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I have never had the opportunity to work from home on certain days, but I would definitely like to try it if I can. What are the pros and cons?

I'll list a few that I can think of.

Pros:

  • You don't need to do any work. (That's a JOKE)
  • You can be a lot more productive. No commute, relaxed, no meetings, no interruptions

Cons:

  • Less of a team effort.
  • Other team members can get held up due to having to wait for information for an off-site member

Apologies if this has been asked before - I did a search but couldn't find a pros and cons discussion.

Edit: It appears The Oatmeal has already covered this! :-)

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I saw that one - but that deals with how to be productive at home, it doesn't deal with the advantages and disadvantages. Do you think it's a duplicate? –  Jaco Pretorius Sep 16 '10 at 12:15
    
Meetings are a necessity for working in teams. –  user1249 Jul 31 '11 at 12:34
    
I guess that depends on your definition of 'meeting'. In my current team I haven't had a meeting in 3 months and I think this is probably the best team I've ever worked on –  Jaco Pretorius Aug 1 '11 at 14:12
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closed as not constructive by Mark Trapp Oct 7 '11 at 19:04

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7 Answers

up vote 18 down vote accepted

Pro:

  • No commute.
  • Unless you have annoying neighbours, your environment's as quiet as you like.
  • If you have kids, you have the option of seeing them during the day.
  • You decide when best to work: maybe you're a night owl. Maybe you want to time-shift your work day into the evening so you can spend more time with your children.

Con:

  • If you're the only person not colocated, you're left out. ("Why's Foo not answering my mail?" "Dude, he resigned a WEEK ago. Didn't you hear? Oh. Noone thought to mail you!")
  • You have to bring your own discipline to the party.
  • It's tough to explain to your children just why you aren't available to play Lego.
  • Cabin fever, if you're prone to it. (I'm not.) Some people just need to get out their domestic environments.
  • Unless you're disciplined with your time, you can easily start working outside your required hours.
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I agree with the problem of having to explain it to the kids. They found it difficult enough to accept that I needed to be on the computer to look for work. –  ChrisF Sep 16 '10 at 12:11
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+1 for No clear cut difference between personal & professional time –  pramodc84 Sep 16 '10 at 12:28
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+1. I find it difficult to focus on work remotely even when I could and end up going to office. Way too many distractions. I prefer the workplace distractions that are much easier to shut out. –  James Sep 16 '10 at 13:18
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ChrisF, send them outside to play when they start doing that! –  user1249 Jul 31 '11 at 12:35
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For me, the cons ended up outweighing the pros.

I have two young kids, and they don't understand why Daddy can't come out to play with them right now. He's HERE, isn't he? Why doesn't he want to play with us? Every step through the office door, even just to the bathroom, ended up with tantrums when I had to go back in.

I also found that my self-discipline was sorely lacking. I wouldn't get as much done because of all the distractions like, oh, say, EVERY SITE ON THE INTERWEBS. Much easier to let yourself go and slack off in that kind of environment, especially if you're stressed.

Things got much calmer around the house once I got into an office.

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That definitely differs from person to person - there's usually nobody around at my house during the day. If I were to work from home it would be super quiet. –  Jaco Pretorius Sep 16 '10 at 14:02
    
I certainly agree that YMMV. I am sure if the kids were older and both in school more of the day that I'd have a much easier time of it. –  Matt DiTrolio Sep 16 '10 at 15:33
    
I had the tantrums a lot until I diligently closed the door, locking it if necessary. The other adults in the house ran interference. Eventually my boys learned. Now at 3 & 5, they sometimes come in to say hi, and most of the time leave when asked. –  Frank Shearar Oct 21 '10 at 13:05
    
I've worked from home since my son was 3 (he's now 7) and thanks to the measures I took from day one to help him understand what it meant for him, and how he was expected to behave, we've never had serious problems. It takes the right kind of household to pull it off, but it is doable! –  HedgeMage Nov 5 '10 at 19:38
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Cons:

  • You have to provide your own tea, coffee, and food, and wash your own dishes, instead of making the most of office freebies and the cleaning lady.
  • Your household heating bills are a lot higher in the winter.
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Not necessarily on the heating bills. I had four monitors and two machines in a windowless office in my house, so heat was never a problem. ;) –  Matt DiTrolio Nov 8 '10 at 14:04
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I don't see that many pros. I would say it's not for me, at least not regularly.

Pro:

  • You can have exactly the kind of work environment you like.
  • No commute.

Con:

  • You are alone all day.
  • Home becomes your workplace.
  • I can't focus at home. There are simply too many others things to do.
  • It's harder to ask for help if you get stuck.
  • It's harder to communicate with your coworkers. You might miss something important said at the office.
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I like the ability to do both, but most companies and/or managers just can't handle it. People are more likely to think you are working while sitting at your desk looking at Facebook than when you checkin great code on time. Personally, I'm not a 9-5 worker. I like to break it up. I have no problem spending several hours with my wife for dinner or just watching TV and getting a few hours of work in before going to sleep. And I like to take naps.

Your company has to give you access to a much software & services at home as you do at the office. Remoting into you work computer is nice, but not ideal.

I miss having lunch and other personal interactions with coworkers while at home. I would prefer to have 1-2 days at the office.

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Well if you are in a position where you are leading a Project, you will be Missed. In such a situation your availability generally speeds up things. It is time consuming to clarify a few things on email. Otherwise generally good, saves travel time.

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In France, telecommuting is far from common. Here is why:

  • The boss cannot show the progress of your work and thus cannot give you more work when you're done with one activity.

  • The unions cannot be in contact with you and thus are afraid that you could be manipulated by the boss.

This all ends up with gazoline being wasted in climate change and productivity misses.

Seth Godin has a blog post about this subject: Goodbye to the office.

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