexibility Working from home often affords people with the flexibility to plan their day around their personal schedules, including family responsibilities. Not having someone dictate the details of your day makes for an appealing lifestyle for many. 
  5. Productivity Some studies suggest that individuals working from home have higher productivity rates than their counterparts working in traditional office environments. Perhaps that could be attributed to at home workers’ ability to avoid long, wasted commuting time. Perhaps it can be attributed to the fact that many entrepreneurs working from home are motivated by an intense desire to succeed. Or maybe removing the social component of a traditional work environment allows at home workers to more easily focus on work. Regardless of the exact reason, it appears that the conditions of working from home can promote productivity.

Disadvantages of Operating an at Home Business

  1. Distractions Unless you have a remarkable ability to concentrate in the face of routine distractions, working from home could be difficult for you. The lure of household amenities like the television can make focusing on work impossible for some. Add to that the increased potential for disturbances from family members when you’re working from home, and it becomes clear that focusing on work while at home can present significant challenges. 
  2. Social Isolation Because the freedom and flexibility that comes with working at home is so compelling for many folks, the possibility of social isolation usually isn’t a consideration…until it becomes a reality. In fact, one of the biggest complaints reported by people working out of their homes is loneliness. Particularly if you thrive on social interaction and need the assurance and support of a team, starting a business and working solo from home may not be the right choice for you. On the other hand, many people who work from home aren’t chained to their desks and regularly have opportunities to venture out of the house for events or client meetings. 
  3. Inability to Set Boundaries Some of the same reasons people love working from home can create problems for you if you’re not careful. Because working from home does allow you to roll out of bed and immediately be available to clients, the lines between your work life and your home life may begin to blur. Many people who operate home offices say they feel like they never have a day off and that clients’ expectations about when they should be available is unrealistic. Therefore, you must set boundaries for yourself and allow yourself to be unavailable sometimes, even though you may still technically be at the “office.”

Jack Simms is a home mortgage researcher for LeadStep.com’s Mortgage Rate Finder website. Prior to his research work for LeadSteps, Jack was a real estate professional providing marketing and branding services to realtors throughout northern California. Jack’s passion in providing research for LeadSteps’ Local Mortgage Rates website stems from his belief that home ownership is one of the great decisions one makes in life, and should be a well informed decision.