Most of my friends and readers know that I work from home. Over the years, many people have reached out to ask me a variety of questions about working from home. There are so many people out there who are interested in working from home, but are hesitant or even skeptical about actually making the leap. Some have even made the attempt. but (for a variety of reasons), opted to return to the more traditional work situation. Because so many people have legitimate concerns and questions about working from home, I decided that I would chime in with my responses and experiences.
A friend recently asked me”Is working from home worth it?”. At first I wasn’t sure how I could answer this question in a way that would be widely applicable. Of course, to me, the answer is a resounding “YES!”. I absolutely prefer working from home to the situation I was in before (long story short: I was underpaid, in a field I did not enjoy at all, and hated the idea of spending so much time away from my son). However, not everyone’s situation is the same as mine was. So what feels “worth it” to me may not be worth it to someone else.
So I’ve decided that the best way to answer the question would be to present the pros and cons of being a WAHM. Please keep in mind that I work from home as a freelance writer, not for a company, so some of these may not apply to people who are employed by a company and work remotely.
When you work from home, you don’t have to worry about spending time and money traveling to and from work. Your commute is simply walking into your home office (or wherever you decide to set up). The average worker in the United States has a commute time between 30 and 60 minutes round trip each day. Imagine how much money you can save each month by not having to pay for gas JUST to get to and from work. I would do the math based on average gas prices, MPG, average workdays in a month, etc, but I don’t wanna, lol. Suffice it to say that even with gas being on the low end right now, the savings would be well into the hundreds for most people.
No Annoying Coworkers
I am fortunate in that I never had to deal with any truly annoying coworkers (think Dwight K. Schrute from “The Office”). However, I did have experiences with a coworker that didn’t pull her weight and left me to do all of my work and a good deal of hers. And, based on some of the complaints I hear from friends and family, many people deal with coworkers that make them feel miserable. I can’t imagine having to spend 20-40 hours a week working alongside someone that makes you want to scream, pull your hair out, or worse. When you work from home, you don’t have to worry about that.
Unlimited Time With the Kids
When you work from home, you have a lot more time to spend with your kids – especially if working from home enables to keep your young children home. I have chosen to homeschool Christian, so right now I get unlimited time to spend with him. I get to witness firsthand everything that he does. This was something that I missed during those months when I had a traditional job. I missed out on some of the moments when he was learning to crawl. I had to hear secondhand about funny or cute things that he did while I was away at work. Some people might be satisfied with seeing those things through the magic of pictures and videos. And that is fine. However, if you prefer to see them firsthand, this is a tremendous perk of working from home.
Reduced Childcare Costs
Speaking of the kids, working from home might enable you to keep your kids home as well. This means that you no longer have to pay for childcare. I used to work in childcare, so I know for a fact that childcare can be a hefty monthly expense. I’m talking several hundred dollars into the thousands, depending on how many children you have and where you live. Being able to save that much money would likely mean that you are able to do even more things for your family.
More Control Over Your Income
Now, this is something that might pertain solely to freelancing, however, I do have a degree of control over my income. If I need more money, I have a variety of options. I can take on new projects, raise my rates, create a product to sell, or even do a few things on my blog to generate more income. When you work at a traditional job, you usually have fewer options, such as asking (or waiting) for a raise/promotion, switching jobs, or taking on a second job. Though these are all viable options for many, I prefer to have a greater degree of control over my income.
Since I am talking about income, I figure I might as well answer another common question: Is the income worth it? If you work hard and smart, it is definitely possible to earn a full-time income from home. I personally know several people who make at least several thousand dollars a month working from home as writers, bloggers, photographers, crafters, coaches, virtual assistants, and a wide variety of other skill-based businesses. Though what is considered “good money” will vary from person to person (and depending on the cost of living in your area), I have no doubt in my mind that there are a large number of extremely viable work at home opportunities out there. The real question is whether you will take the time to figure out which one will work the best for you. Working from home is not for everyone. However, those who are determined to make it work have ample opportunity to make it happen – especially in this digital age.
Another thing that you have more control over when you work from home is the hours that you work. Not only can you control how many hours you work – you also control which hours you work. For example, I find that my best times are before my son wakes up and after he goes to sleep. That is when I can work without many interruptions. However, if I want to work in the middle of the day, I can. I also have the option to take weekends off (which I usually do, unless something comes up). This is something that is important to me because I have to have flexibility to attend to Christian’s needs.
Flexible Work Locations
One thing about me is that I don’t like seeing the same things in the same place every single day. When I was a teenager, I used to change around the furniture and decorations in my room every few months, just to switch things up. I can’t do that as much at home because of the way things are set up, so it is nice to have the flexibility to have a change of scenery when I need it. Some days I work at a local coffeehouse or Starbucks. Other days, I might decide to get some work done at the library or at the local university. Sometimes I even pack up Christian and my laptop and head to the park. He gets to play and I get to do some work. This beats sitting in a cubicle (or at home) every single day. Some jobs offer a great deal of variety when it comes to your workplace. For example, when I was a nanny, I was able to go on several outings with my charges. People who travel a lot can also have the perks of working in a different location on a regular basis. However, for most people, the workplace can become pretty mundane pretty quickly.
Don’t Have to Choose Between Work and Family
Going back to the flexible hours, working from home also means that I don’t have to choose between things like taking care of Christian when he is sick, going to doctor’s appointments or meetings, taking a vacation, or any of the other things that pop up for parents. I have been in a position before where my son had a minor seizure and I actually got a warning from my supervisor for calling out of work. I also remember when a manager at another job (I worked as a front desk attendant at a hotel) told me that if a tornado actually came to our area, it is my duty to stay there and ensure the guests were safe. In other words, if the tornado alert turned into a local tornado warning, I would not be allowed to rush home to be with my son. That, to me, was not something that was going to fly. Working from home, I no longer have to worry about any of that. When I need to take time off, I simply do it. As long as I don’t have any client work due during that time off, there are no issues.
Opportunities for Personal Growth
Since I have started working from home in earnest, I have had to take on several different roles. I am a content creator, a marketer, a social media strategist, a customer service representative, and much more. I have even dabbled a little bit in graphic design and web design. I get excited about learning new skills – especially ones that are creative in nature. As I learn more and more about the various aspects of running a business and managing a blog, I feel like I am growing a lot. Not to mention, it does make me even more marketable – thus enabling me to pursue even more income opportunities.
P.S. One awesome resource I use to learn about building a business is Fizzle. They teach you how to start a business from scratch or help you to improve even if you are a seasoned business owner. If you want to check it out, feel free to visit my referral link. If you do decide to give it a go, I do get a discount, but I am confident that if you take advantage of their business roadmap (plus the community forum, podcasts, classes, Fizzle Friday calls, and blog posts), you WILL benefit.
Speaking of creativity, I find that when you have your own home-based business, it gives you the opportunity to pursue your passions and hobbies in a way that will generate income. I genuinely and adamantly believe that we all deserve the opportunity to earn a living doing something that we love.
Less Adult Interaction
While having freedom from annoying coworkers or overbearing bosses is a good thing, one thing that you might miss when you work from home is the daily adult interaction that comes with traditional jobs. I’d be lying if I said that I don’t miss having people to talk to during the day. Sure, I talk to people online throughout the day. Sometimes I even get on the phone or have a video chat. However, it is not the same. I pretty much have to make do with weekly playdates and the few occasions that I get together with friends. There are times when I am desperate for adult conversation.
Less Initial Income Stability
Though having a more traditional remote job for a company will likely provide you with a stable source of income, if you go the freelance route or any other type of more traditional home-based business (note: a job and a business are two different things), you may find that it takes a while to get your footing and create a steady flow of income. If you are diligent in learning how to manage a successful business, this stage will not last forever, but it can still be pretty stressful. Especially if you don’t have a financial safety net.
Harder to Separate Work From Family
When you work from home, it can sometimes be hard to separate your work time from your family time. People who work at traditional jobs are generally able to “clock out”- literally and figuratively. They don’t necessarily have to take their work home with them. However, when you work AT home, it can be more difficult to draw the line between the two. It can also be a lot easier to be distracted when you work from home. I mean, there are the kids, household chores, TV, the bed (lol). It can be easy to stop working and attend to your motherly duties (or go on a Netflix binge). This can negatively impact your productivity. One way to overcome this challenge is to set a schedule and stick to it (and make sure that everyone else respects it). Another tip is to establish a place in your home that is for work and work only. By doing both of these things, you can draw boundaries between your work life and your family life.
Not Everyone Will Understand
Another thing about working from home that may not be a deterrent, but that does have an emotional impact at times is knowing that not everyone in your life will understand or even support your decision. It can be difficult when the people you care about don’t really take an interest in the things that you choose to do. It can be even more upsetting when they try to convince you to give up. I hate to say it, but both of these things may occur if you choose to work from home. I can’t even count the number of times that people have told me that I should get a “real job”. They don’t understand what I do and some of them doubt my ability to continue doing it. It can be tough to stick to your guns during the tough times when you feel like you don’t have anyone in your corner. Thankfully, I network enough that I always know people who have been in my position and pushed through. That is part of what helped me to keep pushing towards my goals during those times when I could have given up and gotten a “real” job. And let’s not even discuss the fact that some people don’t really understand that just because you are at home doesn’t mean you are free to drop everything at a moment’s notice. Random phone calls and house guests will happen. Unless you put your foot down about “office hours”.
Well, there you have, it, folks! These are some of my personal pros and cons of being a WAHM. As you can see, the benefits, in my opinion, far outweigh the drawbacks. However, whether or not working from home is worth it is truly a subjective matter. The best thing I can do is tell you about my experience and then let you draw your own conclusions. Or you can do what I did and just give it a shot. Try working a side job from home and see how you like it. Of course, it won’t be the same as fully working from home, but at least it will give you a taste of it.
Do you have any questions about working from home that you would like me to address in a future post? Let me know in the comments below.