Note: This is a post from Joan Concilio, Man Vs. Debt community manager. Read more about Joan.
As of July 1, ALL of my income will come from self-employment. Many of you who’ve read previous posts know that I’ve juggled full-time and part-time jobs and side hustles for several years, but now, the “job” piece will become another contracted project, and I’ll officially be freelancing everything.
Thinking about that made me look back on the past two years of my life, when I’ve transitioned from a 55-hour-a-week office job to working almost entirely from home. Even my “job work” has been done primarily at home, and while some of my contract work still needs to be done on-site for various clients, mostly, my home is my workplace! (As evidenced by the photo above, which is really me, really working, really in my pajamas – you know I love you guys, to let you see me that way!)
As I was thinking about this transition, it’s become clear to me that even on the “worst” days, I love being at home.
1. Lower costs
Working as a freelancer does have added costs (if it needs to be purchased, it’s on me!) but the tax deductions make that a wash. In general, though, working from home saves money in several ways.
- No commute! (In my case, this is NOT a huge savings, as I literally live one block from my old office, but it’s an overall good point!)
- Few demands on your wardrobe. I hated buying “work clothes” that I didn’t wear outside of work. While I tried to minimize that as much as possible, it’s been nice to cut that expense to a bare minimum. And unlike the photo above suggests, I don’t usually work in PJs – but I do wear jeans almost exclusively.
- Less temptation to spend needlessly on food. Bad day in the office? Our solution was to go out to lunch, or to hit the office vending machines. Now, I’m home, surrounded by the food I’ve already paid for at the grocery store with little to no need to go get more! Nor are there those ambiguous not-quite-working lunch meetings that you feel bad if you miss, but that cost $10 to $20 a pop.
2. Increased flexibility and comfort
This goes beyond just the stereotypical pajamas thing I’ve mentioned.
I’m always cold. ALWAYS. It sounds like a silly thing, but working in an office, with a temperature set to 70 degrees year-round, was like working in a freezer to me. I get so much more done in my own home, because I’m not COLD! (And if I am chilly, I can wrap up in a big comfy blanket!)
I can even work curled up on the couch with one of my cats at my feet. I couldn’t do that even in the most forward-thinking office on earth! And you guys know how much I love my cats…
3. Being interrupted
That’s not a joke. I like that my family and friends interrupt me while I’m working. Especially since we homeschool, but even separately from that, it’s important to me that my family knows they can talk to me and come get me if something semi-urgent comes up.
My definition of “semi-urgent” isn’t high, either. Often, it’s, “Hey, Mom, come look at this praying mantis in the garden!” Sometimes I might have to say, “Hey, I’m writing something that I need to finish. I’ll be there in a few minutes if I can.” But more often, I’m blessed to be able to say, “Whoa! Let me save this draft and I’ll come see!”
I’ve said in other places that the reason I work from home is that I believe being with my daughter is important. I don’t schedule “office hours” like many work-at-home parents do, not because I think they’re a bad idea, but because I could have stayed in my office, making more money and keeping a more consistent schedule, if that was what I wanted.
Instead, I’m able to show Sarah through my actions that I’m always available for her. And when I do go back to work after an “interruption” like that, it’s almost always with a positive, rejuvenated attitude.
I’m not saying that working from home is perfect. I live in fear of the times I can’t mute my conference call soon enough and my dog’s enormous bark interrupts it. I sometimes bemoan the fact that I don’t have an office – or a door to shut; private calls end with me outside, or sitting in my bedroom.
It’s not always ideal, but it’s good. It’s really good.
What about you? Do you work from home, all the time or occasionally?
Do you have questions about HOW to approach your company about working from home (something I plan to share in a future post)?
Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
53 thoughts on “3 Great Things About Working From Home”
Joan! Love this, and it’s so timely, because as of tomorrow, I will work from home too!!! Woohoo! I am finally leaving my 55 hour a week office job too, and in big part because of my kids, who I feel really need more of me — and also because I just want to follow my bliss. And balance and family is part of my bliss.
I was terrified to bring up my desire to work from home. But the truth was, as much as I didn’t want to be here, it showed. And so when I finally brought it up, I think my boss was a little relieved, and she was therefore very very generous (giving me a story a month to write for at least six months to ease the transition) and I was able to leave on a truly positive note.
Also — I REALLY believe that although I had a pretty high salary, my family will be better off financially. Why? Because we paid through the nose to work — both of us, late hours, juggling sitters and daycare and aftercare and two very expensive commutes, and 2 people eating out for lunch every day and keeping NYC appropriate business clothes — we had to spend as much as we did because we were SO overwhelmed and just couldn’t even spare the time or mental space to manage to make our own lunches. So we threw money at everything and always overspent. I will have the time and calm now to actually live intentionally, follow a budget, and live on less.
I have yet to do it, but I believe … I really believe this will be great.
Can you tell that I’m smiling?
Now, back to my last day of work.
Gillian, YAY!!!! I am so, so happy for you – and I hope you’re now home and enjoying it (since I’m late replying!)
Definitely keep us posted on how it’s going. I think you and I have much the same mindset – I was also on to throw money at things that I didn’t have the mental bandwidth for, and that is slowly but surely easing up!!
First, I adore that picture! I worked for several large corporations over the last 35-years…all in large office buildings. I can relate to everything you say about that type of work environment. I loved much of my work-life in an office, especially the pump you get from being recognized for good work.
Last October saw my last job end; I knew it would end for the proceeding five years…just never knew the date. I was one of six remaining employees in a wind-down operation. I’ve been working on my blog full-time since then. Here’s my experience so far…
– I used to get into the office around 9:00 am. Now I jump out of bed by 5:30 am and start working in my PJs…I must admit that there are days I don’t get out of them…something I need to change!
– I, too, eat better for less cost–BUT–I tend to “graze” more on carbs I DON’T need. They’re in the house because Mr. M likes them otherwise I wouldn’t even bring them in.
– My schedule has been turned upside down and I’m finding it difficult to get my exercise in…I thought I’d do more working at home, but it turns out that I’m so engaged in what I’m doing that I never get up (except to raid the pantry!).
In general, I’m crazy happy with my new life. I start a contract job on Monday where I’ll have to go into an office M-F. I’m grateful for the work, but I don’t know how to manage that along with keeping my blog active…we’ll see how I do!
Ree ~ I blog at EscapingDodge.com
It’s definitely an adaptation – there are BAD things, or harder-than-I-thought things, too. (Like: I have to spend more time cleaning the house, because we spend more time using the house – because my mother retired, and we started homeschooling, so we essentially added THREE people full-time at home instead of one!)
I hope the contract job goes well – and that you find a way to balance blogging! It’s certainly not easy!
I plan on making the freelance switch, and then I will be working from home all of the time. I honestly cannot wait, and posts like these get me amped!
Michelle, glad to help keep you pumped up! Go for it!
I’m working at home, and loving every moment of it. I get to work in my PJ’s and no one cares! No more 2 hour commutes, no more annoying colleagues – just me and my job.
Troy, I couldn’t even imagine a two-hour commute!!
I love this. I’ve recently started taking the steps to build my freelance copy-writing career so that I can work from home. Basically want to set my lifestyle to revolve around spending time with my future kids. The idea of leaving my house at 7:30am and coming home at 7:30pm sounds like no life to me. This daily commute from NJ to NYC is exhausting!
Great inspirational post! Keep ’em coming! 🙂
Good for you, Janice! And I cannot imagine what that life would look like with kids… I am very glad that I live in a place where even a “bad” commute doesn’t involve bumper-to-bumper traffic!
The thing I noticed about working from home was that I stopped putting on weight. All the temptions of the vending machine were gone. Plus I schedule in a walk too just so I’m not tied to the desk all day long.
Yes Gee, walks are a must!!
I work out of my home 80%, coffee shops 10%, and local library 10%.
I have to sometimes choose to get out and drive (even if it’s just making a bank deposit) because it will be 3pm and I haven’t left the house yet.
ABSOLUTELY! And I make it a point to work outdoors when I can (thanks to my trusty laptop!) If I wanted to sit in a room all day, I could stay at the office 🙂
Because of Aspergers and anxiety issues, I don’t have a choice anymore; I have to work from home. Tons of people on the spectrum have meaningful careers and work outside their homes, so this in no way reflects on your daughter’s potential. Had I known at an early age that I had Aspergers, and had support resources been available back then (I’m 42 now), things would have been different for me. But now I’m kind of playing catch up, and trying to finally settle into a career.
What no one seems to be mentioning is what they do from home. What kind of work do you do? Do you work for a large corporation that gave you the option of working from home? Did you turn your skills into a freelance career? Do you worry about finding the next client? I’m starting a freelance business as a content writer for websites. I’ve already done some projects, but I do have concerns about dry spells.
Which is why I’m developing some other income sources so that I’m not dependent on just my content writing work. I think that’s really important. Anyway, great post. Thanks for the inspiration!
Carla, those are GREAT questions about what type of work and how to find it. (I see a future post coming!) In my case, it’s a mix – work I used to do in an office that, after many years, worked out that I could do somewhat remotely; plus a lot of online stuff that came kind of indirectly from that skillset, and from networking. Dry spells haven’t been a concern YET – in fact, overwork has been, blessedly – but I have some ideas in place for when they hit.
So all that said, YES to a future post on this topic! And you can always feel free to email me at joan at manvsdebt dot com and keep me posted on how things are going with you!
Ahhh! I cherish the days when I was able to work from home. It was so simple no interruptions. Believe me people wanting to chit chat about what was on TV last night takes up a lot of your day. I felt more productive both with work and home life. I would take 15 minutes to walk around the block in my neighborhood and enjoy it. Instead of hanging out at the water cooler or coffee pot at the office. I would hang out in my kitchen or doing laundry during lunch. The saving of not commuting was big sometimes $100 a week I could save. Plus I ate better and lost weight lol. It just seem to get more out of it. My job is a regular corporate job where if your not doing your work it gets noticed (or tracked). But I have the same job just a different boss and she is not to keen on working from home. So I travel 70-148 miles a day. But some day I know I will be back home working at what I love and enjoying it.
Not sure how to turn what I do into a free lance career. Maybe I should research that a little or maybe you can do an article on that??
Tina, that is definitely related to Carla’s question above, and a great topic for a future post! If you don’t mind me asking, what types of work do you do, or in what industry? I’ve got in mind that I need to vary any future posts to make sure to address as many different fields as possible!
I’ve been working towards this goal for a few years now. Not so easy to work from home. I’m a chemist at a powerplant. Not exactly a work from home job. That said, all our extra dimes go towards building passive income towards that eventual goal. We both plan on retiring by 40. Next I am trying to convince my wife on the benefits of home school.
Now THAT is an industry in which I’m pretty sure working from home doesn’t work too well! 😉
I have worked at home since 1995 (since before it was *fashionable* haha) yay me, and I am spoiled. I wanted to comment on a different, yet same, aspect of working at home. In 1999 my mother, 72 had brain surgery and after that she could no longer drive, so she sold her house (about an hour away) and moved in with me. (I opted out of kids, I have dogs). Two and a half years later she had a serious stroke. I am so grateful for those years we had together before the end, they were SO much more than the time we would have had together during the monthly visits we had had. The simple everyday things, swimming in the pool, playing with the dogs, running to the store, eating ice cream and just laughing. It wasn’t always easy, mother and daughter under the same roof again after 25 years. But I remember knowing that many people have parents who are actively dying of something, and they can’t be “with” them more, because of jobs, and kids and spouses, and because she moved in with me AND I worked at home, I was able to be with her more doing just the everyday stuff, and it was such a blessing. Even more so in retrospect. Here’s to family of every age 😀
For those who want to know what I do, I have a small local advertising publication and taught myself everything. I am now working on how to duplicate it so I can give other people a job working at home. My goal is to literally create jobs.
Kathleen, that is an AWESOME story. My mother lives with me and while she is in good health generally, she is 78 and I definitely treasure the time we can spend together because I know it won’t last 30 more years!
You are so right – the people matter so much!
Thank you so much for this today! And, so timely for me too. I had to move my office home last month becaue of a budget change. The transition has been both difficult and wonderful. Difficult, because even though I’m only technically required to work 10 hours a week, it feels like my work is staring at me all. the. time. It has also been wonderful, though, for all the reasons you list. My kiddos (almost 12 and 10) are out for summer break, so that has been a transition having them around all the time and resisting the temptation to plop them in front of Netflix or an electronic device to get my stuff done…I have had to get more creative and flexible to say the least! Do you (or anyone else) have any thought on the boundary issues when you have a small house or struggle to feeling like I can never escape my work? I am also applying for a new job that will require 20 to 25 hours in my home office, and I want to have a better perspective since this ‘work from home’ thing is so new.
Carol, that’s a great question. I’m going to try to tackle it more in some upcoming posts that these comments have sparked, but my short answer is, I also struggle in this area, in large part because I work for about 8 different clients, and one of them ALWAYS seems to want something. And I know that the nickel-and-dime stuff adds up; I have two jobs that have a minimum hours agreement, and I’m always, always over, but almost never in big projects, but in 15 minutes here or there to answer a question or fix a glitch or something like that.
And it’s hard – because I am that person who wants to respond quickly. But I told my husband the other day, when he had a vacation week – “I am NEVER off!” So that’s a topic we can all work on together!
I look forward to some ideas! As it turns out, I didn’t get the 20 to 25 hour job, so I don’t have to worry about trying to fit that into my life. (I actually retracted my application because the whole thing was simply way too much to take on.) And, my current boss said I could stop worrying about a formal 10 hours a week as long as the job is completed within the scope of my responsibilities. This is immensely helping for the summer and travelling and kiddo management, as I can do more here and there without feeling like I have to conjure up hours for which I really have limited tasks to fill the time.
So that leaves my own writing and the never ending self-driven pressure to ‘get it done’….and I’m always ‘behind’…..I’m a little (alot?) ADD and highly distractable….getting better about setting simple daily goals….on we go!!
I work from home, but in a regular 8-5 capacity for a large company. I still love it though and really enjoy the flexibility. My children still have to go to daycare while I’m working because I need to be fully available online (and ready to jump onto conference calls) for my company during normal business hours. I used to have an hour commute each way into the office, but now I’m 5 minutes from them and can spend more time each day with them. Also, the savings from eating lunches and gas has been huge. I’m so so grateful!
It is definitely an improvement, right?! I’m lucky, because I don’t have young children – I have the same requirement for conference calls and availability, but since Sarah is 13, it’s kind of a nonissue! (And, it’s been funny in a way – she broke her arm this week and is much less self-sufficient than I’m used to, and it’s been eye-opening to remember what having a younger child was like!)
This is a hot topic around me these days – a lot of my friends are working from home and some of them rave about it and some of them feel like they have to go back to working in the office. I would love to save the money on lunches and snacks, AND eat healthier though. That itself would be worth it.
Alice, that’s definitely made a HUGE difference for me!
I work from home for a large corporation. The company does provide a computer and phone and internet. Our production at home is higher than if it was in the office because we do not have has many interruptions. And we are expected to find childcare and not be a babysitter during working hours. When you work for a large corporation from home, expectations are a little higher because you don’t have as many interruptions. But I’m home in my lounge wear everyday. And to me that is the best benefit.
Mary, I don’t know if I’d say expectations are higher – I think they’re just different and maybe stricter. My freelance work for corporations is definitely different (and so was my former work-from-home-for-a-corporation work), but I think the expectations from my personal clients are probably even higher, because they don’t understand that they’re NOT my only clients, you know? It’s definitely a hard balancing act – but you’re right, loungewear? YES!! 🙂
I was let go of my job 2 days ago because of “performance”. Okay, I guess coming in early, leaving late, offering to help at every whim and whatever isn’t enough anymore to “fit” the job. I’m growing tired of not “fitting in” at these jobs, tireless commutes, always hoping the job I finished was good enough and more. I want to become an freelance web developer and writer, but I’m not sure how to get my foot in the freelance pond. I’ve been creating website since I was 14 and doing it free for people for years. I’m ready to turn my creativeness and hard work into something I can be proud of and survive off of. So any tips you can share about starting up and success stories, I would appreciate very much. Take care and don’t work to hard!
Kimmy, that stinks about your job, I am sorry!
I’ve actually got posts coming up during the next few weeks about how to find clients, the types of work you can do from home, and so on. These comments have fueled a lot of questions and ideas!
Haha, I think the being cold thing holds true for a bunch of workplaces. A lady that used to sit in my row would blast her heater in the middle of July and August! I’d have to combat her by turning the fan under my desk on full blast. I would LOVE the freedom to work in my gym shorts and tshirt all day. That sounds awesome. Not nearly at the point where I can escape the cubicle, but hopefully one day 🙂
Hey, at least I am not alone! I feel like everyone in most offices is either cold or hot. It doesn’t seem like there’s a happy medium!
Your post is kind of timely for me too…. I have a deadline coming up, and hopefully (actually, I should say probably) I will be working from home ONLY as of August 1st.
I have been on a medical leave of absence from my JOB at the hated Bank, and 24 months is all that they will allow you to have. After that, you either come back to work or part ways. And August 1 will be my 24 months.
I have been basically working for the past year trying to build up my business that I run out of my home, trying to get to a place where it can support me. I think I am nearly there, and I think that I will be taking the leap — even though there are those around me who say to “play it safe” and go back to the job.
I can’t imagine going back though. I only worked them for 5 years, but I really think it was unhealthy for me working there. Working for myself I can do things at my own pace – and when I have days where I don’t feel so well, I can go back to bed for a nap or to a Pilates class to energize myself and get some of the kinks out of my body.
I love being my own boss, setting my own priorities, and doing things that satisfy me. Working from home also allows me to do have a “side hustle” that I love – and that is boarding dogs in my home. I love dogs so much, and I love having them around… they give me the motivation to get out and walk, and they keep me company while I work. I enjoy that so much, and I wouldn’t be able to do it if I had to be at work 8-10 hours every day.
I can’t ever imagine going back to punching a time clock again!!
Martha – I so agree. Some days are just better than others. If I am having an “off” day, low energy, stress from something personal, I LOVE that can (frankly) TAKE A NAP :o) I love that I can NOT work Wednesday if I choose, and then work Friday night til 4 am, if I am on a roll. I also have dogs of my own. When I had a regular job I did not feel it was fair to have one and then leave it alone while I was at work all day. Within a year of starting my business in 95 a friend picked-up a pregnant stray and one puppie adopted me. I now have 3 (large) dogs and I love to be with them too. I am sending you good vibes for only smooth sailing and luck with your transition.
From the Philippines here, you’re an inspiration to people who wants to be free from this institutional bondage of the corporate world. I hope you could inspire more more to liberate themselves and live their lives according to their self defined purpose in life. I hope to see this work from home in my country. Maybe you could share some source of internet based jobs wherein we could work from home. This is very inspiring! More power!
That is actually a topic I plan to write more about in a few weeks! I hope it will be helpful!
Not to state the obvious, but working from a home office is the best thing that could ever happen to an entrepreneurial minded individual. Once I became a dad, and my schedule became “less than normal”, I found that I work best from 9pm-3am. A total mind shift from the 8-6 corp. marketing jobs that I had over the last decade.
My takeaway from this: Find your most productive times and use them diligently.
VERY MUCH agree. I am definitely a night owl – and it works for me!
I love working at home for very similar reasons. It’s great to be able to lounge in my lazyboy or turn some music on. Also, I feel like I can keep the house a bit cleaner if I’m at home. Most nights after working at the office I don’t feel like cleaning, but if I’ve been home all day then I’m more apt to want to pick up the place.
Jake, completely agree.
I actually clean and/or do house chores between job tasks.
Some say this is a counterproductive measure.
But my focus time on a single task is only an hour or less. After that the rule of marginal utility kicks in and I get less and less production from time spent in a task.
So breaking and switching to something else (could be a quick sweep, a walk, feeding the dog, etc.) gives the brain a quick break before getting back into the next Groove…
I very much agree on both those points. I need to mix up “concentrating” tasks (like writing) with “mental break” tasks like loading the dishwasher, so that’s great for me too, Brooks!
And Jake, you are absolutely right – when you spend all day in a space, you do have that motivation to keep it a bit nicer!
I think that there are thousands and thousands of jobs held right now that COULD be done from home, but the employer doesn’t allow it. My opinion is that some people work better and are even more productive working from home, so I think it is something every company should entertain. The company might even be able to save some expenses because they don’t have an employee using a desk and office supplies, but that delves into a whole other conversation.
Everyone has their own style for working from home. I have done it for over 8 years now, and my best suggestion is to find your own routine. You can become very productive when you’re the only one driving your schedule, vs. a boss telling you what to do IF, (and only if) you have the discipline to get stuff done on your own.
I love to see people leaving “employment” to explore passions that afford them lifestyles generated by self employment income.
Brian, I DO wish more companies would look into it! And I agree – you have to know your style and your habits if you want to be successful!
I’m working from home part time as well and I absolutely agree with you in the first two points.
But I hate being interrupted by my family. When I’m working (blogging, learning how to code, and doing other geeky stuff) I’m focussing so deeply on my work, that I need about 20 minutes after a break to get as efficient as I was before the break.
Don’t get me wrong, the ability to spend time with your family and to take breaks whenever you want is awesome! But I like to have control over my breaks 🙂
Overall, I can’t imagine to become a full-time employee ever again. Working from home in my own internet business really brought joy back to my life!
Jan, I think a lot of that depends on what you do. Most of the time, I’m glad to be interrupted. Occasionally, if I’m doing something detailed or technical, I will go work somewhere other than where I normally work (in the center of our first floor, most of the time) – because you’re right, there are those things where it’s really hard to get back into the groove of! I’m finding that I’m getting better at that with practice, though – more and more things I can pick back up on faster, which surprised me!
Great post! I do work from home and I love not to have to buy wlothes for work, I always hated that! I feel free of it. However I alse feel that, even if not beeing interrupted is great, you get a little isolated some times.
Mariana, that’s a worry for a lot of people, I know! I have friends who go to a coworking space locally for that reason. (In my case, we have seven people living in our house and I’m on the phone with conference calls most days, so I don’t notice it quite so much!)
Mariana, Isolation is my biggest struggle as well.
I have to mix up my locations because of it — hotel lobbies, restaurants with WiFi, my business partner’s house, coffee shops, etc.
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Cold offices are the worst! I kept a heater under my desk for the longest time until I blew a fuse….Oops!! I look forward to working from the road in areas I find comfort and at times of inspiration.
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