So you want to work at home?

A 2010 picture of me on a Friday when I was a freelancer. Thanks Mathieu Chartier.
A picture of me in 2010 when I was a entrepreneur http://j.mp/11zneMu

I don’t know why, but I have something with blog post series. I have tips and tricks for people, show me your book, Fred’s tees, HTML5 challenges, and now, so you want to series… This one is all about giving some food for thought on some of the questions or comments I usually have. I started this series with the Evangelist role, and I’ll continue with working at home, as it’s quite often a topic people want to talk about.

Firstly, let me tell you one thing: working at home doesn’t mean you can do everything you want. In theory, you can, but you’ll have to live with the consequences. Usually, the jobs that give you the opportunity to do so are based on a trust relationship between you, and your employer. There are some pros, and cons, like with anything, that you need to keep in mind. Let me give you some of those based on my own experience. It has been mostly 5 years now that I don’t have to go work in an office: 1 when I was working for IBI Solutions, 1 when I was a freelancer, and more than 2 as a Microsoft employee. Since the beginning, I saw the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The good

  • Saving time: if everything goes wrong between my bed, and my office, it can take me up to 5 minutes. If I compare this to the 1 hour of drive in traffic or public transit I had to do before, I can save up to 9 hours per week. It’s a lot of time.
  • No lunches: I can eat whatever I want as I don’t have to prepare stuff the evening before, so it’s easier for me to eat healthier as I had the bad habit to go to restaurants instead of bringing a lunch with me.
  • Flexibility: depends on your job, you may not have to be in front of the computer from 8:00 to 17:00 so that mean you can easily go to the dentist, be there for the delivery of a package… At the end, the important thing is to be sure to do what you have to do at the end of the day (week) if you take some time for personal things during the day.
  • Productivity: don’t get me wrong, I like people, but it’s a lot easier to be productive when nobody can interrupt you at any time.

The bad

  • Productivity: you really need to be responsible as distractions are everywhere. A full day of work can easily disappear with many things you can do at home. You’ll tell me that Facebook, and Cie can do the same at work, but you need a lot more discipline at home as your boss won’t be there to watch you. I need to say that a couple of years ago, it was not easy. Now with experience, and a couple of tips, and tricks, it’s working perfectly.
  • Co-workers: I said in the good, that you can be more productive because there is less interruption, but on the other side, you won’t see your co-worker too much. For someone like me, who like people, but also who consider most co-workers as friends, it’s no easy task. Let’s just say that you need to cherish the moment you are all together! Some people may argue that it’s not that easy to work remotely, but if you have the right tools, and work with people who are used to work remotely, it’s not a problem.
  • Physical health: by working at home, I do a lot less exercises. That may seem ridiculous, but trust me, you walk a lot less, and you can feel it at some point. The trick here is to try to stay active in other parts of your life, like going to the gym.
  • Psychological health: since you woke up in your house, work in your house, eat in your house, relax in your house, and sleep in your house, you are always in your house. At some point, you’ll need to go out. So put some stuff in the evening in your calendar, just so you can get out of your home, and see some people.
  • Flexibility: I said it’s a good thing as you save some time, but it’s also a trap you can fall into. Since you are not at the office, I hear some people that had the impression they were doing not enough like people at the office, so they worked a lot more. Also, you need to have a separate room for your office, so you can cut from work, and personal stuff. Even with this, it’s easy to sneak in, and finish a project at 9pm, because the work is at 1 minute of walk.

The ugly

  • Personally I think there is no ugly part of working at home. Of course, you can make it ugly, but even with the bad part I listed above, nothing you can change, and make it an advantage. I would say that with the experience, all the bad points I listed, aren’t bad anymore for me.

There are also a lot of benefits for the employer. It will save cost with furnitures, office space… The employee will also produce more as he will work when he’ll really be productive. The work/life balance is also really important, so saving a couple of hours per week is not something to neglect. Last, but not least, with everything put together, there is a lot of chances that the employee will be more than happy. Of course, I said it before, it will work only, and only if there is a trust relationship between both parts, and this won’t work if your manager is the kind of manager who like to micromanage.

So at the end, that may or may not be for you. Some people can’t work at home, some others can’t go back full time in an office (like me!). If you want to work from home, there may be a way for you to get it done. Do you see any other good, bad or ugly points that I missed? Would you like to work from home? What is your plan to make it happen? Are you working from home? Share your thoughts!

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