Working from home. Is it ideal?

As you would agree with me, broadband is causing a lot of disruption in literally every aspect of life as we know it. At the #BroadbandEconomy Conference we touched on some of these disruptions and today I will borrow just one, and talk about it a little more – home offices.

At face value, why wouldn’t anyone want to work from home? I mean you get to save on fuel/transport money; dictate your own working times and sometimes even terms; multitask; eat whenever you are hungry; save on time spent on travelling to and from work etc. Well, there’s quite a lot really. However, since it’s the advantages being preached much, let’s look at the disadvantages a bit shall we?

Reduces creativity

I’m sure by now you’ve noticed that the more you are exposed to different environments, people and experiences, the more of an outside the box thinker you become; if not, then take it from me. Some might argue and rightly so, but I believe that intelligence is not a constant, what just differs is the rate at which people then ‘gather’ this intelligence. You can easily pick out a reader from a non-reader, an explorer from a non-explorer etc.

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Therefore, don’t underestimate those 30 minutes you spend travelling to and/or from work every day. What you are exposed to even on that short journey influences the way you then think – whether you notice it or not. The influence doesn’t have to be immediate (more like immediately noticeable) but it definitely is there. Now imagine those 30 minutes multiplied by 2 by 5 by 4 and by 12…how much would you have gathered in a year without even exerting any effort? So how much of this does a person who works from home miss out on?

Increases susceptibility to distractions

Well home is home, there’s always that atmosphere that influences you to relax. Some people try to curb this effect by specially dedicating a room to solely function as an office. Some have also taught their families, housemates and/or pets to keep their distance during working hours. But let’s be real, how effective is that? The fact that your family knows that you’re within reach feeds on their urge to keep ‘checking’ on you.

Sometimes being quiet the whole day can get to you, you need to say at least one or two sentences to someone after every 2 hours. In a workplace environment you can easily do so and still keep in line with ‘productive work-related’ conversations, but at home that’s likely not going to be easy. Chances are that the rest of your housemates cannot relate to conversations in line with your work for one reason or the other, therefore you’d probably need to talk about something else which can turn out to be a very bad idea.

The environment becomes monotonous

Why do you think dogs need to be walked every now and then? Environments can easily become dull and monotonous. Doing everything within the same area has its own negative psychological impacts. In this case, it can also affect the quality of work one produces.

I once read about how people who work from home try to reduce this monotony by “walking to work”. Walking to work in this case means walking two blocks away (American context) every morning and evening as a way of trying to trick the mind into thinking that you’ve moved into a different environment. I don’t know how effective that is but well…

Limits networking opportunities

Networking is a very important aspect of life, whether on a psychological or business level. Humans are naturally relational beings, even introverts need certain levels of interaction to keep sane.

Sharing ideas or discussing topics with work colleagues can help give you a better understanding of a subject. This subsequently entails that you’re likely to perform more efficiently in the company of other colleagues than you would when you’re riding solo.

Certainly times are changing and who knows, maybe in the next couple of years we would have adapted well into this system. But for now, what would you prefer? The traditional working spaces or doing it from home?

9 Comments

  1. Tindo says:

    citations please

    1. peterc says:

      Git lab are a full remote team. https://gitlab.com

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is highly subjective. The same reasons can also apply to the workplace as well. More distractions at work esp if you work in a large all-in-one office. Some people get more creative in total silence and alone or outdoors in the park. Monotony applies more to the workplace than home. And half the tym there’s a thing called the internet for networking and collaboration.

  3. Ngoni says:

    You make very interesting points. There are a few non-constants like the line of work, the kind of ‘home’ (some homes are more equal than others!). A good case study is the closure of Automattic’s San Francisco office recently! Obviously, they did their homework and saw that it would be more productive/convenient if everyone just worked from home. I personally go to the office when I absolutely need to or when I just feel like it!

  4. Ash says:

    After reading this…I think you need both real office space and home office space but thanks anyways I liied liked it

  5. peterc says:

    I tend to get a lot done at home than I do at work because.

    1. I dont need to shower :).Time saved

    2: I don’t need to walk to work. A few more minutes saved!

    3. The aircon at work is sh**. Some hyperthermal guy wants the temperature set at 16degrees and that’s too uncomfortable for me.

    4. An open workspace is generally too noisy. I can’t not eavesdrop on other people’s conversations and if I put on my headphones, I look rude.

    I’d work from an day of the year.

  6. peterc says:

    Admins please fix sign in on this site. I love it but I don’t feel like I belong here because I have to type in my handle everytime I post something. PLEASE FIX!

  7. tendai katsuwa says:

    I work from home . Doing house and structural plans for my clients. Its perfect – when i want to relax, watch a movie, walk with my dog, feed the rabbits, cycle, jog – the choice is mine.

  8. BTM says:

    Working from home is the most ideal and i prefer that.There are so many tools that people now use these days to counter some of the negatives e.g. skype for business and slack groups.These allow you to be in constant communication with your peers etc.We normally have a drinks event once every month at my workplace to catch up with peers and developments happening in the company.Most of the time we allowed to work from home.

    Maybe it also depends on the type of work,some of the IT jobs these days for instance is remote work done through VPN and does not require one to be physically available at the office/client workplace.I guess the same applies for professions such as journalism,architecture etc.
    I have realised however that some orgnisations are just happy to see you at the office all the time even when the workload is so minimal they expect you to be there.
    I always take working from home as a priviledge that should not be abused.The focus must always be on the deiverables and not were you work from.

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