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Pro and Cons of Working from Home

Pro and Cons of Working from Home
House

There are many reasons for setting up office at home. One might need to be with the children or maybe saving office rent is a requirement. Just like there are innumerable reasons for working from home similarly there are many pros and cons that one must consider when setting up shop in the house.

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When you are working in a formal set-up, all the advantages of working from home seem to come to our minds. And many people often get attracted by the whole idea of being ones own boss. And there is no doubt about the fact that there are many rewards of working from home.

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  • More time with children – One of the main advantages of working from home is that one gets to spend much more time with the children. Monitoring their progress and providing them with the guidance that they may need for their development becomes easier.
  • Reduction in travel time – Another major advantage is that travel time is saved. Millions of people waste hours traveling to-and-fro from work. In fact commercial cities have unbearable traffic during the office hours that are aptly called the ‘rush hours’.
  • Savings in wardrobe – Not having to maintain a formal wardrobe is another aspect of working from home that is advantageous. There is no need to get into a suit or other such formal wear while working from home. One can just work in comfortable casual clothing and that might actually increase productivity.
  • Savings in office rent – If you have a separate office of your own and do not work for another company, working from home can mean a huge saving in office rent.
  • Savings in taxes – Taxes can be saved by ensuring a thorough filing of expenses that one incurs.
  • Some fixed expenses can be shared – Incidental expenses are lowered since they are shared by the home as well as the office. Telephone, stationary and other such overhead expenses are shared between the house as well as the office thus cutting cost if it is a personal business.
  • Flexibility – There is a lot of flexibility that comes with working from home. You can decide your own timings and can accommodate other tasks that need to be accomplished.

But life is not all rosy when working from home. On the flip side of the coin the disadvantages of working from home are aplenty too.

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  • Slips into slackness – Since there is no pressure to start work at a certain time or dress a certain way it is very easy to delay the start of work. Productivity can seriously decrease under such circumstances if great self discipline is not maintained.
  • Pressing personal chores – Personal chores can mount and get extremely difficult to avoid when one is at home. The tasks can be overwhelming and one could fall prey to it. Tasks that would otherwise take only fifteen minutes can end up taking up a lot more time.
  • Lack of competitive spirit – A major disadvantage of working from home is lack of human interaction. Colleagues and peers help in keeping the competitive spirit alive and enhance productivity. Going to office is a great way to get away from the stress at home and vice versa but if office is at home then there might be no escaping the stress.

With virtual offices being set up across the world working from home is no longer a thing of the past. Following a few simple tips and maintaining a high discipline can overshadow the cons and let you reap the fruits of the benefits.

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Vishal P. Rao runs the Work at Home Forum, an online community of those who work from home.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

Curiosity

Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

Patience

Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

A Feeling for Connectedness

This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

How to Self-Taught Effectively

With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

1. Research

Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

Learning the Basics

Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

Hitting the Books

Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

Long-Term Reference

While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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2. Practice

Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

3. Network

One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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4. Schedule

For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

Final Thoughts

In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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