I have been working from home (WFH) for over five months now. Whenever I think about the last day I was in the office with all of my coworkers, I think about how we never thought we might never work in the same physical office again. A couple of people in my department have left since that day and we never got to said goodbye in person. However, working from home has been mostly positive for me (e.g., time saved from commute, healthier eating habits etc). This is not to say working from home does’t have its cons though.
In this post, I share my list of the biggest pros and cons of working from home from my five months of experience.
Pros of Working From Home
My commute used to be just over an hour each way (~2.5 hours round-trip). Eric would drop me off at the bus stop where I will take the bus, then train, then bus to get to my office in the city. To be honest, I quite enjoyed my morning commutes as I would take the time to Whatsapp with my older sister who lives in a different time zone than me. However, I was never really productive on my commutes to and from work. I spent most of the time on my phone and rarely studied or read.
Since I started using the Monday Hour One process, I woke up just after six am (about the same time I did before WFH) and studied for about 45 minutes. I would then work on my blog or enjoy breakfast or both before it was time to start work.
Less Getting Ready
I enjoyed dressing up for work. Even though my office had a very flexible dress code, I used to still dress up on most days. Going to the office was also the perfect excuse for new shoes! I still miss dressing up sometimes but overall, not having to spend an hour in the morning getting ready has been a bliss. I can now spend the hour I used to spend taking a shower and looking for an outfit on my business or to enjoy breakfast leisurely (no more eating at my desk).
I used to work in an open office so there were noises from the fan, my coworkers and the streets outside. Admittedly, I was a talker myself and my team’s dynamic has always been very social. I thought it was going to take a lot more adjusting but I was actually able to adapt relatively quickly. We now rely heavily on Google Chats for messaging or quick video/voice calls.
The biggest pro is that I now have more control over a completely distraction-free period. Of course, I am still expected to be available via chat/email during work hours. However, you have more freedom to decide whether to respond right away or not (vs. someone coming to your desk for a “quick” question).
Cons of Working From Home
I used to walk to the printer 20 times a day as my team hadn’t transitioned to completely paperless. Combining that with my commutes with multiple transfers, I was able to rack up quite a bit steps during the week.
Since I have never been an active person, that was basically my only exercise. Working from home has significantly decreased my exercise. I tried stretching for five-minutes every day but that has stopped. I have recently started to go to the mall before the stores opened (to avoid crowd) on the weekend and just walk around.
This is a work in progress and definitely one of the biggest cons for me.
Less Social Interactions
I mentioned my team and I have been relying heavily on Google Chats to stay connected. However, it is still a lot more difficult than when we were in the office together to stay connected with your coworkers. I am part of the committee that work on initiatives to bring everyone together virtually regularly so I have experienced first-hand how challenging it may be to connect people remotely.
You know those quick but productive chats you used to have in the kitchen with your coworkers? Not anymore since everyone was working from home. An issue that can be solved by an unscheduled 10-minute chat is now a 30-minute meeting in our calendars. There were days I can barely get things done as I was rushing from meetings to meetings. The ability to manage my time is more important than ever.
I have read about setting aside one work day a week with absolutely no meeting scheduled but this might be difficult if it conflicts with company’s needs.
For me personally, working from home has been an overall positive experience. I would not have been able to dedicate the time and effort on jenthinks if I did not gain all those hours from not having to commute. However, I need to point out that I have a boss that trust me and a team that I trust. That did not happen overnight and was the result of working closely together in the physical office for over a year.
The challenge will begin when a new member joins my team completely remotely. I see it as an inevitable step for us to move forward safely. To succeed in this as a leader, I know it will take careful planning and trials and errors.