I recently had a conversation with a friend about the advantages & disadvantages of working from home compared to working from an office. A case can be made for either side, and since I have been on both sides of the fence myself, I think I can provide a unique perspective to this debate. Today, I will be looking at the benefits of working from home:

Save time on commuting
The average commuting time to work is approx. 30-45 min. At one point, I had a 90 min. commute. Multiply that by two to get back home at the end of the day, and you have spent close to 10% of your day just on transportation. Working from home makes you save all of this time. This can help you get a little bit more sleep in the morning and have more time for yourself in the evening for activities & leisure.

Save money on transportation
If you work from home, you may not even need a car altogether. This can save you $300-400 a month plus the costly gas, parking, and insurance expenses. Simply not taking the bus or subway will save you $50-100 per month in bus tickets or passes. Arguably the biggest money saving benefit from working at home is the transportation cost savings.

Save money on lunches & shopping
I remember that one of the biggest expenses I had working from an office was on food. You get fed up of packing a lunch after a while, and once you start eating out, it’s very hard to stop! Not only that, but just walking around stores and boutiques during breaks, you are more likely to spend money that you normally wouldn’t if you were working from home. Plus, at home, you can be more creative with your lunches, and it will never feel like a “packed lunch”. So not only you save money, but you eat healthier as well.

Less likely to get sick
When I would take public transit to work, I would get sick at least twice per year. That’s just transit. There is also the threat of getting sick at the office, where if one person has a virus, it’s almost impossible not to get it. I would lose about 7-10 days per year on sick days, something that I never encountered working from home. This also makes you save money on health costs since you are not in need of medication or doctor visits as frequently.

Expenses are deductible
This can work for both employees or self employed people. You can deduct your internet, phone, supplies, and even the square footage that you use in your home to work. For self employed, it’s a must, and for employees, you can always ask for your company to pay for your internet access, phone line, and supplies. This saves you the cost of having those items also as personal expenses since you already have it for business usage in your home.

More flexible schedule

When working from home, you are not under the same discipline as office workers where you absolutely need to be working from 9 to 5 every weekday. Chances are, your schedule at home is much easier to bend. Therefore, if you have appointments or you need to buy something at the store quickly, you do not need to take a day off from work. I know some office workers that have to take a day off from work if they want to do some personal shopping or errands, otherwise they just do not have the time outside work hours. It’s much easier to tie in your personal schedule with your work schedule when you work from home.

Less stress & anxiety
Just off the top of my head, I can think of at least 5 people I know that had to take extended time off from work due to stress, burnouts, and the likes. I’ve never ever heard of that from anyone working from home. An office can bring about a lot of competition, gossip, and backstabbing among co-workers. This type of environment takes its toll after a while both mentally and physically. Working from home will save you these headaches.

Increased productivity
With all the time that you are saving from not having to commute to work, and not socializing half the day with co-workers, you end up getting a lot more done when you are working from home. As long as you remain motivated and driven, working from home is much more effective to deliver results.

Less negative influences
Sadly, an office is riddled with a few people that take joy into bringing everyone around them down. This is not done by the gossiping & competition I talked about above. This is the lingo that is used daily by people in the office. Some people will just complain about everything and it affects the psyche of everyone around them. I have seen people with great potential have their momentum & motivation completely destroyed in a matter of weeks simply because they were spending their breaks and lunches with these office “parasites” that will badmouth the company at any given opportunity. When working from home, you do not have to deal with these types of people. You only have to answer to yourself, and as long as you keep a positive outlook, you will have nothing to worry about.

Closer relationship with kids/family

Obviously, if you are home more often, you will dramatically increase the chances of spending quality time with your loved ones, and at the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want? I know I would have loved for my parents to have been home more often when I was a kid, so this is a huge positive that cannot be denied. Working from home allows you to have such freedom which you just cannot put a price tag on.

As you can see, there are many advantages to working from home. Tomorrow, I will be doing the reverse and looking at the positives & benefits of working in an office environment. Check back tomorrow for what will be an interesting comparison ;)

(update 6/25/2008 – check out the follow up article The Advantages of Working from an Office)