5 drawbacks of working from home

Woman lay on a sofa with a laptop

Whilst I enjoy working from home immensely, sometimes it’s not always as peachy as I imagined it would be.

Sure I get to wear my fluffy slippers and pyjamas all day if I want, but it’s not all plain sailing.

There are several drawbacks to home working that anyone thinking about freelancing from home should be aware of.

1. Distractions are everywhere

Because you’re at home, you’re surrounded by your beloved possessions.

As such it’s much easier to allow yourself to be distracted than if you were in a formal work environment.

Household chores you know you should get done or the odd job around the house all easy distractions from work, especially if you’re already finding it a struggle to stay productive.

2. You don’t always feel like working

young businessman relaxing

You’re at home, your place of comfort and rest, and because of this it’s sometimes hard to get into a working mindset.

When you don’t have to get up and report to an office or workplace by a particular time, it’s very easy to turn your alarm off, roll over and sleep for another hour or so.

But it’s not very professional for a client to be unable get hold of you because you’re sleeping in. Freelancing takes a lot of self discipline.

3. Other people can get in the way

It can be hard for family, flatmates or whoever you happen to live with to understand that although you’re at home, you’re working.

Neighbours doing DIY or having noisy building work done can easily stop your ability to focus on your work.

Similarly, having to get up to answer the phone or door to a cold-calling salesperson gets very frustrating, very quickly.

4. Space can be limited

cluttered desk

Trying to combine a living space with a working space leads to a lot of clutter.

Every nook and cranny in my ‘studio’ (which happens to double as a bedroom) is filled with paper stock, books, prints, scraps, book-binding materials, tools, paint, brushes, photography equipment, screen-printing screens… the list goes on.

Another drawback is I often require a space that allows me to work on a large scale, or get messy with materials. This just isn’t possible in a fully furnished room.

5. It can get lonely

Working from home can be quite a solitary experience, especially if you live alone.

It’s easy for cabin fever to set in when you have a big project on your hands and you haven’t left your office or studio in quite sometime.

It can also be stressful when you’re wracking your brain for a solution and don’t have anyone to bounce ideas off, or you’re unsure of how to do something and only have yourself to rely on.

I make a point of getting out of the house as much as I can to see friends and interact with other people without having to use a computer screen to do so.

I still love working from home

Despite these drawbacks, I still really enjoy being able to make a living from the comfort of my own home.

The freedom and relaxed nature of the environment is great for my productivity, plus I save on the cost of having to commute to a work place and/or pay for a studio (though I am debating renting a studio space in the near future).

If you plan to work from home, it’s important to be focussed.

It’s also worth discussing your situation with anyone you might be living with to ensure they understand that whilst you’re home, you’re working.

7 Comments

  1. Tony Hardy
    @
    November 4, 2012

    My biggest drawback is the fact that I feel like I need to be constantly wired to the kettle. As soon as one cup of tea runs out, I feel like I have to make another.

    Another is having my personal phone with me all of the time. As I’m not working in a studio space where it might be frowned upon, I can always take my personal calls if I feel like it.

    Two things I’m working to overcome!
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    • Paul Murray
      @
      November 28, 2012

      I can relate to the kettle problem. When I’m not entirely engrossed in work, the kitchen is always an easy distraction.
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      • MRlogodesign.co.uk
        January 21, 2014

        I recently let 2 members of staff work from home, and i have noticed that one of them has started missing calls and live chat sessions. (We get a report each week)

        I think the issue is mental strictness and having a correct working environment.

        I am also guilty of this, if i work from home i tend to boot the xbox up and try to find a comfy laptop position!
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        • Paul Murray
          @
          January 22, 2014

          I must admit, I too tend to let my productivity slide from time to time, and spend a little longer on YouTube or other sites than I should.

          I’ve found my most productive periods are in the afternoon and evenings though, so I try not to force myself to work when I’m not productive, and instead use this time to do other things, household chores for example, or replying to emails.

          Pre-noon I’m not much use to anyone, but after that I can work right through the night it needs be, especially when it’s an enjoyable project.

          This was one of the main reasons why I opted to work for myself, rather than for an employer. I can pick and choose my hours and days, but as you’ve found, working from home when employed by someone else can result in a strained relationship.
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  2. Stephen Tiano
    June 1, 2013

    Your five drawbacks above are five reasons why I’ve “freelanced with a net” as a book designer for some 20 or so years. That is, I have a full-time day job in civil service and as uncreative as the day is long. Perfect balance for a rather compulsive personality–plus it’s my tradeoff with my wife for not being a work-around-the-house kind of guy: I bring in two incomes.

    But as to your drawbacks, they’re all handled by my day-job. By the time I’m done each day with the 9-to-5, I’ve had my ability to be distracted exhausted. If I’ve a book in the works–right now I have two–after dinner, my wife (she’s an artist and photographer) and I are often both in our studio working, with TV on in the background via our iPad.

    I may not always feel like working. But making books is still less like work and more like being creative. Plus I’m a tech junkie, so being on my Macintosh is often like playing–aside from Words with Friends there’s not a single videogame ever caught my interest for an extended period of time.

    No one gets in the way, as my wife and I both do creative work of our own. And, again, the day-job leaves me with an itch for my own work.

    We chose our last two houses–and, hopefully, a third to come soon (once we find it and sell our current home)–with an eye toward studio space.

    I’m never really alone. Aside from my wife, the 24/7 world that’s open to me thanks to the Internet, email, Skype, iChat/FaceTime, and like that, keeps me in touch with living, communicating humans ’round the clock, to the extent that I’m a night owl and tend to be up late.

    Reply
    • Paul Murray
      @
      July 2, 2013

      Hi Stephen, thanks for the comment.

      You’re absolutely right about the day job/evening freelancing point.

      I’m debating applying for a position in a studio, as at times I find it a real challenge to focus on finding projects I’d like to work on, rather than ones that pay the bills. Hopefully a day job will give me the opportunity (and financial security) to be picky with my freelancing, and will allow me to focus on a particular field or niche that excites me.

      I’m also considering renting a studio space somewhere locally, just so I can have a clearly defined working space, with my home being kept for relaxing. Just having somewhere to go every day helps me to focus.

      Obviously working at home is a lot cheaper, but I often find I need somewhere to work in a hectic, messy way. My garden is usually sufficient, but with the unpredictable British weather, I often find I’m stuck inside unable to proceed with a project thanks to rain (ironically like today!)
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  3. dojo
    November 8, 2013

    Have done it for more than 4 years. All the ‘drawbacks’ can be controlled or eliminated, so for me it’s a really sweet deal to work from home and earn a good living.
    dojo recently posted..The ugly face of debt: working with the banksMy Profile

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