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The Partnered Pen

Work and Career

Ugly Truths About Working From Home

While there are numerous benefits to working remotely, the potential negatives are often glossed over.

Photo by Alexey Suslyakov on Unsplash

There is no point arguing that the internet has changed the way we live our lives. From how we communicate with family, friends, and even strangers around the world, to the way we date and meet new people, it has left an unprecedented degree of change in its wake.

The internet has not only revolutionized our interpersonal lives and how we consume news and entertainment, but it is also changing how we work. In many professions, you no longer have to be confined to four walls of an office to be at work.

At an increasing rate, employers are allowing their staff to work remotely and have more flexibility in their schedules.

A 2016 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics calculated that 22% of American employees work from home. That number is expected to double by 2026, and likely to move into a majority territory by the middle of the century.

Work-life balance is not just a ‘fade’ term, employers are seeing massive benefits from it. Indeed, a 2018 survey conducted by Flex Strategy Group in the United States showed that 60% of workers felt happier, more engaged, and highly productive when they were given flexibility around how and when they work. The same survey also found that 55% of employees with workplace flexibility called in sick much less frequently than workers in a static job.

Employers are becoming more aware that happy and motivated employees mean a higher output of work. It also lessens overtime costs and decreases the amount of physical space a company requires. The output and health benefits from working at home are becoming harder for many companies to ignore.

It’s not just employers who are using technology to give workers more flexibility, online entrepreneurship is a booming sector. It is estimated that online entrepreneurship contributes $200 billion to the American economy annually.

The financial opportunities that the internet offers have given rise to workers who make their living from freelancing, online retail, blogging, vlogging, or as social media influencers. The cyberworld gives people the potential of tapping into a multi-billion dollar industry without having to leave their own homes.

Working from home has a great deal of appeal, particularly if you are your own boss. For workers who feel trapped in the grind of a 9 to 5 office job, the idea of working from their own home office is highly appealing. While there are numerous benefits to working remotely, the potential negatives are often glossed over.

Social isolation

A survey conducted by Morneau Shepell Ltd. found that 40% of remote workers they interviewed experienced feelings of extreme social isolation resulting from working at home. Of those, 11% stated they wished to return to a more static work environment.

Static jobs have strong social aspects that are difficult, if not impossible to replicate working alone at home. Even if you don’t have close friendships with your co-workers, a traditional office setting has frequent interpersonal interaction. The shared experience of working for the same employer creates an environment that is unique to that setting which no one outside of it can fully understand.

Working at a traditional job outside of the home generally involves interacting with people of diverse backgrounds and points of view which you may lack in other spheres of your life. Additionally, as we lead busier lives, work has increasingly become a way of meeting new people for both romantic and platonic relationships.

Working at home typically limits your interaction to one person — yourself.

Even if you’re communicating with clients or coworkers via phone or email, it does not provide the social atmosphere of a regular work environment. For some, being alone for hours on end with no one to ‘talk shop’ with, or unwind on a break with can be challenging, even for those with a strong introverted personality.

Distraction

One of the benefits of working from home means that your office is within a few steps of your bed. If you decide to start working at 9 am, you could get out of bed at 8:59 am and still be early.

The reality is that being surrounded by your personal life opens you up to constant and very tempting distractions. In an office environment, when you become frustrated or need a break, you can usually get up and take a quick walk or grab a coffee from the lunchroom. At home, if you get up from your desk you’re surrounded by your life — your TV, your books, your music collection, your treadmill, etc. You are reminded of all the other non-work related things you could be doing, and it is hard to ignore them.

On top of that, family and friends may assume you’re not busy because you’re at home. They may have trouble understanding that although you’re home, you’re still working. This can open you to frequent disruptions — maybe your child is playing too loud, your spouse wants to know if you’ve seen their phone, your dog wants to play, etc.

Working from home requires iron concentration.

You have to try and not give in to the lure of your personal life, particularly at times of stress or frustration when work is the last thing you want to do.

You can’t leave work at work

When you work in an office from 9 to 5, you can look forward to decompressing at home once the workday is done. Although modern technology means we’re never more than a text or email away from the office, home is still viewed as a sanctuary.

When you work remotely, you live at the office. This can present a challenge in trying to unwind after you’ve called it a day. Yes, the occasional after work text or email from the boss can be annoying, but seeing your desk from the couch makes it hard to fully distance yourself from work-related stress.

Working from your home can make it impossible to fully detach yourself from work after hours.

This not only places additional stress on you, but it also has the potential of causing strain on your relationships at home.

Ironically, while working from home can help your work-life balance, there is a possibility that it will have the opposite effect.

While there is no doubt that working remotely has many benefits for many people, it is not all rainbows and sunshine. After the initial euphoria wears off, some find the negatives can outweigh the positives in the long run.

If you’re considering working from home, do your research. Talk to people who are or have done it, and make sure they are giving you an unfiltered description, warts and all.

Going into any new work situation requires reflection, weighing the pros and cons, and understanding the full picture.

The three negatives listed above may affect you or you may find ways to cope with them.

Working from home is still work. Only when you’re fully informed of the pros and cons, will be you be able to make the decisions that will allow you to thrive wherever your work location.

Daryl Bruce is a freelance writer, blogger, and writer of flash fiction. Writing across an expansive range of topics, he specializes in personal development, the craft of writing, LGBTQ+ issues, and politics. He is the owner of the Top 3 Publication on Medium. When he’s not writing, Daryl can be found in the kitchen or at the local movie theater. Daryl holds a BA with Specialized Honours in English from York University and is currently working on his first novel.

Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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