The Cost of Working From Home
Working from home has a lot of perks. You don’t have to brave the rush hour commutes or change out of your pajamas. You can stay away from office politics and avoid pointless meetings that suck up your valuable time.
If you’re an entrepreneur, bootstrapping your business is a right of passage. Often that comes with sacrificing on perceived expenses and overhead to invest more capital in your business. So many great startups and businesses have started out working from basements or dining tables. In theory, you’re saving money, but there is also a cost to working from home that you may not realize.
Here are some of the costs of working from home:
When you work from home, it’s way too easy to get distracted and lose your motivation, leading to lower productivity. Whether its binge watching House of Cards or folding the laundry, the opportunities for where you can place your focus or spend your time are plentiful. Remember Professor Robert Kelley, who became an Internet sensation after his kids stormed into the room during a live TV interview?
In his book Deep Work, Cal Newport hypothesizes that “Deep Work is becoming increasingly valuable at the same time it’s becoming increasingly rare. Therefore, if you cultivate this skill, you’’ll thrive.” He meticulously plans out every minute of his day to maximize productivity, as he realizes time is the most valuable asset he has and that it should yield returns.
The ability to control your time and perform without distraction allows you to produce better results, faster. Unless you have the discipline to remain extremely focused, working from home is not a long-term solution.
While there are plenty of perks from working from home, isolation sets in from being separated from colleagues or customers. It’s also harder to establish trust and develop relationships when you don’t have regular, face-to-face interaction. The loneliness can lead to stagnation personally and professionally, or even worse, depression.
While you can stay active on social media or schedule the occasional lunch with a friend or colleague, most of us crave social interactions and being part of a larger community.
If you’re an entrepreneur or freelancer, the isolation of working from home limits your opportunities to collaborate and network with others that can propel your business forward. You won’t have the ability to meet other people who can give you new ideas or introduce you to someone that can potentially solve a business need.
Limiting Opportunities to Learn
When you work alongside your colleagues or others, you have an opportunity to learn from your peers or access more formal training. Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer who ordered all home-based employees back to the office under her leadership said, “Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings.”
If you’re working from home, you have to be more diligent to seek out these opportunities to advance your skills set.
It takes a lot of self-discipline and control to work from home without succumbing to the distractions and potential loss of productivity. The ability to quickly learn complicated new skills and produce value at a high rate is a skill in high demand in our current economy, and will separate the most successful businesses from the rest.
You also need to put your business in an environment that sets it up for success. While removing distractions and focusing on work is important, the ability to collaborate with colleagues and learn new skills will keep you relevant in the demands of today’s workplace.