In November or 2008, I made the jump from a typical office job to working from home as a self-employed internet marketer. I consider myself blessed to be able to work from home for the past 10+ years and it has honestly changed my life in several ways.
Over the years I’ve received a lot of interesting comments and questions from friends and people who find out that I work from home. Apparently, there are a lot of misconceptions about what it’s really like to work from home (no, I don’t sleep in or spend all day in my pajamas…or worse!).
Although I love working from home and I’m grateful to have been able to do it for more than a decade, not everything about it is amazing. There are some challenges as well – sorta like “being your own boss“. It won’t work for everyone.
This article covers the best and the worst, based on my own experience.
Some of the things I mention in this article will be relevant to anyone working from home, but other things may not apply to those who work from home as an employee of a company. My experience being self-employed is a little different from my wife’s experience when she worked from home for a large national bank for about three years.
10 Things I Love About Working from Home
1. More Time Around My Family
Probably the biggest benefit to working from home has been more time with my family. I have a daughter who is 6 years old and a son who is 3 years old, so I’ve worked from home their entire lives. And my wife has been a stay-at-home mom since we became parents, so our kids have always had both of their parents at home.
I don’t consider myself a “stay-at-home dad” because my main role during the day is to work and my wife is the primary caregiver for our kids, but I still have a lot more time around them as compared to if I worked a more traditional job.
In the mornings, I help the kids with breakfast and have a few minutes with them, instead of rushing off to an office. Most of my days include some time to play with my son as a part of my lunch break, something I definitely wouldn’t be able to do with a different job.
In the afternoons, I take a short break to either pick my daughter up at school or walk down to meet her at the bus stop.
Overall, I’d estimate that I have a few extra hours with family each week thanks to being able to work from home. Running an online business has been a great fit for me and my family, but it’s only one option. There are plenty of other jobs for parents who want to stay home.
2. I Can Work from Anywhere with an Internet Connection
Although I typically work from home, I have the flexibility to work from anywhere. When I first left my office job I would feel like I really needed to get out of the house, so I would go to a local public library and work for a few hours most days.
I’ve also been able to work while traveling, which is probably one of the biggest perks of my job. Before we had kids, my wife and I traveled a lot and I was able to work for a few hours per day. The past few years we haven’t traveled as much, but now that our kids are getting older, I hope to take advantage of this more often.
Being able to work from a hotel, a library, or a coffee shop is an awesome privilege.
3. Flexible Schedule
I can choose when I start and end my workday. I maintain pretty regular working hours, but it’s great to have flexibility when it’s needed.
That flexibility comes in very handy for making appointments, whether it’s an appointment to go somewhere (like the dentist or to get the car inspected) or an appointment that involves someone coming to our house (like getting an appliance repaired).
And it’s not just my own appointments. If my wife has to go somewhere for an appointment, I can take off for an hour or two and watch the kids while she’s gone.
In the past, work schedules made appointments a hassle, but now it’s not much of an issue.
I also have flexibility in how I use my time for work. For a few years, I ran photography blogs as my primary source of income. I would occasionally use a day to go hiking and take photos as a part of my work, but it was a lot of fun too.
I even had some bigger trips to National Parks and places that I always wanted to visit, and I was able to do it as a part of my job.
I wasn’t a professional photographer, but having a blog on a topic that I loved allowed me to turn a hobby into a business.
4. Lack of Distractions from Co-Workers
If you work in an office, I’m sure you’ve experienced frustration over some co-workers that make it difficult to do your job. Working from home, I have no co-workers to distract me, and I find that I’m usually a lot more productive.
This really depends on your personality and not everyone will thrive in a work-from-home setting. Some people like or need interaction with others, and if that applies to you, working from home is probably not a good fit for you.
5. I Control My Days Off
When I had a traditional job, I would need to fill out a request form if I wanted a day off. In most cases, I could get the day off. But if a boss or teammate was already scheduled to be off at that time, or if it was a really busy time or the year or month, I might not get approved for the time off.
Being self-employed and working from home, I get to choose when I take my days off. I don’t have to plan time off months in advance to make sure that I can get the days approved, and I don’t have to plan my vacations around the schedules of co-workers.
I’m able to take longer breaks/vacations than I could if I worked a more traditional job. In the case of a longer vacation, I’ll typically take advantage of the flexibility to be able to work while traveling, and I’ll work a few hours per day, which makes the longer vacation possible.
Unplanned days off are also a nice perk. I’ll admit, I haven’t done this as often as I would like, but as our kids get older, this is starting to become more regular. This summer, I’ll probably take a few spontaneous days off at random times for a family trip to an amusement park or a museum.
I originally started my business on the side while working full-time as an auditor. At my job, unplanned days off were frowned upon. That wasn’t really my main motivating factor for starting a side hustle, but it’s turned out to be a nice perk now that the side hustle is my full-time job.
6. More Time in My Day
For most of the years that I worked in a typical office job, I had anywhere from a 30 minute to a 60 minute commute each way. That adds up to 5 – 10 hours per week, or 250 – 500 hours per year!
Not needing to drive to a job has essentially added more time to my day. Most days, that extra time is used for work, which helps me to get more done and ultimately to make more money. But I can also use that time in other ways, like with family, relaxing, or even sleeping more.
When you calculate the value of your time, this becomes a very convincing reason why working from home is a great option.
7. Save Money on Gas, Car Maintenance, and Insurance
In addition to saving time, not commuting to work also saves money… and a lot of it. I’ve put less than 7,000 miles per year on my car (we use my wife’s car primarily for the family, but even that one only gets about 9,000 miles per year). Sometimes I go a few weeks without filling up the gas tank.
Driving less also means less money needs to be spent on car maintenance. My car is going on 8 years old but still in great shape, and should stay that way for at least a few more years.
The number of miles you put on your car each year, or the number of miles you drive to work each day, can also impact your car insurance premiums. I was able to reduce my rate thanks to the lower number of miles that I drive.
All of these things add up to significant savings in the budget.
8. Mental Health Breaks
I usually try to get outside and go for a quick 10-minute walk around the block a couple of times each day to get some fresh air. I’ve found it to be a great way to clear my head and re-focus. After I get back from a quick walk, I’m able to increase my productivity.
For some reason, I only started doing this about two years ago, after I had already been working from home for eight years or more. I wish I had started sooner.
9. Weather (Snow) Doesn’t Prevent Me from Working
I live in Pennsylvania and we typically get a few good snowstorms each winter. When I worked in an office, that meant I usually had to drive to work in bad conditions. Only in the worst of situations was it ok to miss work or be late because of snow.
Now, I don’t have to miss work because of snow, and I also don’t have to drive in it. A snowstorm has virtually no impact on my work schedule, except that I need to find some time to clear off the sidewalk and driveway.
The one downside to this is that when it snows, I typically avoid driving. I used to drive in just about anything, because I had to get to work. Now that I don’t drive when it snows, on the rare occasion that I am out in the snow, I’ve become one of those overly-cautious snow drivers that holds up traffic.
10. Save Money on Clothes
Gas and car-related expenses aren’t the only way you can save money by working from home. I also save a lot by not needing to buy clothes for work. My closet mostly consists of jeans and t-shirts that are my everyday attire.
5 Things I Hate About Working from Home
It’s only fair to also mention the things that I don’t like about working from home.
1. Lack of Separation from Work and Life
I think about work all the time. This is partly related to working from home and partly related to being self-employed. My home office is always right there, so I usually wind up checking my email or going into my office at some point every evening, and definitely on the weekends.
It’s very hard to totally get away from work. When I had a typical office job, I would come home at 5:00 and work didn’t cross my mind until the next morning. I could take vacations and not care about what was happening at the office.
This is easily the biggest downside to what I do for a living, partly because it impacts my family as well as myself. Fortunately, I’ve gotten better about this since we’ve had kids, but I still need to improve in this area.
2. Noise in the House
While there are no co-workers to disrupt me, other things in the house (mostly kids) can be a distraction. I worked from home for four years before having any kids, and I can tell you that it is completely different now that kids have been added to the mix.
The location of your home office also plays a role in this. At our old house, my office was in the basement and I had good separation from the noise in other parts of the house. In our current home, my office is on the main floor and I have glass doors that do next to nothing to block sound or sight.
Dealing with noise is one of the biggest challenges in working from home if there are other people in the house.
3. Other Disruptions Add Up
I mentioned earlier that I love the flexibility of being able to schedule appointments during the day. While that’s true, these little things can sometimes add up and hurt productivity. Whether I am going out or someone else is coming to the house, there are times when I feel like I’m not getting anything done because of several small disruptions.
4. Sometimes I Just Need to Get Out
Staying home is great, but it has its limits. Thankfully, schedules with kids and other social activities usually give me something to do in the evenings and on weekends, but there are times when I haven’t been out of the house and I just need to get out. I’m usually quick to volunteer for a trip to the grocery store or some other errand because I enjoy the chance to get out.
5. Weight Gain!
This one is something that I never anticipated when I was thinking about what it would be like to work from home. After I left my job, I almost immediately gained 10 pounds.
At my old job, I would pack a lunch every day. I ate what I packed, and that was it. Working from home, I find that I eat more for lunch if I’m not careful because I have an entire kitchen full of food at my disposal. Snacks and drinks can also be more of an issue.
While there are definitely pros and cons, overall, I love working from home and it’s been overwhelmingly positive for me and my family. It’s not for everyone, but if you can handle working on your own and not being around a lot of people, there are plenty of perks that come along with it.
About the author: Marc is a personal finance blogger at VitalDollar.com, where he writes about making money and saving money. He’s been blogging full-time since 2008 with blogs in industries like web design, photography, travel, and finance.