Working from home

I have recently started working from home, and all these questions started to pop in my head.

With the advent of the Internet, an entire industry of professionals from different areas is emerging – professionals that don’t need the physical space of an office; they work from the comfort of their own homes.

More than 1.1 million Canadians worked from home in 2011, according to Statistics Canada.

But is working from home really ideal? Does it make people more or less productive? Does it improve work satisfaction?

I have recently started working from home, and all these questions started to pop in my head.

Some people believe employees who work at home are more productive than office-dwellers. Nicholas Bloom, a Stanford University economics professor, carried out a study in 2013 that suggested at-home employees are more productive than on-site employees.

I must certainly admit that working from home has its advantages (and not simply for the fact that I can work in my pajamas). When you work from home, there are a lot less distractions – no telephones ringing, no customers arriving and no interactions with other people.

Finishing a task becomes easier and faster somehow, and one’s ability to focus on a task is greatly improved. The other positive aspect of not working in an office is, of course, the ability to work from anywhere in the world. You can extend a visit to your parents’ house, or be drinking caipirinhas at the beach in Rio and be writing an article (which I guarantee you is not happening right now; although I think about this possibility constantly).

But there’s no denial that working from home can also be incredibly lonely. All of a sudden, the short interactions with co-workers are greatly missed – the conversations at the watercooler, or simply being able to ask them about their weekend.

Human beings are social by nature (well… most of them anyway). That’s why some cities have created office spaces where work-at-home professionals can socialize. These special offices work as common spaces where professionals from different areas can work side by side, keeping each other company. These professionals can exchange ideas at the watercooler, or simply enjoy each other’s company while working in close proximity (no, I did not try this; well, I actually gave them a call but refused to go as soon as they said I could not wear my pajamas).

Working from home is actually a new concept for me. I had never done it before, and at first, it was quite confusing. If you’re used to the structure of an office, or simply working with close supervision, the lack of structure can be overwhelming at first.

The most difficult aspect about working at home for me has been dealing with the guilt of not working from 9-5; the guilt of not staying in front of the computer for a certain amount of time each day. Whenever I finish my tasks early, I feel the need to be checking e-mails for an extra hour just because it feels wrong to leave my computer.

The book “The four hour work week” by Timothy Ferriss makes an interesting point when it questions why every job in the world seems to take exactly from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to be achieved. Ferriss says this is simply not true, and that most jobs can be achieved in much less time.

Even though I know I don’t have to be working from 9 to 5, I still try to follow that schedule.

I have met people who wouldn’t change working from home for anything else; they have gotten used to its perks. They enjoy the mobility of working from anywhere and the ability to make their own schedules. Although I see all the advantages that working from home can offer, I still prefer the structure of an office. I miss the interactions with co-workers, being available for customers and even the routine of working from 9-5.