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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 July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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