If your employer allows you to work from home occasionally, then by all means, take advantage of that benefit. However, there are both good reasons and bad reasons to work from home. If you ever find yourself in the gray area, debating whether you should go into the office or stay home, here are three reasons it’s almost never a good idea to work from home.
Someone needs to watch your kids
This is a tricky one. One of the pluses of telecommuting is that it gives you more flexibility and control over your family time, but this can all too easily get out of hand. It’s very difficult to give 100 percent to your job and your kids at the same time, despite good intentions. So while I wouldn’t stop anyone from working from home if they needed to be with their kids, I wouldn’t recommend it either. Better to take the day off or hire a babysitter; that way you won’t be stressed about adhering to the demands of both your kids and your co-workers at the same time. Or, if you only need to work a few hours a day, try to plan your work around naps and bedtime.
It’s Friday, or, it’s a holiday
Again, this isn’t an always or never situation; if you need to work from home on a random Friday, do it. However, if you start requesting to work from home every Friday or holiday your company doesn’t give you off, your employer will get suspicious. I had a co-worker who always asked to work from home on Fridays and holidays, and eventually our boss started telling her no. He no longer trusted her to get a full day’s work done on those days, not to mention a lot of her co-workers resented the way she seemed to abuse this freedom. Unless you’ve reached an agreement with your employer, refrain from working from home on special days. Consider asking for the day off instead.
Any time you’ll be more distracted at home than at work
A few years ago, my dad started renovating our basement. For weeks the sound of hammers, saws and verbal arguments crept upstairs and kept us all on edge. During this time I was glad to escape to work, even though it was an hour away. With all that was going on at home, it was very difficult to be productive for any length of time. If you’re in the middle of a home renovation project, a move or anything of that nature, it will be much easier on you if you work in the office, even if you need to supervise things at home.
When working from home will be more distracting and less productive, take some time off if you really need to be at home. Otherwise make a commitment to go into the office every day. Arrange for your spouse to be home when you can’t.