Ask anyone who works in an office if they'd like to work from home. There's a good chance that they will say they would prefer working from home over coming into the office.
With the majority of Singaporeans working longer hours than what was agreed to in their contracts, many people are feeling the negative impact of overtime on their work-life balance.
This is probably why many people are turning to part-time and freelance jobs, which give them the flexibility to work from home. Just last year, job portal Freelancer.com said that the number of freelancers in the portal's Singapore database jumped 74% over the previous 12 months.
Working from home sounds good in theory. You don't have to wake up early to squeeze into a packed MRT train (which may break down half way to work). You don't have to bother with office politics, and you can save quite some money on your transport and meals.
But will everything be wonderful if you work from home?
Before you consider the option, we at GET.com will list the 4 important things to consider before you decide to work from home!
1. Your Business Life And Personal Life Get Tangled Up
When you work in an office, you concentrate on your work and leave your personal life behind. Sure, you may carry a small part of the joy, stress or tears of home with you to the office.
But for the most part, it's easy to separate yourself from personal life when surrounded by busy co-workers. Once you are in a business environment, you will focus on what's in front of you.
But that line is blurred when you work from home. Without a physical separation, your mind tells you to spend all of your waking hours on work, while your emotions tend to drag you into your household affairs.
It's hard to resist that temptation, because you are at home and you feel obliged to take care of the house and family matters. Your spouse or roommate might also get the wrong idea.
You could hardly blame them for thinking you have all the time in the world to take care of household chores, now that you work from home.
Unless you have the discipline of a kung fu master, you may find yourself battling to stay focused on either work or home life.
On the other side of the scale, if you are the workaholic type you might find yourself putting in a lot of overtime, possibly without being paid for your extra work hours. You may feel you have to finish up a project before you can sit back and relax. Quitting time is not a scheduled event in the home office, and you can easily end up working more than you did at your out-of-home job.
2. Loss Of Your Regimen
The best thing about working from home is the flexibility you can get. But that flexibility can also turn into a disadvantage.
Working in the office provides you with a set timetable. You report to the office at 8am or 9am and take your lunch break at 12pm or 1pm, and then you go off at 6pm or 7pm. The hours afterwards are yours. It runs like a train and your body and mind get used to it too.
When you work from home, you get to choose when to wake up, when to have your meals and when to clock out and call it a day. You might skip your meals so you can work through and quit earlier. Or you might work late into the night because you took a longer lunch break. Either way, it's easy to lose your sense of time.
That was my work-from-home experience. I only worked from home for a couple of months but I soon found myself either skipping lunch or putting lunch off until 3pm.
I know it's unhealthy but work has a way of seeming more important than health. At the home office, it's up to you to set your routine, and that takes discipline.
3. No Social Life
Working from home can be lonely if you don't have anyone in the house. Humans are gregarious by nature. We crave human interaction and we need someone to talk to once in a while. This also holds true in the work place.
This has been proven by Stanford researchers, whose findings were also cited by The Business Insider. Their experiment found that one major reason why brick-and-mortar offices are here for the long term is because people generally like going into an office and interacting with their colleagues.
During the few months when I was doing freelance writing, I found a way to cope with the uncontrollable urge to break isolation. I often sat at a café to give myself a false sense of being with a group of people, though I didn't know any of them and none of them paid a second thought to my presence there.
4. You May Be More Distracted At Home
No one is going to blame you for getting distracted, so you get distracted more easily when you work from home. One of our least favourite things about working in an office is the feeling that the boss is watching you. It feels kind of like a continuation of school, where the teacher's ever-present eyes never seemed to give you a break.
But oddly enough, that feeling of being watched is usually exactly what motivates us to focus on our work. For better or worse, that feeling of being scrutinised is something you won't find in a home office.
News stories, social media and TVs are ever-present distractions. Then there are all those noises at home that may come from washing machines or the sound of children playing outside.
Unless you live alone or lock yourself behind a soundproof door, you may also find yourself being interrupted by your children, spouse, pets, or even friends and relatives.
According to a report by Regus, a company that rents flexible office space, family members demanding attention is cited as the number one obstacle to successfully working from home!
You can't pretend that your spouse or kids are not there, and still be a good soul mate or parent. But taking 2 minutes to hear them out 30 times a day will affect your work.