Though waking up fifteen minutes before a business meeting and working while wearing your bunny slippers and a bathrobe sounds like a fantastic day – and it may be great initially –turning your home into your office as a permanent setup might not be the best option in the long run.
Marissa Mayer, Yahoo! CEO, is the first name that comes to mind when we think of work-from-home naysayers. When she called all of the Yahoo! tech employees back to their offices, they were not thrilled and called her old fashioned and unsympathetic. However, with a further look into the subject, maybe she had a point.
The following five drawbacks to working from home may make you think twice.
1. Working from home can be harmful to your health
When we commute to an office we are forced out of bed and out the door. We get out of our home, move our bodies and meet people. If you take public transportation or if you have some walking to do or stairs to climb to get to your desk, you get some exercise. Getting out and about also means interacting with the barista where you buy your morning latte and with people in the same office space as you. Let’s start with the social aspect.
According to Dr. Matthew Lieberman, UCLA neuroscientist, social interaction is just as important as food and shelter in terms of the human species’ survival. Given this information, it is probably safe to say that getting out of the house may not just be a step in the right direction for mankind but also for your own well-being.
Additionally, in terms of exercise, let’s be honest. While some of us are the kind of people who will wake up and throw on running gear and head out the door, others of us get the bulk of our exercise between the front door of our house, the car door and our desk. Now remove that commute. If you think you will stick to the workout plan or morning walk you have committed to before sitting down with your laptop on the sofa, stop and think about whether or not you fall into the two-thirds of people in the U.S. who pay for gym memberships but do not actually use them. Simply put, it is easier to get some exercise in during the day when exercise is how you get from point A to point B and not a pastime in your day that you can simply skip.
2. The office is less stressful than home
According to Dr. Sarah Damaske, labor and employment relations researcher at Pennsylvania State University, people have lower levels of stress at work than at home. Think about it. Do you have kids, a spouse, a roommate, a pet, chores, or nosy neighbors to deal with at home? All of these people and duties require time and energy and when you are sitting at home, those duties are staring you in the face. When you sit down to get work done but you remember you need to do some laundry and then realize your hubby forgot his wallet on the counter before heading out the door, there is an urge to take care of those duties and then you have to choose between work and home. Do you have kids? Even if you have a babysitter there while you are tucked away in your office working, will this really stop your three-year-old from peeping through the keyhole and singing you songs or simply barging in because he really needed a hug after the babysitter refused to cut the crust off his sandwich?
3. Less benefit of peers’ creative input and help
Working from home can be especially detrimental to the quality of outcomes and long-term innovation. While Google Hangouts, Skype, various text-based messaging apps and programs, e-mail, cellphones and other platforms facilitate communication between people, tech cannot replace face-to-face interaction.
The difference between face-to-face and in-person interaction is as follows. Imagine you are at the coffee machine in the office and you are visibly frustrated. A coworker sees you and asks what is wrong, you tell them, they start brainstorming creative solutions with you or they know the answer to your problem and help you. You got the help you needed and maybe even got some creative juices flowing without having to ask. If you are at home, you have to ask for help and hope a peer is available to answer. Even if you are a freelancer, getting a membership at a co-working space can create this same environment of support rather than sitting at home on your island googling what to do or following Youtube tutorials.
4. Relationships with customers and peers will suffer
Do you meet with clients? Do you have peers or partners in your business? When you have a permanent place where people can meet you, it is simply easier to meet. Person-to-person interaction is where personal conversations about holiday family shenanigans and favorite sports teams come up – the stuff that building trust is made of. It is where you get a chance to learn about people’s needs – both of business partners and of clients – so that you are better informed on how to solidify or build more of these loyalties to your business.
Being out in front of people also means there are more eyes on your business. People will know about your business and ask you about it. Considering 92 percent of consumers trust word-of-mouth marketing over traditional advertising, as found by a Nielsen study, it is important to be out there in a location where people can stop in or where you can hang a sign with your logo to stimulate brand recognition. Think about it. When you car shop, do you go for the dealership that you have seen a thousand times and that your best friend says provided a good shopping experience or do you go to the one you looked up online that you and your network know nothing about? Be the one people see and talk about. If you can do that from your sofa, great. If you cannot, it might be time to explore other options.
5. You are limiting your business by not looking like a business
This is not shocking but it is a fact. You probably cannot have a group meeting in your living room or have clients pick up products at your front door while maintaining a truly professional image. It can make people question the legitimacy of your business and your seriousness as a professional. For just this reason alone some businesses get memberships at co-working spaces or rent by-the-hour meeting rooms because the last thing you want to do is look like an amateur when you are trying to grow a client base.
If you had your sights set on those meetings in your bunny slippers and bathrobe, this is not to say the occasional work-from-home day will kill your business or effectiveness at your job; however, keep in mind the myriad benefits that come from being around people and getting out of the house when considering what address to put on your business card.
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