Working From Home: The Pros and Cons

You wake up at 8 a.m. with the sun streaming through the blinds. As you take a leisurely shower, you listen to the radio and hear rush-hour traffic’s a nightmare. Good thing you don’t have to jump in the car to head to the office. In fact, you don’t have to go to the office at all. Sure, you’ve got two deadlines to make by the end of the day, but that’s nine hours away.

At the moment, the more important question seems to be: coffee at home or a cappuccino from your favorite café down the street?

Does this sound like your typical morning? If so, you’re living the dream—the dream of working from home.

Key Takeaways

  • Working from home comes with the benefits of no commute, your own personal space, increased flexibility, and more money saved.
  • The downsides of working from home include social and professional isolation and lack of innovation from in-office interaction.
  • If you're self-motivated and introverted, working at home might be for you while if you enjoy being in the middle of the action, you might regret going remote.
  • After the Coronavirus pandemic, working from home has become more common and acceptable.
  • Recent studies show that employees are more productive when they work from home.

The Remote Chance

As the Internet has grown and allowed for faster connections, high-quality video calls, and the ability to send larger amounts of data, working from home has become as straightforward as working from the office.

Many employees consider working from home, at least one day out of the week, a work perk. Because an employee doesn't have to get up and get dressed or commute, it allows for more time to sleep, a less rushed morning, and money saved on not eating out during office hours.

For many employees, however, it's not an option. Kindergarten teachers, carpenters, and nurses, among many others, do not work remotely; however, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, where individuals were encouraged to stay at home, working from home became more common for such jobs, such as teachers.

Before the pandemic, 4.1% of the U.S. employee workforce telecommuted either half of the time or more. At the peak of the pandemic, this rose to 69%, showing that working from home can be done if needed, encouraging a greater shift to working from home once lockdowns eased.

The Flip Side

Years before the pandemic, in 2013, a study by Stanford University in collaboration with Ctrip, a Chinese travel agency, home-based workers said they were more productive, happier, and less likely to quit. The flip side? Those working from home were half as likely to be promoted as their office-based colleagues. They were also more likely to feel lonely.In the end, 50% of the home-based workers in the study requested to return to the office.

In the years since, working from home has become a lot more acceptable, especially by employers, and after the pandemic, a necessity. The pandemic demonstrated that working from home was possible without a reduction in productivity and preferred by employees.

Employees particularly believed working from home was better, with 70% of employees stating virtual meetings were less stressful with 64% preferring hybrid meetings.

Some studies showed that working from home is more productive. Individuals who work from home, on average, are 10 minutes less productive in a day, work one more day per week, and are 47% more productive.

Though working from home has shown to be more productive, it still socially isolates individuals that may gain positive health benefits from in-person interaction in the office.

First Steps

Before taking the plunge, talk to coworkers, friends, and the people in your network, especially people who work in similar industries. Among your acquaintances who have worked from home, what challenges have they faced? Have they seen a real improvement in their work-life balance and overall quality of life? What have they unexpectedly found they missed?

If possible, it helps to create a separate office space in your living area that can be used for work, thereby separating your work life and home life, allowing for more productivity and less burnout.

Here are a few pros and cons of working at home to consider, whether you work for a single employer, freelance, or run your own small business.

Pros

You'll Have Greater Flexibility

Want to take a month off for the whitewater kayaking season in Patagonia every year? By working from home, you just might be able to pull it off, either by working more hours the rest of the year or by working remotely from your holiday spot.

On a less ambitious scale, working at home allows you to adjust your schedule from day to day, taking a three-hour lunch and then making up the hours at night if you want to.

Of course, many appreciate the flexibility for more practical reasons: to provide childcare or eldercare or simply to be at home when the plumber shows up.

You'll Save Money

Commuting costs go away. Your professional wardrobe goes seriously downscale. Whether you're a business owner or an employee, there are incidental costs to showing up at work five days a week that disappear when you stay home.

You May Be More Productive

Are you an introvert who finds social interactions more draining than energy-giving? Then you might thrive in a work environment without other colleagues. If you feel more focused in a quiet environment with few distractions, working from home may give you the opportunity to be your most productive.

Working from home led to more people exercising due to more time available by not commuting, improving physical and mental health.

Your Commute Time Is Zero

In some cities and job sectors, almost two-thirds of workers say they would switch jobs if the change would ease the burden of their commutes. Think about what zero commuting hours a week would do for you.

Cons

It Is Isolating

You could be surprised by how much you miss the workplace camaraderie, not to mention the interpersonal drama, the office politics, and the ill-advised romances. And don’t discount the benefits of professional collaboration and social bonds forged in the workplace. They often lead to future opportunities.

Staying Motivated Isn't Easy

Are you an extrovert who thrives on collaborating with others on projects? Do you get energy and inspiration from the kind of impromptu socializing that occurs among colleagues? If so, the solitary nature of working from home might drain rather than augment your energy. It's all too easy to take a break that lasts for hours.

Working at home requires you to motivate yourself.

There Are Distractions

Your home circumstances might have built-in distractions. These might include family members or roommates around the house. They might be tasks that you think you have time for now that you're not going into the office. In any case, if you can't set aside time to devote to work and only work, you can't pull this off.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Working From Home?

The pros of working from home are no commute, more time available to sleep and rest, money saved by not commuting or buying lunch when at the office, greater flexibility, more independence, and no office distractions. The cons of working from home are isolation and loneliness, lack of motivation, at-home distractions, and unmonitored performance.

Does Working From Home Really Work?

Yes, working from home has shown to be more productive than working in an office by some studies. These studies show that individuals are 10 minutes less productive in a day, work an extra day a week, and are 47% more productive.

What Are Some of the Best Work-From-Home Jobs?

Some of the best jobs to work from home include web developer, therapist, teacher, financial analyst, interpreter, computer specialist, writer, editor, social media professional, graphic designer, and computer engineer.

The Bottom Line

Though working from home comes with many benefits, such as more time, less stress, and more money, the negatives of isolation, at-home distractions, and motivating yourself can make heading to the office seem appealing. In general, employees have found that a mix of working from home and the office is a good solution.

Article Sources

Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. Global Workplace Analytics. "Latest Work-at-Home/Telecommuting/Mobile Work/Remote Work Statistics." Accessed Jan. 4, 2022.

  2. Quarterly Journal of Economics. "Does Working from Home Work? Evidence from a Chinese Experiment," Page 165. Accessed Jan. 4, 2022.

  3. Quarterly Journal of Economics. "Does Working from Home Work? Evidence from a Chinese Experiment," Pages 170, 215. Accessed Jan. 4, 2022.

  4. Quarterly Journal of Economics. "Does Working from Home Work? Evidence from a Chinese Experiment," Page 183. Accessed Jan. 4, 2022.

  5. Apollo Technical. "Surprising Working From Home Productivity Statistics (2022)." Accessed Jan. 4, 2022.

  6. Mass Biotechnology Council. "MassBio’s 2019 Transportation Survey Finds 60% of Respondents Would Change Jobs for a Better Commute." Accessed Jan. 4, 2022.