10 benefits and drawbacks of working from home

When you go self-employed, you’re faced with a choice - rent an office space or work from home?

For many, it makes sense to work from home at the start, but when your business really takes off and you need to think about next steps, it’s worth considering whether home working is sustainable for you in the long term.

We’ve listed ten advantages and disadvantages of working from home to help you decide what kind of space would work best for you.

Advantages of working from home

For some self-employed people, a home office is the best solution. Here are some of the main advantages of working from home over working elsewhere.

1. It cuts out the commute

Commuting can be a real drag. Whether it’s an hour and a half drive or a 20 minute walk, it takes time out of your day that you’ll never get back - and that’s not even taking into account however long it takes to get ready before you leave.

When you work from home, you can be at your desk (or wherever you like to work from), checking your emails within a few minutes of waking up, or relaxing with a coffee pre-work instead of stuck in traffic or crammed into a tube carriage.

2. It costs less

Office space can get expensive, depending on your particular needs, and if you’re just working by yourself it can feel like an unnecessary extravagance.

Whether you work from home or rent office space, you can claim some of the costs back, either as part of your tax-deductible self-employed expenses or as part of your capital allowance, but you can’t claim for buying or building a business premises.

3. It give you more flexibility with your home life

Sometimes, there are things you just need to be at home for. Whether it’s waiting in for the plumber or looking after poorly children, if you’re working from home anyway then you have the flexibility to deal with the unexpected.

On top of that, there are the everyday tasks you can fit in around your work. If there are periods of time you know you’ll be waiting, you can easily pop in a load of laundry or do the dishes then get back to work.

4. You can set it up however you want

People can be very particular with how they like to work. Maybe you need to be surrounded by plants, or keep your office environment at a certain temperature. Maybe you even work best curled up on the sofa with your laptop of your lap.

Office spaces - particularly shared office spaces - can have rather more constraints on what you are and aren’t allowed to do. Plus, if you invest in decorating a rented space and then have to move out of it, you’ll be out of pocket in terms of time and effort, as well as money.

5. It’s more eco-friendly

Whether you drive or use public transport to get to your office, you’re expanding your carbon footprint. Working from home automatically takes that out of the equation.

In a rented office space, you’ll also be subject to the ecological practices of the whole building. They may not recycle or use particularly energy-efficient practices. When you work from home, you have much more control over how green your work can be.

Disadvantages of working from home

There are, however, a number of disadvantages of working from home which mean it won’t work as a long-term solution for some people. Here are the downsides you should consider before setting up a home office.

1. You can get easily distracted

Whether it’s children, pets, or that slightly odd noise your boiler keeps making, it can be a lot easier to be torn away from your work in the comforts of your own home than in the cool confines of a professional office.

And comfort can be part of the problem. While there might not be anything in particular happening that makes you divert from work, the fact you’re in your home surroundings may tempt you into relaxation, and before you know it you’re checking Facebook instead of getting on with things.

If you know you’re prone to distraction, setting up a space in your home that is just for work may make it easier to separate your work and home life.

2. You can become isolated

When you work on your own it’s easy to become shut off from the world around you, and even more so when you’re not leaving the house for work.

If you tend to get stir crazy or need the buzz of other people around you, it may be better to look into shared office spaces - or plan lots of events and get-togethers outside of your work to make sure you’re getting the right dose of socialisation.

3. It’s harder to switch off

It’s 7pm and you get an email from a client. Do you open it? If you open it, do you respond? And if they ask you for a piece of work, do you get started on it?

When you leave an office at 5 on the dot it’s easy to declare work over for the day, but when you work from home those boundaries can get rather blurred.

It’s important to make sure you have down time from your work, so much like those who’re easily distracted, setting up a designated area in your house for work can help make the work/home boundary more distinct.

4. It’s easy to stagnate

When you work outside of your own home, each day brings many more experiences than if you don’t leave. Whether it an interesting - or at least unusual - occurrence on your commute, a conversation you have, or just seeing something other than the four walls you live in, the little differences in your day can help stop you from getting into a rut.

If you do work from home, make sure to get up and see the outside world every now and then, whether that’s sitting in the garden for a while or going for a short walk.

5. It’s harder to accommodate clients and employees

One of the biggest downsides to a home office is the issue of clients and employees. At the start of self-employed life you may not want to take on any employees, but meeting clients could be important for your business.

Coming across as professional can be important for securing business, which for some types of work could well rule out meeting at your house. If you have an office space, that problem is immediately solved. However, you can always use local cafes if you need to meet clients but would prefer to work from home.

As for employees, it can be a lot harder to convince people to come to your house to work, so if working from home is a priority for you, then perhaps consider hiring people to work remotely.

Do you prefer working from home or from an office? Why? Let us know in the comments.

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