5 downsides of working at home

Written by Verne on February 25th, 2008

5 downsides of working at homeIn the last 6 months, I’ve grown a new appreciation for office politics, 9-5′s, dress codes, and bad managers – at least to the extent that none of them apply to me. I have to admit, there is a pinch of joy in boasting about the flexible and autonomous lifestyle that has come with the entrepreneurial path I’ve chosen to follow. But like everything in this world, working from home has its downsides.

Here’s a list of caveats that I’ve come to discover and that you should expect to encounter if you’ve chosen to lead the work-at-home life as well.

1. You’re always at home

You’re always at homeThis may seem like an obvious observation but trust me, it’ll hit you after your first week of working at home. Consider this: your buddies wake up in the morning, get dressed, take a drive, get to the office, have some lunch, get back on the road, and then return home. Meanwhile, you’ve been there the whole time. This may seem like a sweet deal at first, but you may find yourself growing a bit tired of the environment - you are, after all, there 24/7.

No matter how great of a work environment you’ve set up for yourself, a static environment can sometimes suck the life out of you. This pain point hits home the hardest at the end of the day when you’re simply dying to get out. The problem is, your buddies are all relieved to finally be back home and don’t have the energy to head out to the bar with you. Suddenly a drive out to the gas station is a major treat.

2. You’re always at work

You’re always at workThe opposite and often eviler side of the coin. From the moment you wake up to the moment you hit the sack, you’re at work. When you literally live at work, it makes it nearly impossible to ever escape it. Add on to it the fact that you’re a workaholic anyway, then you’ll find yourself doing a lot of overtime.

I vaguely remember the comfort of leaving the office and returning home to my personal computer and simply browsing the internet liesurely or chatting the night away on IM. Now when I’m bored, I make websites. Or I organize my finances. Or I work on some other projects. The truth is, there is always an infinite amount of things to do, and without being able to physically detach yourself from them, you’ll just keep on working. You never quite leave the office, so you never quite know when to call it quits. Great for productivity, crappy for your spirit.

3. Is anybody there?

Is anybody there?The answer is no. Well, your mother could be home. As could your budgy named Snowy. But they’re not the people you were looking for or the people you may find you miss the most after working at home for some time. Who you’re looking for are the guys by the watercooler, the colleagues you pass in the hallways, the people you see in the cafeteria, and even the receptionist at the front desk. And unless your mother follows Lost as religiously as you do (or even if she does), you tend to miss out a bit on the personal interaction and comaraderie that comes with an office job.

4. Self-control sold separately

Self-control sold separatelyMy guitar is always within arm’s reach. I have a collection of How I Met Your Mother, Grey’s Anatomy, and Lost episodes ready to be enjoyed. TVtropolis has made daytime television worth watching again (hoorah for reruns of classic sitcoms).

These are but a few distractions that make working from home slightly difficult sometimes. It can often be like working at a toy store (let’s ignore my action figures and pretend this is just a metaphor) - when you’re surrounded by toys, you can’t help but play with them a little. Counter-productive? Yes. But with nobody breathing down your neck, it makes it morally easy to write it off.

5. “While you’re home, can you…”

While you’re home, can you…This winter, Toronto has seen 3 big snow falls already. What’s become apparent from this is that working from home does not exempt me from shoveling the snow. It also doesn’t excuse me from doing laundry, cleaning, or occasional drives out to the grocery store.

While not being able to escape household responsibilities is more likely a result of living with your parents, it is certainly magnified when you work from home. This can have a toll on your work, even if it means just taking a moment to explain that you’ll do it after you’re done work. If your parents are like mine, you’ll have to explain it again in 5 minutes. Then again, you probably don’t live with your parents.

Don’t get me wrong, I love working at home!

From this post alone, working at home probably seems like a torturous, painful, and tiresome form of entrepreneurial hell. To be honest, it can be sometimes. But these feelings are far and few in between, and there are definitely easy remedies to cure some of these blues. I just wanted to give those considering the work-at-home lifestyle the heads up that it’s not all fun and games (or that sometimes it is, and that’s not good either).

My next post will focus on how to fend off these downers and make the most of your freedom from the corporate world. Stay tuned!

Update!
Read the follow-up: 13 ways to liven up your work-at-home routine

53 Responses

  • Andrew

    Great article! I started working from home about 6 months ago and quickly began to miss the benefits of an office. I get soo bored some days stuck at home alone. I think my monthly coffee expenditure has increased quite a bit because I find myself going to the local coffee shop to work just so I’m around other people.

  • Verne

    I hear ya Andrew – making coffee runs is the easiest excuse to get out of the house sometimes. Tim Horton’s and Starbucks should have seen a revenue surge in the last 6 months, at least from our business!

    It’s good to hear that you share the same sentiments. I was beginning to feel a bit guilty for not fully loving every aspect of the stay-at-home life. Though in all honesty, it’s not as bad as this article makes it out to be.

  • Andrew

    Working from home has got me thinking how cool it would be if cities had more “shared office space.” Even more specifically, i’d love to be able to buy an old warehouse and convert it to office space where self employed creative professionals can pay $150 a month and have 200 square feet to work out of while still benefiting from the social aspect of working in an office. I feel like this would work especially well for creative professionals.

  • Verne

    Have you heard of the House 2.0 concept? Entrepreneurs, start-ups, and freelancers alike share housing and literally live and feed off each other’s creative juices. I think the idea’s already been launched somewhere in the US and given the resources (and appropriate housemates) I would have loved to start one in Toronto (I wrote about the idea here).

    Your idea of shared office space definitely exists here in Toronto, though unfortunately not with the ideal price of $150/month. But hey, if you offer the space at a reasonable price, people like me would definitely come crawling in!

    My agency is looking to take a step away from the virtual environment in the coming months by moving into a physical office. I’m sure that’ll call for a “5 things I miss about working at home” post.

  • Rob

    Holy crap this has me down to a T, its scary, but also good to know someone is sharing my hell. What is funny is doing the mundane chores like food shopping I don’t want to bother doing anymore, but driving to get gas, or coffee or lunch is a treat, as you said there is little escape from home. Turning ‘work’ off is difficult too, but its helpful when the girlfriend comes over and I just get away from the computer for a few hours. Its gotten to the point (financially and mentally) that I am seeking a 9-5 again just to get that routine.

    What sux is putting on weight because of the lack of the daily rushing around routine and also the extra sugar from the iced coffees I indulge in on a daily basis now.

    I’ve gotten to the point that I feel my productivity being vaporized from just being at home, in the same place, using the same computer that I do work on for fun on, in the same location, surrounded by the same to-do lists and reminders and paperwork.

    I look forward to your remedies post heh.

  • Tristan Bethe

    Personally i am not working at home right now but even on the weekends when i work on personal projects i already feel some you points mentioned.

    A few ideas that might or might not be all that practical in the real world: If there is no cheap office space available or one of those office 2.0 the other commenters talked about perhaps its an idea to ask one of your friends if you could use his/her house during the daytime as office (needs to bee close friends i imagine) this way you have somewhere to go and when he/she returns home you have a definitive time to leave as well.

    Or you could do some early workout before you start your day. I think i read somewhere that a guy always went to a coffee shop nearby to read his email, just to get out of his house. Personally i swim everyday. everyday at 7 am i can be at the pool. Doing some workout before starting the day you have 2 benefits: you can leave your house and feel completely energized before you start your day!

    just my 2 cts

  • Travis

    I’ve been reading a lot lately about shared office space (co-working). Having worked out of my home based office for nearly two years now, I’m open to the idea of paying a reasonable amount each month for my own little workspace.

    There was a co-working space in the Toronto area, forget the name, that I was reading about. Unfortunately, they shut down at the end of last year.

    Would be nice to share a large office with a group of like-minded creatives and developers.

  • Ross Hill

    I explain the “While you’re home, can you…” a lot too. I’m busy!

    Coworking is a great idea, have you seen http://workatjelly.com/ ?

  • daniel

    I used to work from home. I did that for about 2 years. It got to me after awhile though. The self discipline it took to get my work done also took its toll. I hate the 9-5 to (actually its about 5am to6pm then 9pm to 12) but it is nice to get out of the house and have social interaction. It great to have someone at a desk near you to bounce ideas off of. Someone to use as a spring board. When i was at home it was message boards, IMs and emails.
    Someday down the road I would like to work from home again, but its too bittter sweet for right now.

    Too all of you who can do it, more power to you.

  • Verne

    @Rob – You’re absolutely right, the girlfriend does sort of help to pull you away from the screen and remind you to take a break. I see what you’re saying about the weight gaining too – in fact, the aforementioned girlfriend makes it crystal clear for me. :(

    @Tristan – Thanks for the great suggestions! The morning workout was going to appear in my list of remedies as well, but I never thought about ‘borrowing’ a room in a friend’s house. A great option if the opportunity presents itself.

    @Travis – A shared space with other creative crazies would be awesome! It’ll probably be the most ideal option while my agency searches for its first home in the coming months. It’s a shame the other one you mentioned went under.

    @Ross – Thanks for sharing workatjelly.com! Looks like a great concept but too bad it’s not available in Toronto. Another open call to other Torontonians who want to take the first step!

    @Daniel – I think it was a good move for you to get back into the office after 2 years of working at home. It gives you a broader perspective on what options are available and helps you figure out what you want to do in the longer run. From the experience you already know that you’ll want to eventually move back into working from home. Props to you!

    Thanks for all the great stories and personal insights thus far! Keep ‘em coming! I will definitely incorporate some of the remedies that some of you have been suggesting into my next post (which is coming before the week ends).

  • David Airey

    Excellent insight, Verne, and I found myself agreeing with much of what you wrote.

    I’m in the same boat – preferring to work from home, yet missing certain aspects about previous employment. Thing is, ultimately, what has the more positives, and for me, I’m making the right choice.

    Glad to know you feel the same way.

    Quite funny that Rob’s putting on weight whilst working from home. I’ve never had that problem, although playing football and going to the gym does help. I think I should take more breaks from the computer and eat more of what’s in my kitchen.

  • Andrew

    Do you guys find yourselves forgetting to eat lunch until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. I have the hardest time getting on a normal meal schedule working from home.

  • Brian Yerkes

    Verne, this post is great for me to read, thank you. I am only 3 DAYS into working from home full time after leaving the 9-5 to concentrate on my business 100%.

    So far it is amazing to work from home as I have worked 18 hours days for the past year to achieve this! So I am nowhere near the point of complaining yet!

    It is interesting to read your insight, and I can definately see how working from home could turn slightly sour in the future.

    Like David, I get to play football (soccer) , have a gym in our gated residential community etc…I live with my girlfriend so when she comes home from work it can help to remove the feeling that I am still in work.

    Working from home is all about discipline, and after complaining for so many years when I had to work for someone else, I will do everything I can to never have to go back to that! So far, so good.

    Enjoyed this post a lot Verne, thanks

  • Brian Yerkes

    Andrew,

    I do! I always get too deep into work when in the middle of a project and I forget to eat. you sort of know that you are deathly hungry but your mind is into the project so much that you put the hunger pain to the side.

    Although, I now take the right amount of time in the morning to have a decent breakfast, cup of tea, take the dog for a walk etc. (i there a joke in there somewhere!?)

  • Esther Schindler

    I’ve been working from home for 20+ years. Several of the points you make could be summarized by the advice I got from another telecommuter, way back when: “The best thing about working at home is that you can get up at 4am and go to work. And the *worst* thing about working at home is that you can get up at 4am and go to work.”

    Yes, it can be lonely. (My husband also telecommutes, which makes it let so. But it adds new wrinkles. For instance, when I come up for air between tasks at, say, 9am, I’ll suggest that it’s time to shower and dress. But he’s in the middle of something. By the time he’s free, I’m back in the zone. This is bad for personal hygiene. ) Also, there’s no reason to dress up or wear jewelry, since nobody will see what you’re wearing.

    Obviously, I adjusted to the lifestyle long ago, or I wouldn’t still be doing it. In fact, I spent last week visiting the CIO magazine home office in Framingham… and while it was fun to visit Cube Life I can’t imagine how anyone can get work done that way. To start with: no cat. How can one work without a cat?

    One lesson I learned is to create hard limits for oneself. Turn off the computer on Saturday. Close the door to your office. And while you eat lunch… let the phone ring. (I used to announce aloud, “She’s at lunch. She isn’t at her desk.” That helped remind myself that I didn’t _always_ have to work.)

  • Verne

    Hearing everybody’s stories makes me smile a bit either because you’re sharing funny personal stories or you’ve implemented certain things into your daily routine that can improve the stay-at-home experience. Love it!

    @David – I’m actually in the same boat as Rob with the weight gaining! With it being winter here in Toronto, it’s taken away from the Tennis or Basketball that I would normally play during the warmer seasons. But I started running again this week while it was slightly warm – I only lasted 15 minutes, which is barely enough time to get all the around my entire neighbourhood. And if you live where I live, you definitely don’t want to stop running in the middle. :|

    @Andrew & Brian – We’re in the same boat with the lack of meals! Well maybe not with Brian as I actually don’t wake up in time or have the motivation to make myself breakfast in the morning. I’ve forgotten what eggs taste like already. I find it sometimes work to just shift all the meals over once – breakfast for lunch, lunch for dinner, dinner while you’re burning the 4am oil. Rinse and repeat.

    @Esther – Is my budgy an appropriate replacement for a cat? It’s all I got right now! I can totally relate to your story about not being able to align free time with your significant other – the worst part is that my girlfriend is even busier than I am! Great point about setting hard limits though – it’s in my list of remedies!

  • tenkabuto

    Great points! I’ve recently been put into an at-home schooling program to assist me with finishing my schoolwork amidst my chronic health problems and your analysis really narrows down the at-home experience’s cons. In addition to school work, I also try to do some freelancing, but it’s hard when you’re ALWAYS at work. Sure, being able to sleep around in your boxers and run around in your slippers, but the distractions of home really.. distract you! Not to mention when you live with your parents (I’m only 15, so I don’t have much of a choice).

  • Chad Mueller

    This is a great read, I really do agree with these points, especially the fact that you are always at home, and at work.

    I am a young guy, and I understand I need to work my @$$ off to get ahead in life, but sometimes I just want to sit on the couch and watch a movie, without feeling guilty for not working on my blog, or looking for clients, or finishing a logo.

    Great posts….

    You can count me as a subscriber

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  • Chad Wright

    These points are all very true. You should try working from home with a wife and three kids. It’s hard to keep the boundary line between my office and the house so they are always coming in while I’m trying to stay in the creative zone.

    I’ve started heading to a local coffee shop about three times a week. It’s my office away from home and I get a lot done if four or five hours. And a $4 cup of coffee is very cheap rent.

  • Esther Schindler

    @chad You shouldn’t need to leave home to get peace and quiet. Spouses and children can be trained to understand when you’re “at work” and to recognize when you are not, and IMHO should be. “Daddy’s working, now,” is an important lesson. I’ve known some people (women, particularly, with 3 year olds) to tell the kids, “When I’m in my office, pretend I’m not at home.”

    Seriously, there are some books about this topic, and a few of them are even good. I’d look first for books by Paul & Sarah Edwards (I’ve known them virtually since the 1980s, when they ran the CompuServe Work-at-Home forum), but scan through a few to see which ones cover the “how to organize your time” and “dealing with family” subjects in depth.

    You might also find it useful to read an article I wrote about IT telecommuting:
    http://www.cio.com/article/108501 and its sidebar, “Telecommuters need to develop special skills,” http://www.cio.com/article/108901

  • Chad Wright

    @Esther

    I’ve tried that a few times but haven’t pushed it too hard for one reason: I work too much. I may be in my office from 8 in the morning until midnight. If I take the “don’t come in my office” approach, I never get to see my family.

    Plus I just like getting away to work in a different environment. Trying to be creative while looking at the same room day after day can get hard. A change in perspective is often healthy for me.

    Great advice, though. I’ll check out your articles. Thanks for the thoughts.

  • Nick

    Focus? How do you get focused? That’s the hardest part for me…

  • Verne

    I think the first step to helping you focus better would be to try to identify and eliminate the sources of distractions. Television, toys, food, or any other ‘noise’ (literal or metaphorical) can often hinder your ability to focus.

    To take it one step further, shut off email and let your voicemail be your secretary. Check both at a designated time rather than on a continuous basis.

    You can also look into the physical environment that you’re working in. Is it comfortable or cluttered? Does your working space inspire you? Since you spend so much time there, it makes sense to pimp it to your heart’s desire.

    Hope that helps!

  • Esther Schindler

    @Nick: I’d bet that one reason you chose a work-at-home lifestyle was so that you could work in the environment that made you most productive. Now, you have to figure out what that environment _is_.

    For example, I do love to listen to music, and once I’d have said that a good reason to work at home was so that I can crank it up. But I work in silence, because I’ve learned that music hinders my productivity. (It’s a distraction if I’m not “in the zone;” and if I’m tuned into work, I don’t notice what’s playing.)

    For a week, make a note (on paper, no cheating now!) of every time that you find you were distracted, and what did it. If you’re always checking to see what’s arrived, then you’ll be able to recognize the warning symptoms and to do something about it. As someone else mentioned, it may help to segment your day, so that you check e-mail first thing, after lunch, and before the end of the day. (I can’t imagine that working for me, but maybe it will for you.)

    I’ve also learned my daily/body rhythms. I write best in the morning (when I can keep from checking e-mail!) and later in the day. I fade out at around 3pm, and I know that I get no writing done around that time. So that’s when I work on my e-newsletters, or edit an article, or give myself a half-hour break, or whatever.

    I’ve become very goal oriented over time, and one way I keep myself on-track is to decide, every day, what I want to get accomplished. I don’t necessarily achieve that intended goal, of course, but it does keep me from puttering too much.

    At the other extreme, I’ve paid attention to the actions that can get me into a creative/productive zone (which are generally the same, given my business as editor and writer). Some of them are very silly… but they can shake the muse and get her to whisper in my ear, again.

    In short: contemplate the times that you are the most- and least-productive. See if you can figure out what about them encouraged you to focus… and try to apply those to your current environment.

  • Chad Wright

    Another key to getting focussed (at least for me) is to have a very organized to-do list. If I have everything laid out and know exactly what I need to do (and in what order) that day I find it much easier to focus. Otherwise I end up worrying about the other stuff I have to do.

    Once I put it all in it’s place I can put it out of my mind until it’s time to work on it. I live by my to-do list. It’s the heartbeat of my day.

  • Chris Peden

    I just ran across this posting so Im joining the conversation late but this post resonated with me very true. I have been working from home for about five years now. All your points are spot on, especially the “while your home, can you….” NO, IM WORKING! lol.

    I find it so easy to be lazy, the Tivo is a remote a way. Easy to sleep in, easy to just fart around on YouTube all day. For me not sleeping in is hard, but I do notice now that spring is upon us and the sun is shining that its been easier to get up. Maybe there is a correlation there? I don’t have the remedies all figured out but I will share some ideas.

    1. Act like your at work. Meaning “try” to set a schedule. Get up at the same time every weekday (at least) and make a routine. Eat breakfast or shower first thing, put on your work clothes, not bumming around clothes.

    2. Music might help. For me I fireup my HTPC and rock out. I don’t know why but loud pumping music just hypes me up and I can rock through work faster, or maybe it just seems that way. Either way its fun.

    I also have experienced the weight gain due to less activity. I think that is a real testament to how beneficial normal office exercise can be. I try to go to the gym early but don’t always get there but its better than it was. Another issue for me is that most of my clients are on the west coast and I am in the midwest. So the time difference is a PITA sometimes. Half my day is over and they are just getting out of bed, lol. I struggle with all of these things sometimes daily but I would rather struggle at being my own boss than take orders from another power hungry boss.

  • Simon

    It’s ironic that I came across this post as I just move out to my own office. Home office definitely has its perks like no rent, share internet, phone, etc. But after I moved out it made a hugh difference in productivity. My decision to move out was that I knew I would not able to grow my biz at home due to the distractions. At some point, the money is well worth it if you are serious about your biz.

  • Pam

    Was nice to read that other’s aren’t finding working at home pure bliss. I’m finding myself getting depressed. I too go to the coffee shop way to much just to sit with old people who are retired and get more down. I’m thinking of taking a job soon just to get out of the house. Maybe I like office politics just to have something to talk about – or complain about the end of the day besides the dogs.

  • Peter Mayo

    Great article!
    I am totally inspired to rent out a centrally located office building for those in your position.
    Make a half-way home for entrepreneurs and those who have a long drive to work, telecommuters, etc.
    Just setup a great open environment, open all hours, people can walk from cubicle to cubicle discussing business ideas, partnering up.
    Bean bags, Big screen TV’s cafeteria, Kids play zone ( for parents who watch their kids @ home ).

    Oh the ideas…

  • Vic

    I’m self employed and have been working out of home for 14 years now. My work does take me put about 20% of the time. I couldn’t stand being in all day. Beyond that lunch times are get out times.. either lunch with a client or off to the pool for a swim.

    Nothing beats the casual dress and the open windows in spring and summer.

  • BillinDetroit

    I have been self-employed for about a year and a half. At first, the initial enthusiasm kept me fired up and focused. Now, I am having to learn techniques and routines.

    One thing that is giving me grief are those ‘others’ who think that a ‘flexible schedule’ means that appointments can be 3-4 hours late or that I can drop the ‘nothing’ I am doing to come running to install a graphic on their computers (NOT what I do for a living) and then jaw-bone the rest of the afternoon away.

    I am learning, slowly, that people who can’t stick reasonably close to an appointment will need to reschedule it … I can’t waste 3-4 hours not knowing if they are even en route.

    I blog, do small business accounting, volunteer time, do most of the cooking, make wooden pens and custom canes for sale. Today it was 8 p.m. before I could sit down in front of the keyboard.

    I find that clutter, whether in my physical environment or in my schedule, kills focus. So I am trying to get rid of it.

    This has got to stop.

  • Melissa

    this post is dead on. i’ve been working from home for almost 10 years now, and i tell ya, going to the CVS for a Coke is a big treat. Luckily i have a dog who needs to go out occasionally, so he gets me up from my desk. i try to schedule a workout during the day so i can leave the office at least a couple times a week (hey, everyone deserves an hour away for lunch). My biggest problem is when my SO comes home at the end of the day and i’m ready to get out of the house, and all he wants to do is unwind on the couch….

    reading your “13 ways” article next :)

  • Verne

    @Chris – Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Music is a hit and miss for most people. For me personally, I find myself listening or singing to the lyrics which makes it difficult to work on things that require me to write. Music is great for when I’m just doing design work though! As for your clients’ time delay, doesn’t that just give you a better excuse to sleep in? :D

    @Simon – You’re right, at some point you’re bound to grow out of your home office. I may be making that move in a matter of months and moving into a physical space for the first time. It’ll be a big change for me, but hopefully I won’t end up falling into an office groove. After all, it will be my office. I’m interested in knowing how moving out as impacted the growth and success of your business, please share!

    @Pam – Hang in there! While office politics adds that dynamic of surprise and challenge to your day, there are plenty other more constructive ways to get around your blues. Check out some of my suggestions in my follow up post and see if you can give your day a breath of fresh air so that you don’t have to jump ship!

    @Peter – I love the idea! I think it was discussed earlier, but still nobody has the resources to take that first step. Like I’ve said before, if you build it, we will come! Any chance of building it in Toronto? ;D

    @Vic – I actually am looking forward to warmer weather so that I can open my window to the cool summer breeze. I think it’ll make the experience at home just that much sweeter!

    @BillinDetroit – Looks like you’ve already figured out a few elements in your day that are slowing you down. For many, that’s a big leap. It’s horrible to hear people can be as inconsiderate as being 3-4 hours late without notice. Keep us posted on your progress to change things around!

    @Melissa – Any excuse to get out of the house will work to rejuvenate your working spirit. Adding in a workout schedule is even better because it’s good for you too! Just one thing – what’s a CVS and a SO?

    I’m delighted and also saddened at how much this article has resonated with all of you! Hopefully everybody finds their way out of their grind and can take a few lessons from some of the people posting comments.

  • Peter Mayo

    @Verne – ( Speaking about a halfway house / entrepreneur workshop ) Yep, I agree. I am a firm believer that ideas do not carry value, implementation does.
    I think that if this idea got backing and was done right from step 1 then it could be a massive hit.
    And Yes, I would love to leave the US of A for our cold neighbors up north.

    It would take quite a team of personalities to run, I imagine fresh execs from big companies who are stepping into an entrepreneur position, to bring with them the latest psychology from big business (Good to Great, etc). Now to get back to implementation :) finding the investors and getting the ‘right people on the bus’.

  • Michael Jenkins

    Wow, a good article with a lot of good comments :).

  • Liz

    I get a lot of what your saying here, I’ve been working from home for a couple months now. I actually love being at home all day. But, I’m a little bizarre.
    At my old office job id get home every night exhausted and starving, i just wanted to stuff my face and go to bed. Now i have time and energy to see my family and friends.

  • Verne

    Hi Liz, I too am loving the extra energy and time to fit in some of the more important things that were formerly neglected. Don’t let this article fool you – I love working at home just as much as any of the others who have posted here! Thanks for leaving your two cents. :)

  • Azeem

    Great Entry. Theres a few more downsides of working at home:

    -Meeting Clients, If your home is messy and doesn’t have an alternate/dedicated entrance for your work space it may give a bad impression, and at worst you might lose a client over it. You might want to stick to meeting at restaurants.

    -Expanding your business/ Hiring people (I’m sure someone mentioned this). You don’t necessarily want people working for you having access to your home (keys?). That will prevent you from hiring anyone you don’t totally trust. If your office area is sealed off from the rest of your home, then it can work.

    Working at home makes sense for people who do consulting, and more or less work alone or with a very small group.

    One common theme that I have seen in peoples comments is that they do not know where to draw the line. I would suggest for them to:

    1) Set Office Hours and stick to them. Then your family will know when you have time for them and when you are “at work”. More importantly it will help you stay disciplined.
    2) Dress Up to Go to work. I know this sounds silly but this mentally gets you in the mode of operation. Working with crust in your eyes, wearing Pajamas will hold you back.
    3) Keep your options open. As soon as you can afford it and you feel your productivity slowing down make your move to a small office space. If you can find something in walking distance from home that would be ideal :)
    4) If all else fails outsource your small projects to India and get a day job :)

  • rachel

    hi verne,

    i came across your blog when researching coworking spaces in toronto. it is unfortunate that one closed down last year before i was in a position to take space, but now i’m looking at it from the other end of the perspective – to start one.

    if you are interested in coworking space, we’ll be gathering like-mined interested folks together to chat about it. drop me a line and i’ll be sure to add you to the list.
    r.

  • Simon

    To the posters that feel lonely working at home I say working for yourself gives you the opportunity meet even more people than being a typical cubicle rat. What’s more is you tend to meet better “quality” (motivated like you) people when you are self-employed. Cubicles breeds lazy, dumb, and non-motivated people. At least that’s my experience.

  • BillinDetroit

    I think I’ve gotten a handle on that ’3-4 hours late’ baloney … when they DO show up or when I get around to contacting them in a day or two … I’m ‘all about’ rescheduling the appointment. As in, “Um no, Tuesday morning (of next week) won’t work … what does your Friday afternoon (also, of next week) look like?” If we can’t come up with a mutually satisfactory time, I don’t worry about it … I worried about it last time; now it’s their turn.

    It seems to be alerting people that an appointment with me is NOT a ‘show up when you stinking feel like it IF you stinking feel like it’ deal.

    I just need to re-train some people I went too far for.

  • rachel

    i hope it is okay to post this here:

    We’re trying to gauge interest in developing a permanent dedicated coworking space in downtown Toronto. This might include shared office space, some anchor offices, meeting and training space, and a private cafe. It could be any or all of those.

    Let’s have a discussion with a brief presentation to explore what it might be and why you might want to be a part of this.

    Tue May 27, Epicure Cafe, Toronto
    details at http://upcoming.yahoo.com/event/671403

  • Lizelle Adams

    Well i don’t think it’s that bad especially if you are a full time mom and wife. There are always plenty to do, i have 2 kids, one is 2years and the other is 7 and i would give anything to work from home as i can then attend my kids plays, outings, sports day’s etc and be there when they come out of school and when they are sick. You constantly have to depend on someone to look after u’re own kids when they are sick and my eldest have a long day (first at school and then at aftercare) and when she gets home is so miserable as her day was too long. For men it’s different i suppose, unless they are single fathers with full custody of their kids, but they only have themselves to look after!!!

  • Anke

    Great article! Couldn’t agree more. That’s why I got so excited when I got the opportunity to move my workshop (I make flamenco outfits for dancers) to a new flamenco school which happens to be a 2 minute walk from my place. I’ll move in the next few days and hope to combine the best of both worlds – being my own boss but separating business and personal life for the first time in over 3 years.

  • Shapes of Sweetness

    Dope article. Maybe I should work from home. Wonder if anyone sells ponies online? Maybe I could fill that niche.

  • MELISSA

    Hey Verne –
    The CVS is the drug store around the corner from me. Not sure what CVS stands for.
    SO = Significant Other ie – Boyfriend :)
    Thanks for all the great articles. Can’t wait to read more in 2009!

    @Melissa – Any excuse to get out of the house will work to rejuvenate your working spirit. Adding in a workout schedule is even better because it’s good for you too! Just one thing – what’s a CVS and a SO?

  • Fitness Entrepreneur personal trainer

    I hate working at home because there’s really no excuse to stop working which is why we routinely spend double digit hours in front of this very laptop screen.

  • Monnifer

    Do you guys have a recommendation section, i’d like to suggest some stuff

  • “Great for productivity, crappy for your spirit.” « Blog of a small fish in a small pond

    [...] March 27, 2009 by bigfishbigpond I came across an article about working from home and I couldn’t agree more! http://creativebriefing.com/5-downsides-of-working-at-home/ [...]

  • S.Smith

    After working furious hours at home, I begin to saunter toward ease. I limit my computer time and how often I answer emails and the phone. More fun for me now…

  • @TipAM

    Hi Verne,

    Like your 5 points – a great summary of the cons of working from home…also checked out your 13 ways to liven things up and I would wholeheartedly agree with getting a good start to the day. If I don’t get out of my PJs, even if I have my coffee, I really don’t get anything done! So step one is get dressed & brush my hair/teeth etc…then an hour for a healthy breakfast (for long lasting energy) and coffee, while checking e-mails and planning my ‘work’ day.

    Daily ‘goals’ definitely help – usually I have a top 3 – things I must do today and another 2 things I would like to get done as well (this does also depend on the top 3 and how long they’ll take of course). I’ve found doing small chunks daily means I really get more done in the long term though I still often find myself staring down the barrel of a looming deadline!

    I usually set alarms to go off at regular intervals, so I have a sense of where I should be at, so the day doesn’t get away from me and I plan my work around my family and the household chores I tend to get lumped with because a) I’m mum & b) I’m at home all day! ;-) That way I can work around having two young kids and being the main breadwinner of the family fairly easily. Though, like many entrepreneurs, I do find myself working in the wee hours of the morning while everyone else sleeps, particularly when there’s a deadline looming. Good thing I’m a night owl and work well under pressure!

    The only other problem I find about working from home is that my friends forget I work. (My husband occassionally forgets to which can be quite frustrating!) Or they remember, but don’t really take my ‘career’ very seriously. I’m not sure if this is because a) I’m a mum or b) I’m at home all day! Hehe. Anyway, what I’m saying is, a little validation would go a long way…cause well, at the end of the day I do work and I do pay the bills. I don’t really have a solution for getting this though – do you?

    Thanks once again for your post and making me feel less alone at home!

  • Shantl

    I’ve worked from home for over a year. I like the luxury of being able to sleep a bit more instead of commuting, and doing errands at odd times in the day. I do work a lot of overtime but it’s less depressing with my dog on my lap.

    I put effort into getting ready for work in the office- at home I don’t. I have mixed feelings about that, it’s nice not to have to make the effort but it can get out of hand. The biggest surprise to me is that I find it easier to sit at my laptop and work than take care of things around the house. When it gets really busy I start feeling like a junky…I’m unwashed, dishes and clutter are piling up…

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