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Working from home: a blessing or a curse?

Working from home: a blessing or a curse?

If you picture working from home, you might think of a relaxed, carefree vibe as you plan your own day and answer to no one.

There are certainly great benefits from working at home but there are drawbacks too. With 68% of Australian employers now offering ‘remote working’, anyone thinking of taking it up should be aware of all the pros and cons.

Flexibility and productivity

It’s undeniable that remote work enables employees to be more flexible.

If you spend two hours travelling to and from the office every workday, you can save ten hours straight off the bat. Avoiding clogged freeways, crowded buses and overstuffed trains is certainly an attractive prospect in itself.

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When it comes to productivity, however, rigorous self-discipline becomes essential at home. The boss may not be sitting across from you but you still answer to them.

That means avoiding all distractions like TV and household chores during work hours. This may be simple if you live alone but for those with families, eliminating distractions like these may be challenging.

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This is why setting up a substantial home office is so important.

The perfect home office

Every home office needs to be its own quiet space. Working in the middle of a living room or kitchen setting probably won’t be conducive to performing good work without distraction.

It’s often worth converting a spare bedroom to create your own workspace. Whatever you need in the office needs to be replicated at home.

In 2020, no home office can function without substantial internet. Nothing short of 25Mbps will do. With the NBN rollout still incomplete, make sure you’ve tossed out your old ADSL2+ system first.

No one wants to be on a Skype call with a client only for your network to constantly drop in and out. If possible, upgrade your internet plan to access faster speeds.

You can also claim the portion of your plan you use for work on your tax return, so it’s well worth investing in an adequate home network.

On the practical side of things, ensure your furniture and tech is up to scratch. A printer on its last legs will not cut the mustard. The cost of these items is fully tax-deductible up to $300 per item. You can claim the costs of depreciation for anything more expensive.

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However you set up your workspace, use it only for work. All the baggage you receive from work needs to be left in that space so that it doesn’t interfere with your personal life.

This is difficult when the home is your workspace but working only within your regular hours and clocking off as per usual will keep your firm routine in place. Maintaining a consistent schedule will help you to create reliable work habits in your new surroundings.

Fighting boredom and loneliness

Skipping the dreary commute and stuffy work clothes can feel like a blessing at first but for some, it can make work a great deal less rewarding for mental health.

Office catch-ups aren’t important for every employee but humans are naturally social creatures and we need some form of interaction with each other to stay healthy.

Without taking precautions, it’s easy to fall into a state of loneliness. This can occur when we don’t feel connected with our (remote) co-workers and clients.

If video calls don’t compensate, staying social and active in other ways can help. Use the time you’d spend commuting in the morning and evening to exercise, perhaps. Or join a service like Meetup to connect with like-minded people and broaden your social life.

Do whatever you need to break up your week. The important thing is that your work life doesn’t compromise your mental wellbeing.

Mixing things up

Of course, not everyone who works from home does so five days a week. Some employees only work remotely once or twice a week.

This can strike the perfect balance between the monotony of the daily commute and the insular environment of the home.

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In the 2020s, workplaces have become more accommodating of alternative strategies than ever before. If you’re employed in a field like sales that relies heavily on office work, ask your boss to see how adaptable your company is to alternative arrangements.

Remote work isn’t necessarily right for everyone, but if you think you have good reason to make the switch and sufficient self-discipline to ensure you work productively, it may be right for you.