I bet you’ve thought about it. After a grueling day at the office filled with real-life temper tantrums, nauseating levels of interpersonal gossip, and an arduous commute home, you wonder about all the lucky stars out there who work from the comfort of their pajamas. Is it really all it’s cracked up to be? I’m here to give you a resounding yes and provide you with some food for thought. It’s no easy life change but, after all, hope is the biggest factor in propelling us forward. I hope to provide a small sprinkling of just that.
Let’s break this down into three pros, and I’ll try to debunk three top cons.
1. You avoid all (if not most) of the sticky office drama.
Do you currently walk the long way to the kitchen just to avoid a few unpleasant souls? Okay, maybe that was just me. Or, maybe you stress yourself out trying to dodge the office gossip patrol because all they do is rain grief down on everybody. Perhaps you report to someone who always seems to put you down instead of build you up.
Well, there’s no denying you might still encounter a sticky snafu or two with someone via e-mail while working from home. However, it’s far easier to control our reactions and compose something thoughtful via e-mail than in the heat of the moment.
2. You never have to submit another PTO request!
This, for me, was the main component to my quest to work from home. I’m not sure why, but I always felt such anxiety whenever I had to request time off. Or, if I woke up with a 102 degree fever, the prospect of having to call out left me as light-headed as the heatwave that was soaring through my body.
I suppose I felt what was, truthfully, quite obvious. I was not in control of my own life. Whether or not I could attend my sister-in-law’s bachelorette party was dependent upon whether or not the office would have enough staff to function properly on that day. (Insert big, sulky, sigh.)
3. You can travel.
I’ll bet you know a few folks out there who, upon retirement, say they can finally travel now. My father is among those ranks. He worked over 30 years for the New York City Transit Authority and only, finally, made it to Paris upon retirement. I actually got a little choked up when he finally booked the trip. The only thing that was holding him back was his need to provide for his family and create a stable environment.
Well, working from home, you can check off all the aforementioned boxes and more. You can work. You can travel. Here are a few real-life scenarios. Instead of “enduring” the nine hour flight to Paris, you can get a full nine hours’ work in, then stroll down the Champs-Élysées. Instead of hiring a nanny to watch your kids after school, you can step away from the laptop at three o’clock to meet the school bus and serve your kids warm, homemade brownies. Or, if you’re a singleton like me, you can pitch an article today, hop on a flight tonight, and resume your work from a thatched roof cottage in Ireland before sailing down to the local pub for a pint and a soul-quenching order of fish and chips.
Okay. Here come those dreaded cons. What about the loneliness? What about the 401(k)’s? What about the benefits? All these things are real. But, allow me to attempt to debunk.
1. There will be moments of loneliness.
Working from home, there’s no harmless chatter by the coffeemaker. There’s no grabbing lunch with your girl in the next cubicle. But, we don’t make all our friends through work, do we? We join a kickball club on the weekends. We volunteer at the animal shelter down the road. We attend father-daughter dances with our kindergartener and chat with the guys about how awesome it is to watch them grow up. There are plenty of ways to make meaningful relationships outside the realm of a gray cubicle.
2. There will be no 401(k).
This is a tough one to debunk. However, I started noticing that a small handful of my friends who work those 9-5’s don’t have 401(k)’s either! They receive a steady income and health insurance, but no 401(k). Furthermore, a full-blown pension seems even fewer and farther between these days. So, in this case, I would simply set aside a certain portion of your earnings and invest in your own IRA. I’m no financial expert, but it gives you something to hold on to, aside from the vision of working ’til the age of 93.
3. What about health insurance?
I can’t say that this is a huge detractor from working from home. Of course it cuts the price tag for this monthly expense in half. But is that $70 you’re saving each month worth the dread you feel on a Sunday evening, knowing you have to return to work on Monday? Heck no! You can research your own health insurance and find a plan that works for you. How about this. I knew someone (ahem, me) who used to dread going to work so badly that she ground her teeth while she slept and, eventually, needed to seek medical attention to stop the pain her popping jaw brought on. I know, I know. That’s really extreme. I’m just saying… Stress is no phantom ailment. It has serious repercussions.
So, in the end, we each find our way to the magical realm of working from home. Every path is different. Maybe you’ll work in Customer Service from home. Maybe you’ll write. Maybe you’ll create your own startup. Maybe you’ll piece it together like me, as a Freelance Writer and Adjunct Professor. The list is endless. Either way, I hope you’ll give it some serious thought, map out a workable plan, and hold on to all these trinkets of hope. It is doable, and I wish you nothing but happiness and success as you make it happen!