What are the benefits of working from home?

The main benefits of working from home are: 1) living very close to your work, 2) flexible hours, 3) low operating costs, 4) having a quiet place to work, and 5) you can take time off if you need to.

This article is for people working at home, including: freelance editors, writers, and other consultants; employees working at home; online scribes and transcriptionists; self employed tradespeople and professionals; and online retailers.

Living very close to your work

Your office/workspace is across the hallway or, if your office is set up in the bungalow or shed, just across the yard. It takes less than a minute to travel to and from work every day. The only travel time or expenses you incur are when you need to travel to other locations; e.g. go to the post office, collect documents from clients’ homes or consult with clients in their workplaces.

Time is money. That half-hour or so that you save every day by not having to travel to or from work is time that can be spent either working or, better still, using that half an hour before and after work as extra rest and relaxation.

Flexible hours

Because you live so very close to your office, your hours are extremely flexible which allows you to take on far more work than you could if you worked in an office located somewhere else. If you must meet a tight deadline you can work as late as you need to. You can work weekends if you need to. If your child is of school age you can work mainly during those school hours, although if you’re running a small business you will probably find that you’ll also need to work most evenings and some weekends as well. If you have childcare, you can treat all those childcare hours as ‘work hours’. If your child is sick and you can’t work during the day, you can work all night if needs be to get the job done. If you don’t have any children you can work as many hours per week as you want to.

When I first started operating my small business from home, I worked 50 to 60 hours per week because I loved my work, loved making money, and working from home gave me flexibility; I could work day and night if I wanted to. I worked very long hours for years. Then I had a child. Because I had childcare support and worked every evening, I was still able to work quite long hours but had to be far more flexible in regard to when I worked, and since having a child I’ve averaged 40 hours per week, not 60.

Low operating costs

For many small business operators, working from home is far more cost-effective than working in a separate rented workspace.

The operating costs of working in a home-based office are far lower than in a stand-alone office in town. Electricity, heating and cooling costs less when your office is based within your own home. If you don’t  own your own home, the the office portion of your house costs far less in rent than if you were to rent a stand-alone office in town.

If you’re working at home you don’t have the cost of petrol or public transport that you would have if you were to travel to an office every day, and you can eat lunch at home every day instead of eating out and make your own coffee instead of going to a cafe so your meal expenses are very low.

A quiet place to work

If your home is located in a quiet area and the other people living in your home are not noisy, your home-based workspace will be a quiet place to work and this is one of the main benefits of working from home. Compare a home-based office where the main source of noise is the tapping of computer keys, with an occasional telephone ring, message-beep or printer-hum. Sitting in my office, now, I also hear from outside the window the wattle birds chattering, a chook clucking because she has just laid an egg and a distant neighbour’s lawnmower or whipper-snipper or something. That’s all. It is quiet and I like it.

There are also no other people working in your office, or building, and so none of the distractions of larger workplaces: no gossip, no interruptions, no sudden requests to get your head out of your current task and do something else. If you turn your phone off whilst working on an intensive task there are no telephone interruptions either. This lack of interruption or distraction means you can just get on with the job at hand and do it until it’s finished, or until it’s break-time.

You can take time off if you need to

One of the best things about owning/operating your own business – that is, being your own boss – is that you are responsible for all the decisions about your business including whether and when you can take time off.

If you want to take a day off to go to a family gathering, or a couple of hours’ off to attend a webinar or training course, you can take that time off then make up your hours later that day or night, or on the weekend.

Being your own boss means that you can take one or two weeks’ leave if you need to, as long as:

  • You take that time off at the right time of year; e.g. at a time that is naturally less busy for your business
  • You are aware of the loss of earnings that will result from you taking leave and know the business can easily bear that loss
  • You (or a contractor) are available throughout your period of leave to receive and respond to calls/emails from clients
  • You are confident that you won’t lose clients or potential clients by taking that time off.

The challenges of working from home

Working from a home-based office/workspace can be very challenging and not everyone is able to deal with the flexibility, responsibilities and isolation of operating a home-based business. Many of the benefits of working from home are double-edged swords.

I’ve written about some of the challenges of working from home and the importance of work-life balance in other articles including  Nobody’s perfect (when they run work from home)How many hours do you need to work? and The pros and cons of freelancing.

Check out my other articles where I discuss different challenges of working from home: Work-life balance when working from home and Managing home-based businesses

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