Don't Do It Yourself

The Dirty Truth About Working from Home

Photo: The Oatmeal

I work in my pajamas a good chunk of every day.  There, I said it!  When I’m not in my pajamas, I’m probably barefoot in shorts and a t-shirt with a few days’ worth of stubble on my face.  Some days I may even be working on my back deck, but you’d never know it!

I may be presenting to a group of executives or training a team of call center agents, but my delivery is no less professional because of my lax dress code.  I know I’m more productive and I love working from home!

But not everyone is cut out to work alone.  Most people need social interaction to thrive and you have to be willing to live off small doses. Successful virtual workers are usually a strange breed of self-driven, organized, cost-conscious, and sometimes hermit-like people. 

So is a virtual office for you?  Take a look at my personal pros and cons list to see if you wanna make the jump to become a stay at home entrepreneur.

What to Consider Before Working From Home

The Benefits of a Virtual Office 

  • I save a ton of money.  Literally $20,000 – $30,000 year.
    • No commuting costs (i.e. parking, gas, and car insurance; I classify my vehicle as “pleasure only” for a big insurance break)
    • I don’t pay for office space – HUGE!
    • Very few lunches out
    • No Starbucks trips (actually I hate Starbucks and prefer McDonald’s coffee, but you get the idea)
    • Home office tax deductions 
    • I keep a very small professional wardrobe (I hate shopping for new clothes and don’t need to)
  • No commute gives me an extra 2 hours a day for other activities.
  • No need to shave means I can get away with a 5 o’clock shadow most days.
  • I can talk hands free on my speaker phone and strategize about business without worrying about anyone overhearing my conversation.
  • I can spread out.  I have plenty of room for my full keyboard, wireless mouse, and my dual monitors to see all my documents at once.
  • Less distractions makes me much more productive.
  • It’s easy to get exercise. I can go for a bike ride, run to the gym or shoot baskets, and I have a place to shower afterwards.
  • I have a flexible schedule and can work when I want and help out the family when things come up.
  • I look young, but people don’t misjudge me since they don’t see me right away.  I’m in my mid-thirties but look like I’m in my early twenties.  That’s a drawback in the business world as age is an indicator of experience and means you’re often taken more seriously.  If I work with people on the phone before I meet them, I tend to garner more respect.
  • I can play with my daughter who goes to bed so early I’d never get to see her otherwise.
  • Less politics and bullshit!!!

The Drawbacks of a Virtual Office

To be fair, there are some downsides to working from home:

  • No IT department to help load software, configure email, fix viruses, install printers, etc.  On the plus side, you become more computer savvy by necessity which is a good thing.
  • You’ve got to back-up your own computer. You must be the one to prepare for the inevitable computer crash.  I used to burn copies of my hard-drive on DVDs every week, but recently switched to using online back-ups through Mozy and find it much, much easier.
  • Some types of meetings can be more difficult like business development and brainstorming sessions.  Although I find these tools for stay at home entrepreneurs help considerably.
  • With little face to face interaction it gets lonely once in a while.  Not to mention that my social skills get a bit rusty when I haven’t visited a client in a few weeks.
  • Less walking around means less exercise.  You’d be surprised how easy it is to get out of shape when your commute is about 30 paces. 
  • Too much togetherness with the family.  I love my wife to death, but sometimes you need a few extra breaks when you’re with someone 24×7.

So are you considering working from home? What’s stopping you?