“At Work,” a blog from the Wall Street Journal, just reported on a new study by The Conference Board research group about the rise in telecommuting. “The number of employees who work remotely has jumped significantly over the last decade, nearly doubling among all full-time, non-self-employed U.S. workers,” it states. Moreover, 84% of people who worked remotely, either from home or another location, did so at least once a week. That’s up from 72% in 2008.
Along with these growing stats, the research offers a few of the pros that result from working out of a home office, such as increased focus, which can lead to better productivity. Cons, of course, included feeling out of the loop and burned out because of the fuzzy line between “home” and “work.”
Are you part of this growing trend? What are the positives? The negatives? Let us know in the comment section, then take a look at a few thoughts from some telecommuters (and some in-the-know self-employed workers) we’ve featured here on Lifework.
PR Consultant Melissa Riche on the advantages of working from home: “It gives me flexibility and freedom to do what I want when I want. I can work early in the morning or late in the evening. I don’t get constant interruptions from other people. I control my own noise level — I can play music if I want, and I don’t have to listen to other people’s chatter. I can wear what I want and I can bring my dog to work! I can eat lunch at home and save lots of money. I don’t have to take time traveling to work, sitting in rush-hour traffic.”
Jennifer Kennard of Letterology on the obstacles: “I find the most difficult thing about working from home is balancing the work part from the living part. I love what I do, but it consumes much of my life right now. I try to take breaks to either go for a daily walk or a run or meet up with friends when I can. Some of my work is self-imposed, but [my] teaching [job] consumes a tremendous amount of time. When I’m not teaching, there is new software to learn, and maintenance to be performed. It’s a constant task having to be your own IT person, too—or MT—a misinformation technologist, in my case.”
Designer Jason Munn on the challenges he faced transitioning from working in a design firm to a home-based office: “The biggest drawback for me about working from home versus in a design firm is the lack of communication or feedback while you are working on project. More and more I miss that aspect of a studio. Dirk Fowler, another designer and friend of mine who also works from home, and I often send images of what we are working on back and forth to get feedback or advice from each other …. I think the distractions of working in a firm versus working at home probably balance out. In the long run, I feel I have less distractions. I do miss the commute to work a little bit, as I used to walk to work and that was perfect for starting the day. Now if I have any errands or anything like that, I typically do them first thing in the morning, so that becomes my commute.”
Architect Matt Gagnon on the ideal home/work space: “I think living above the store would be an ideal scenario. It is necessary to create boundaries when living and working in close proximity. The ability to lock up work and go ‘home’ would make the distinctions between work and play easier to communicate to oneself as well as to the rest of the family.”
Architect Bruce Bolander on balance and not bringing work “home”: “I have a separate studio that is about 100 feet away from my house. Every once in a while, my kids pop in after school and sometimes some of them will spend the afternoon in the studio working on their homework. But once I cross the driveway and head back into the house, I am home for the evening.”
Rob Ford of the Favourite Website Awards on scouting out the right setting: “Finding a location in the countryside, with stunning views and excellent dog walks, was crucial when we moved. Being able to relax and suck in clean air is essential for anyone working from home. It’s also highly inspirational, as walking stimulates parts of the creative side of my brain that sitting in front of the computer tries to kill.”
Technologist Chris Pirillo on having a personal office space: “It’s perfect for me in the way I’ve set it up. In a traditional office environment, you never come close to what you need, what you want, how you want it to be – no matter how much you rearrange things or add items. It’s always just an office created by someone else for you to use. For me, my space is ME — through and through.”
Designer Cameron Moll on why he needed a dedicated workspace: “My workspace is a continual work in progress. I’ve worked out of the home both times [I've been freelance], and my office has usually been tucked away in the corner of our master bedroom. This doesn’t yield a lot of room, figuratively and literally, to be all that creative. Only recently did I finally secure a room in the house as a dedicated office. I’m still defining what I’d like that space to be.
Boing Boing Founder Mark Frauenfelder on what’s great: “I don’t have to commute to work. It would kill me to have to drive on the LA freeways every day.”
Photos: Linked to their sources; top photo: office of Bruce Bolander