By Dirk Zeller

Deciding if a home office is right for you could have a huge impact on your life and will affect your income, wealth, company advancement, family life, and peace of mind. There aren’t many decisions this big in life. The problem is that most people don’t realize the magnitude. Most people pine for the home office to increase flexibility, efficiency, and time savings to create a level of freedom for them.

Some of the advantages include:

  • Setting your own hours: This freedom allows you to align your work around family as well as your natural rhythm of your work. For example, some people work better in the evening than first thing in the morning. That’s when their mental motor is firing on all cylinders. A home office gives you flexibility to work well after you put the kids to bed. You can create a work schedule that works for and with you.

  • Controlling costs: For the most part, the largest cost for a small business is the rented office space and the accompanying utilities. Most building owners require years of commitment in the form of a long‐term lease as well as personal financial guarantees that the monthly rent will be paid. If you work from home, you avoid all those costs.

  • If you run a small business in today’s technology world, your customer in most business niches would never know that your office is in your home. If you have a website, social media presence, customer and prospect email lists and a phone, you have a business in today’s world. On the Internet, a small company can look like a large company that has been around for 100 years.

  • Commuting time: The amount of time you spend in your car getting to and from work is enormous. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average commute time in the United States is more than 5 minutes one way. This creates stress and tension before you even walk through the door. A home office that enables you to work from home even for a few hours and miss rush hour traffic can be a significant time‐ and gas‐saving option.

  • Attending more family events: A home office doesn’t guarantee your attendance at all the soccer or t‐ball games. It does allow, however, for the flexibility to step away for a few hours to attend them and then go back to work.

  • Hitting deadlines on projects: In business there are just times where you need to go above and beyond for your bosses and clients. There are times, like when you’re writing a book and your editor is breathing down your neck to submit chapters, that a designated home office can make the difference between getting it done on time . . . or not.

There are certainly positives to the home office environment, but there are also the negative traps that you need to watch out for as well. You may want to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to a home office, but there are drawbacks, such as:

  • Lack of formal structure and support: If you need the structure and accountability of a work environment, a home office could be a challenge for you. Some need the structure of getting up, showering, and putting on work clothes to feel like they are at work. You also can lose your office assistant, phone coverage, ease of delegation, and other services you are provided in a typical office environment.

  • The feeling of isolation: Because you are not around the office environment, you might miss the comradery and interaction with others. People who work mostly from a home office can feel isolated from their co‐workers more easily. Unless you are a high‐introvert person, you need to design a system to engage in interaction with your team at work. Many home office workers have animals so they aren’t completely alone all day long.

  • A home office environment requires greater self‐discipline: A person who lacks self‐management and self‐discipline usually fails in a home office setting. They frequently don’t demand of themselves what a boss who is watchful in an office setting might require. The skill of time management and self‐discipline are vital tools for a home office worker’s tool kit.

  • The challenge of separation from work life from home life: There are clear lines of distinction when you have to physically prepare, commute to, and arrive at your company office. The work and home line is drawn boldly. If you are the type to slip away from family time to get that last project done, the balancing act between home and work might be too difficult.

There are other drawbacks from potential changes in child care and the resulting cost, privacy, being taken seriously as a professional, and even isolation.