Last Updated on: September 20, 2023
Working from home, or WFH, has been on the rise since the pandemic, and this sudden shift from a traditional on-site setup to working remotely has challenged and changed the workforce dynamics and many employees’ preferences.
Working from home has always been traditionally thought impossible by many companies, but the pandemic forced the change, which led to more businesses switching their minds about allowing their employees to work away from the office.
This sudden yet expected change regarding remote working has given rise to new possibilities for employees but has posed challenges for companies, management, and the government.
Talking with some people working from home in the past few years, including my personal experience, I realized there are pros and cons to working from home.
Please note that most of the things I write are based on personal experience, observations, and interviews with people working from home.
Table of Contents
Advantages of Working From Home
First, Let us talk about the advantages of working from home and why some people prefer working remotely.
1. No life-draining commute with all its minions.
If you’ve ever tried working in Metro Manila, then you know that the worst part of working in the city is not the job itself but the long, tiring, and life-sucking commute.
The commute is not only about how many rides it takes from your house to your office. It also includes long waiting lines, hours stuck in traffic, inefficient public transportation, and the discomfort of heat and sweat.
I remember a coworker who lives in Lipa, Batangas. He would typically spend three hours (each way) going to and from his house to our office in McKinley Hills. Imagine a life where the bus chair is your bed five times a week.
So when working from home was implemented, employees regained hours of their life that would have gone wasted while drenched in sweat and stuck in the payday Friday traffic night along EDSA or SLEX or waiting in line in MRT Ayala Station.
2. Less preparation time is needed.
In connection with the long commute, working from home has also significantly reduced the preparation time, like taking a bath, dressing up, preparing your breakfast or lunch box, or any morning routine you would normally do.
While working from home, you don’t even need to take a bath or change to your usual office clothes before you can begin working. Some people would even work in their pajamas while preparing their breakfast.
3. You can be more flexible with your work.
Though not all companies provide the privilege of flexible working hours, working from home still provides some sort of flexibility.
Since you’re no longer in a rush to get out of the house to commute at five, you can start working earlier, especially if you have deadlines.
Another one or two hours of overtime can be less stressful since you’re already at your house, so you do not think about when you’ll arrive home.
4. You have the option to work from *almost* anywhere.
Working from home has given rise to more digital nomads or people who can work almost anywhere, as long as they have access to the Internet, especially the millennials and Gen Z.
Though this is undoubtedly one of the good benefits of working from home, finding places with a stable internet connection in far-flung areas can still be challenging.
5. You can earn a higher wage while having a lower cost of living expenses.
Suppose you’re earning P30,000 in Metro Manila. In that case, it is only enough to cover your basic needs like rent, food, utilities, and transportation, especially due to the increasing inflation rate.
However, if you take your P30,000 salary in the provinces, especially in rural areas, the same amount that you’re earning and struggling to budget in the city becomes manageable.
Working from home allowed you to remove transportation and rent from your regular expenses, which usually take a large chunk of your salary.
To top it off, fresh produce, meat, and fish are also significantly cheaper in the province.
6. You can spend more time on your hobbies and pets.
Another indirect effect of taking out commute time from your daily schedule due to working from home is you have more time to spend on other stuff, like finding a hobby.
For example, my sister had more time to play table tennis, ride her bike, and lift weights. In contrast, one of my friends had more free time and bought an adorable French Bulldog named Leon.
7. You can spend more time with your family.
Lastly, one of the most important advantages of working from home is having more time to spend with your family, especially if you’re parents.
I had an acquaintance who only saw his family during weekends and holidays because he lived in the city while his family lived in a nearby province. He said that it was just impractical to take a daily commute.
Because you’re working from home, you can finally eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner with your family. Remember that life is too short, so spend every opportunity to show your love to your loved ones.
Disadvantages of Working From Home
Now that we have enumerated some advantages of working from home, we will proceed with the disadvantages. Remember that every pro is a con, so you’ll have to balance it.
1. Lack of physical and social interactions with your team.
If you’re working with a team, then you know what I mean. Because of the remote working setup, gone are the days of lunch-outs, team dinners, simple team-building activities, and even face-to-face ranting about work to a teammate.
It is also much harder to establish rapport and friendship with new people you only meet online, especially for introverts. Although, most introverts may prefer working alone.
On the other hand, extroverts may also lose their minds if they don’t get to meet and bond with other people more often.
2. Your day may become a lifeless routine of work and sleep.
Another downside of working from home is the potential for your day to be too routine and monotonous, especially if you’re alone and frequently working overtime.
When you are in the office, you can easily go to the mall, walk for a while, or find someone to accompany you. Though this is still possible while working from home, sometimes, the pull of gravity from your bed is stronger than your desire to go out.
3. It can sometimes be harder to focus leading to less productivity.
Focus can sometimes be difficult while working from home when there are too many distractions around you, like the bark of your dog, the sound of vehicles passing by, no privacy, or your working area is too small, crowded, or too hot.
So when focusing becomes difficult, it is only natural for your productivity to plummet, affecting your performance.
4. The separation between work and personal life becomes blurry.
The dangerous part of working from home is when the demarcation point of your personal life and your work becomes blurry or disappears.
For parents, it is easy to get distracted by the cry of your baby, the screaming of your child, or the playfulness of your pet (furbaby).
On the other side of the spectrum, your boss or supervisor may not be trusting enough, so they micromanage you and contact you outside of working hours while you’re doing some personal errands.
5. Communication between teammates can sometimes be slower.
Though team communication and collaboration tools have dramatically improved, if your teammate decides to ignore you, you will have no way of getting to them.
I know someone who became too stressed managing a subordinate who is always slacking and doesn’t meet deadlines. Since she cannot approach her teammate in person, she has no other way but to wait for the response, even if they are already delayed.
Then if your Internet connection is unreliable, you’ll have an even more challenging time communicating with your teammates.
6. You’ll have a higher electric bill, while also having the risk of power interruptions.
Since you’re working from home, your electric bill is only expected to increase, especially if you have an air-conditioning unit and other household appliances.
Aside from a higher electric bill, if you’re living in the provinces, then you can also suffer from constant power interruptions, which is not something you’ll worry about if you’re in the office.
For example, we live in Camarines Norte, which is often ravaged by multiple strong typhoons yearly, like in 2020, resulting in days and weeks of power interruptions.
7. You are spending more time with your family.
Spending quality family time is one of the best advantages of the work-from-home setup. However, spending more time with your family is a double-edged sword.
For some people with a good family relationship, spending time with their family is a great privilege and opportunity.
Unfortunately, based on what I commonly read on forums and Facebook groups, many people suffer and stress out because of their toxic family members, so working from home is not the best for them though they can move out.
Is working from home effective?
In my opinion, working from home is effective, but it is not holistic. In a sense, it is effective that you can still deliver the required outputs and prove that you can work with minimal supervision.
However, it is not holistic because working should benefit not only the company but also the employees’ physical, emotional, social, and even spiritual needs. So, the lack of physical and social interaction affects some parts of the work experience.
Other factors include an employee’s preference – do they want to work from home or not? It will also depend on the nature of their work because not all work is best done from home, like teaching young children.
Working From Home Tips
Now that we have listed the advantages and disadvantages of working from home let us look at some tips for effectively working from home.
1. Set boundaries for your housemates during working hours.
Boundaries are crucial when you’re working from home. You must explicitly explain to them that even if you look available, they must assume you are not because it is still working hours.
If you have a room or have a dedicated space for work, you may place a sign not to distract you during working hours so you can focus and remain focused.
2. Set boundaries to your workmates after working hours.
When the clock strikes the end of your shift, it is only a proper courtesy not to contact your workmate for work-related stuff. However, you can still have a chat about other things.
Since it is already outside working hours, you should be comfortable not answering phone calls and emails from your workmates.
I used to have a supervisor who tried to call me at 9 in the evening to tell me that we had to submit a presentation early in the morning about something given to them a week prior but never communicated to us—just an example of bad leadership.
3. Try working from a coworking space for a change in scenery.
Sometimes, your work becomes too boring and mechanical. In that case, you can try changing your scenery by working from a co-working space or a coffee shop if you don’t need a quiet place.
It may even help sometimes to hear light chatters around you to feel that you are not alone and that you have “officemates.”
4. Design your working space to simulate an office environment.
If you’re tired of working from home and want to mix it up, you can redesign your working space to simulate an office environment.
Please don’t place your working space right next to your bed because it is easy to slide into your bed and nap.
You can also place your mobile phone in another room so you won’t be distracted by frequent notifications from social media.
5. If you’re working with an output-oriented job, find your most productive hours
If you’re not required to be present at a particular time of the day and are just required to submit your output, in that case, you can work during your most productive hour.
For instance, since I started my freelancing journey and diverged from the typical 8 AM-5 PM, I realize that I am most productive during 2-6 PM and from 8 PM-12 AM, so I don’t have to force myself to work during hours that I know I am not productive.
You can try to find your most productive hours by working at different times of the day and tracking the time when more work is done.
6. You can use productivity tools like Pomodoro timers and application locks.
There are many productivity tools on the Internet that you can use to prompt you to work and avoid procrastination.
I personally prefer using Pomodoro timers and application lock apps like Forest, which helps me stay focused while working and avoid getting sidetracked by social media and Netflix.
7. Find a routine that works for you.
Routine is not always bad because it helps us find our groove even if we don’t feel like working.
While working in the office, I had a routine of waking up, taking a bath, dressing up, commuting, eating breakfast from the pantry, and so on. This routine allows me to do the menial parts of my day.
Then when I started freelancing and working from home, my day became unstructured, and work became difficult. That is how I realize that I still need a routine.
It is hard to just rely your day on what you feel like doing because you may not accomplish your tasks if you do.
Verdict: Working from home is not for everyone.
Working from home, like many things in life, is not one-size-fits-all. This setup may work for some people but may not be the best choice for others.
Though this work option is still up to the management, it is best to consider what will work best for each employee because the absence of a remote work opportunity has been a deal-breaker for many.
On the other hand, it is also the responsibility of the employee working from home to ensure that the quality of work is maintained at a high level if they ever prefer to work remotely.
Whichever work mode you prefer, it is always a good reminder that not everyone is privileged to work from home, so be grateful if you have that opportunity.