Waking up without an alarm, enjoying a hot cup of coffee in your pajamas, answering emails from bed, and going shopping in the middle of the day. To a traditional 9-5 worker, the freelancing life sounds like living the dream. And it can be…for the right person.
I’ve previously discussed the five cons of working from home. But because I believe there are more positives than negatives to the freelancing lifestyle, here are the six biggest pros of working from home.
1) No commute
The average worker commutes 25.4 minutes each day.
Throughout my working career, I’ve had commutes as short as two minutes and as long as one hour. I can safely say that no matter how short the commute, I never enjoyed it. This is especially true during winters in Northern Illinois when the roads are terrible and it’s pitch dark at 5 pm.
Personally, I’d rather spend the time I’d be commuting sleeping in, working a bit more and relaxing with my family.
Not needing to commute saves time and money. I spend less on gas, less on vehicle maintenance, and less on impulse Starbucks purchases (or McDonald’s breakfasts!) on the way to work.
2) Better work/life balance
Work/life balance can be your best friend or greatest enemy when you’re a freelancer. People with workaholic tendencies may find themselves working at all hours while those who are on the low-motivation end of the spectrum may have a hard time working at all. It’s best to have the type of personality where you like to work, but it does not consume your life. That way you’re able to balance your day and stop working when it gets late.
Prior to working from home, I had to squeeze in all of my household duties after 5 pm on weekdays or on the weekends. This made for Saturdays full of bathroom cleaning, shopping, laundry, and yard work.
Working from home has allowed me to mix the stay-at-home mom duties with working mom duties and not feel like I have to spend my evenings and weekends getting everything done. I run loads of laundry, exercise, or wash dishes during downtime. Sometimes if I’m stuck on a particular task, I take a break to do a puzzle with my daughter or pick up some of her toys. After 30 minutes, I find that I’m ready to tackle the task with fresh eyes.
I also find time to take my daughter to the museum, park, or mom’s group activities during the mid-morning before getting back to work in the afternoon. My schedule is largely dependent on my preferences and I can make time for what I think is important.
3) Less missed work for sickness
Everyone has those days when you’re not necessarily sick, but you don’t feel great. You don’t want to get up, shower, get ready and head to work. In a traditional office, you may have to decide whether to go in for part of the day or take a sick day.
When you work from home, you can work even when you are not feeling your best. Assuming you don’t have any video calls, you can stay in your pajamas and work from the couch with a mug of hot tea.
I’ve worked through early pregnancy nausea, colds that would have had everyone in my office telling me to go home, and general malaise. I took it easy, but was still able to get work done and no one was the wiser. This past winter I had a six week bout of bronchitis that made me very glad I was working from home. Coworkers would have been frustrated by how sick I was and how long I had a disgusting cough. Instead, almost no one had to deal with my sickness except my daughter, who miraculously did not catch it.
4) Comfortable work space and access to your stuff
Some offices have strict policies on what you can have in your space. Certain things may be off limits due to safety concerns, such as space heaters or fans, while other personal items may not be appreciated by your boss. Although some people are able to work while wearing a blanket or hoodie in the winter or in a tank top and shorts in the summer, many offices have dress codes that don’t allow those things.
Working from home allows you to be comfortable at all times. You control your office set-up. If you’re most comfortable working out of your bed, you can do that! Or you can work from an ergonomically correct desk and chair. It’s also wonderful to have access to all of your creature comforts.
Sometimes I’m freezing and want to work in a robe or leave a heating pad on my legs all day. I can work in jeans or pajamas and no one cares.
Should I want a snack, I have access to my kitchen. I can cook myself a healthy meal or meet a friend for lunch at a restaurant. Every month or so, Norah and I meet Mike for lunch and spend some time together during the day.
Besides being physically comfortable, working from home allows you to have some psychological or emotional comforts as well. If I’m having a tough day, I can take a break. All forms of entertainment are here. Sometimes this can work against me because I get distracted and want to watch HGTV all day, but most of the time it’s a nice perk that I use in moderation.
5) Less “in-person” stress and distractions
It’s hard for introverts to be around people all day. Even without direct interaction, it can be stressful and distracting to work in an open office plan and overhear conversations.
I am an introvert. I like being around people for short spans of time, but eight hours of interaction drains me. I tend to get very nervous when I’m in an in-person meeting or having a face-to-face conversation with someone. I do much better with phone calls or email because they give me a little more time to think of my response and don’t let my expressive face give away my emotions.
Although I still have to meet with people in-person occasionally, it is far less often than when I worked in an office environment where tons of interaction happened every day. I find that I feel less stressed out, even when I have a lot of work to do or am receiving aggressive emails, then when I have to deal with someone in-person.
6) Self-directed days
For the motivated individual, self-directed days are probably one of the biggest pros of working from home. For the most part, you are in control of how your day pans out. Unlike an office environment where you have no control over interruptions, announcements, or other issues, your home office should be mostly under your control.
You can decide when to start and stop work for the day. You can decide how much time you’re going to spend on one activity. You can listen to music at a high volume, dance around the room between sending emails, or take a quick walk around the neighborhood while you wait for a client’s response.
This pro only works for those who are self-motivated. Some personalities will find it hard to work from home because there’s not as much accountability as a formal office environment. At home, you don’t have to worry about closing your Buzzfeed window because your boss is walking around so you might end up wasting a lot of time not working. If you thrived in college, setting goals for yourself and reaching them, you would do well working from home. If you needed other people to push you, working from home may not be the best fit.
I’ve been working from home since 2014 and I can’t see myself going back to a traditional office environment again. For me, the pros outweigh the cons. This lifestyle can seem great to those on the outside who have to punch the clock each day, but it has its stresses. For people with self-directed, organized personalities working from home is not only doable but incredibly rewarding.