Last updated January 5th, 2020.7 minute read
I’ve been thinking an awful lot about recently about the idea of challenging the traditional 9-5. If you have been following this blog for a while, you may know I quit my job in late February. There were a number of reasons for that, but one is that I wasn’t able to take advantage of the benefits of working from home.
Sure, management decided to let us work from home one day per week during the time I was there. However, one day per week is not enough. Especially when you work in tech and the entirety of your work can be done remotely.
My new mission here at The Frugal Fellow is also to help you challenge what having a “job” means. If you’re anything like me, you march to the beat of a different drum.
There is nothing wrong with having a traditional 9-5 job. If that’s what you enjoy, great! But I have realized I am not satisfied with the idea of FIRE. While the concept is powerful, I feel we need more of an in-between option for impatient folks like me.
But even if you are someone who prefers traditional employment, there are many benefits to working from home in such a job. Whether you’re a freelancer or full-time; whether you work in an office all of the time or none of the time, there are always benefits to working from home.
1. Avoiding the Commute
Without a doubt, avoiding the commute is one of the biggest benefits of working from home. Although I sometimes have a love-hate relationship with the internet, one can’t deny the power of limitless information sharing.
I often hear online about people who travel two hours – each way – every single day. Guys, this is madness! Yes, those people are on the fringe. According to a 2017 US Census report, the average commute time is 26.1 minutes (one-way).
It’s also worth noting that a lot of the communities I follow are FI communities, meaning people looking to optimize their finances. In some cases, that means living a million miles away from the office to save $100 on their mortgage.
I am not trying to mock those people; while I wouldn’t make such a choice, the choice theirs, not mine. However, working remotely could mean you don’t have to deal with such an insane commute.
Think about it: if you are spending four hours per day commuting, eight hours sleeping (laughable), 8 hours working (also laughable), that leaves you with a measly four hours left in your day.
And that time doesn’t even include time to get ready for work, make dinner, and decompress from a long, stressful day.
So, what happens? You probably don’t sleep anywhere near eight hours. Your stress levels increase and your work productivity decreases.
And I haven’t even mentioned road rage. Don’t even get me started on that topic. But if you’ve ever driven in a busy city, you probably already understand.
2. Work Wherever the Heck You Want
This is related to number one, but “working from home” doesn’t necessarily mean you actually have to work from home. In other words, you can work from wherever the heck you want.
You can work at a coffee shop, at your in-law’s house, or at the airport. You can work anywhere you want, assuming you’re able to be productive. This can sometimes be an issue though, because sometimes coffee shops have unpredictably crappy wi-fi. Sometimes seating is limited or there isn’t any at all.
However, once you find one that works okay, generally that will continue to be the case.
One other issue with being able to work from anywhere is the potential pressure to always be working. We need to take time off for our own sanity, but sometimes being able to work anywhere, anytime can make people workaholics to an unhealthy level.
But if you’ve ever worked for an operation that is 24/7/365 like I have (I worked in health care IT), you know that this sometimes happens with those who normally work in the office anyway!
This is especially true if you are on salary. It’s a bit of a paradox, but people who don’t get paid by the hour often work more, not less. Some people just love their jobs and sometimes, they forget to take a break.
So if you are paid on salary and your work can be done remotely, chances are not much will change if you work remotely some or all of the time.
3. Work While In Your Underwear
Yes, seriously. Some people who work from home do so with a very relaxed dress code. Proceed with caution if you partake in video calls/meetings while working.
However, many people – especially those doing work such as blogging in freelancing – have meetings rarely if ever. While we network with a ton of people, I can say I have never had to attend a meeting like you see in the corporate world.
If pajamas are your jam, then working from home could be, too.
4. Lower Stress Levels
I don’t know about you, but there are few things I find more stressful than the morning commute.
Why can’t anyone use a turn signal? Why do people think weaving is going to make a difference in heavy traffic? And WHY is there always an accident when you’re already late for a meeting!?
…and so on. I did this for years. The road rage was blood-curdling and my stress levels were higher than a kid at a Willie Nelson concert.
I even got in a (minor) accident because stress was affecting my ability to drive. No, I wasn’t under the influence – I was just that stressed out. Although the accident was quite minor, it’s never fun when something like stress impairs you.
Not anymore. Working from home means you can go out when you choose. And that means avoiding rush hour. Somehow, I often manage to drive during those times, but I can avoid it, of course.
Stress levels are much lower and so is the likelihood that I will drive unsafely.
5. Fewer Distractions
Admittedly, this point is going to vary from one person to the next. For example, if you have several small children and a dog at home, you may not be less distracted there.
Personally, I have neither children nor pets, so things are definitely quieter at home. No people constantly stopping by your desk, no random people coming by to water the plants, no fire drills.
And, of course, no general chatter around the office to distract you. Nowadays, I have an awesome pair of noise-cancelling headphones, but I got those recently. Back when I worked in the office, I was often distracted by people in the office.
So if your home is a quiet environment like mine is, it’s probably also a lot less distracting than the office.
6. Saving Money
If you’re anything like me, you probably love to save money. And working from home can do just that! Sure, it might not make an enormous difference, but every penny counts, as they say.
How can working from home save you money? Well, if you don’t drive a plug-in hybrid or fully-electric vehicle like I do, you have to put gas in your car every week. But if you aren’t constantly driving to and from the office, you’re going to use a lot less gas.
And avoiding the commute can save you in other ways, too. Since you aren’t constantly out and about, making food at home is much easier. Do that instead of going to restaurants all the time and you can save a ton.
Working From Home = Living More Intentionally
At the end of the day, the best thing about working from home is that it gives you more freedom. Although you won’t be FIRE yet, or even barista FIRE, you still have more choices. With these jobs, you just need your routing number, and then you can get paid online.
Rather than having to structure your entire day around your commute plus being in the office, you’re able to do things more your own way.
The result? You save time and money, you’re less stressed, and you’re more productive. If that doesn’t make you want to work from home, I’m not sure what will.