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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83 Responses to “The Pros and Cons of Working from Home on the Internet”
I wish I could go back to 22 years old and start pounding away on the computer. Working for someone else is lame but I think many people under estimate the cost and responsiblity involved in “running the show”.
It also depends on the type of job your wanting to pursue..
Great post. It’s very helpfull.
I’d like to work from home, but I’m not in USA. So, I can’t work easily from here as I’m from Middle-East (EGYPT).
Thanks alot for these great points.
Hola!! yo espero poder trabajar desde casa en unos meses, si lo consigo, ya vere como es, espero que no sea muy incomodo!
Your post is indeed very helpful. I liked the way you expressed yourself,simplicity is important (at least for me :)). And you are very convincing at each point, not leaving anything incomplete. You’ve got your style.
I’m about to start my blog in a matter of weeks,and am surfing the web here and there to find out how experienced people in the field lives with it.
And for those who have responsibilities (specially children) I suggest that proper time management is a must. I’ve got to focus on this since I’ve loads of leisure activities and don’t want to miss any of them.
I believe if you manage to get indulge in some sports or recreational activities from time to time can drive away your loneliness.
I really appreciate you share your experiences, keep it up!
There’s a difference between working at home and working for yourself at home. If you work for a company but not in an office, then you have less freedom setting your own schedule. Still, it beats commuting and dressing up for the office any day! I find that working at home one or two days a week is an ideal balance.
Having been self-employed and mostly home-based for more than 20 years, I leaped on the opportunities presented by the internet more than a decade ago. I have been pretty much fully web-based in my income producing ventures since 1996, and would never consider anything brick and mortar related again!
The internet lets you work, live, and play whenever and where ever you want, as long as I can snag the net a few hours a week. For the first time ever, just about anyone can start a business with very little investment and very little overhead. Home based businesses are springing up globally – age and economics are suddenly minimal barriers to the entrepreneur.
If you have a true desire to succeed in your own business, and the work ethic – it can be done!
Melody, aka The Netlady
Work At Home Ideas For Women – From A Real Work At Home Woman!
I would rather chose working at home instead at the office. 😀 I don’t care with the cons as long as I am earning and at the side of my love ones 😀
I refinanced while working freelance. One thing that helped is that I was doing sporadic contract work with an agency — a few months here, a few months there, and I had a couple of months of W2s. (This also solved the health insurance problem too – I was on their plan while contracting and COBRA while not contracting. Of course COBRA was expensive… but not nearly as expensive as having a health crisis while uninsured.)
For those going totally freelance, and without a spouse with a regular salary, I would recommend keeping meticulous business accounting and tax records because for any decent mortgage you’re going to have to provide your tax returns, profit and loss statements and who knows what else.
Otherwise it’s a “no doc” loan and that means higher interest rate. And I bet those are considerably harder to get these days due to the suprime crisis.
Hey there, I enjoyed the post. I came across this after just posting to my own blog an article called “Top 10 reasons to leave your job” (at http://digitaldesigndiary.com). I see we have some similar ideas. I think the issue of being productive at night is a very important consideration. How can productivity possibly be boxed into 8-to-5 every day? Let alone finding inspiration, if you are working in a creative field? I think that part is a huge advantage to working from home and setting your own hours!
So thanks again; I am going to start subscribing to dailyblogtips!
that is the great post and that is want i am dreaming about for long time. But now i cannot make money at home now. I hope i will do like this in the future like you. If i work at home, it means that i have not influence from boss or any body at workplace.
I believe working at home, regardless of several cons mentioned in the article, is what I think better and suits my need now. I am now able to earn 3 times higher than the time I was still working in the office.
More flexibility, and more time for the family. That’s the most important thing.
Matt @ Kurb
I think about this stuff a bit. I think you touched on a point about the proportion of skilled people choosing to work for themselves in digital industries. Just driving to work is unpaid time, sometimes I forget about rush hour completely and go out for a coffee late afternoon and i’m kicking myself! I’d go mad sitting in that traffic every day!
I think I’m lucky as has been mentioned, that being young and single afforded me the opportunity to find a place for myself online, there’s no doubt that the web 2.0 lifestyle is far more rewarding but you have to have the ability to see it through.
The next generation job location – HOME
Great post and great information! Keep it up!
I’m not there yet, but you really inspire me; in fact, that is what my blog is about: getting people out of a “job mentality” and into thinking about entrepreneurship.
I love working from home. The pros for me are the same as the cons. I can work anytime, in my pajamas, etc. but it often seems like I’m working ALL the time, in my pajamas, etc. I am available to my family and friends any time, but they don’t recognize that I’m working, so they push the envelope. I have to have the discipline to give myself “hours” and stay at work.
I’ve been working full time from home since 1997. I occasionally (once or twice a year) go a company “campus” as we call it. When I do, I get nothing done. Too many distractions and people to talk to. At home I’m very focused but always getting interrupted. Sometimes I go to some other location that offers free wi-fi and work from there just to mix it up a bit. I can’t imagine ever working in a traditional office ever again.
Great post, and I think you pretty much covered most of it.
As with everything there are pros and cons, each of us must decide on what works for us and what doesn’t.
I’ve been working from home for the past 8 months, and I can find A LOT of pros to this, least of which setting my own schedule as to how, where, and when I work. But then, I am very good at managing my time and prioritizing my projects/tasks.
However… there are times that I miss the social aspect of working in an office but not enough to go back there just yet 🙂
What I didn’t realize till I started to work from home is… while the “water cooler talk” or the socializing may be distracting or a time waster, it is also one of the ways that people share their experience, which is a huge resource.
What I mean here is just in passing when you are chatting about your day, and what you are working on, your coworkers often can bring something to your attention, an insight, or call on their own experience to share with you.
This random sharing of resources goes a long way sometimes…especially when you’ve been looking at the same screen for hours 🙂
Still… the pros far out-weight it all 🙂
Happily working from home,
@Jordan, yeah what is a pro for someone might be a con for another. I find it pretty hard to follow a good diet inside a company though. You need to bring all sorts of good for your job, you depend on the quality of their restaurant and so on.
In your house you are in control of those variables.
@Devaki, good points. Why you want that management experience though? Managing people inside a large company and managing them on a home based business are two completely different things.
As from where the money comes from, where everything is possible, so I think its just matter of finding what you love to do.
@Keith, that is a good setup. I think more of those places will start popping around the world, where you can rent your small office.
@Nick, good luck!
@Hal, you can work from home and support your family as well. You would just need to make some calculations to see how much you need to earn to cover all of them with a medical plan and stuff.
Matt @ Face Your Fork
I don’t know about Con #5! To me, I have so much fun when somebody asks me about an obscure, strange undertaking I’m in – I get to explain to them exactly what it is… which always leaves a quizzical look on their face as if I fried their brain. 😉
>>Difficult to explain what you do
I hate when people ask me: “Where do you work?”
If I answer “at home” they feel like I’m trying to get out of replying.
I work online from home. This is a post with some fun stories from people working online from home
I have done both, and after 40+ years I’m finally retired. No one mentioned an important aspect of working from home beyond personal preferences, and obligations. Are you responsible for providing support for a family?
I stayed with a major corporation for 25 years before taking a buyout and then starting my own business. Yes, I liked working for myself. But I chose the family first, not because I’m a martyr – in fact I’m selfish. I did it because it was the right thing to do.
With the corporation I had a fine salary and many benefits. I not only managed with my wife and kids, but did quite well otherwise. Did it suck at work during those years? You betcha, but life is about not only you, but those you are responsible for as well.
If you should decide to work at home I think it would be prudent to include your wife/kids/girlfriend/husband maybe even your dog in the mix.
The other salient point I want to make is, having had a home business, you better be certain you have every faith your venture will produce cash. Even though I have a BLOG I would never try to make this my occupation. In the overall scheme of blogging, how many actually make enough to even support themselves. The percentage must be very low.
I work from home…And I agree with the cons…somedays I have a hard time focusing and I wish I had an office and other coworkers to be with. But I wouldn’t change it now that I have been doing it for a year. The pros outweigh the cons anyday!
I’ve worked from home as a freelance writer since 1996, when my first child was born. I love the freedom to work when I want, to be off when my husband is off, and to work in my jammies! The drawbacks: sometimes it is too easy to slack off and to do laundry instead of write; also, it is too easy to keep on working at the expense of the family. Now that I have a laptop, I can write wherever in the house and it helps. I can write with the family (if they are watching a movie or playing with friends) or in a quieter corner if I really need to concentrate.
I quit my job at 21 to start working from home and I have been happy ever since! I was also working in a multi million dollar internet marketing corporation, and loved what I did but did not care for the boss too much. Knowing what I had learned over the years really paid off, now I just work on clients websites all day and make more than I was making working for a multi million dollar company!
daniel you did a great job of showing both sides. working in an office has a lot to do with the people you get to work with each day, and if you are lucky enough to have good co-workers it can make a world of difference. I support people going out on their own…but someone really needs to be prepared and motivated to work for themselves. By working for yourself you loose a lot of the security involved with full-time employment and the stress of having to getting a personal business going and succeeding isn’t for everyone. My advice would be…if you are considering quitting your job, have some money tucked away, and have your plan laid out…then go for it, otherwise set some goals and you will be on your own when the time is right.
This is exactly what I mean… If you work from home then chances are you’ll be missing interacting with people and getting to socialize w/them and having some adventures.. for me i just think of my online venture as a part time when i finish college i want to have a job that would probably improve me as a whole and i think it is something that an internet cannot provide… btw, i had a post about this..
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.
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