The idea of being able to work permanently from home is one which appeals to many millions of people, perhaps never more so than when that early morning alarm clock goes off in the cold, grey heart of winter. The thought of getting out of bed in time only to grab a quick shower and eat some breakfast before starting the working day dressed however you may see fit is surely one that would appeal to anyone, most particularly those used to long and stressful daily commutes. While it's true that this is a huge benefit of working from home and that it is only one of the many, it is important to realize that working from home does have its minuses as well as its pluses and the significant effect it can have on your social life is one of those factors which can soon bring home the down sides of working exclusively from the comfort of your most private and familiar of surrounds.
Staying longer in bed each morning is a huge benefit of working permanently from home
Face to Face Interaction
How many people do you meet each day on your way to or from work? How many do you regularly interact with while at work? Although by no means all of these encounters will be pleasurable and may even be fleeting and singular, the chances are that over a period of time you will become a regular acquaintance and even a friend of one or more of the people you encounter in this way. It could be someone you travel with regularly on the bus or train, it could be a colleague you work with every day, or it could even be a regular business customer or client. These initially business only relationships can lead to friendship and to invites to out of work events, allowing you to meet a wider variety of people and gradually expand your list of friends and social acquaintances at the same time.
When you work from home, you certainly don’t meet many people on the way to work each day, other than perhaps a family member or two in the hallway or kitchen. It may even be that you have no face to face contact with any colleagues or customers in the course of your average daily routine. While you may find this suits you from a purely professional point of view, it can already be seen that it is significantly limiting your opportunities to widen your circle of friends, secure invites to a range of related and unrelated events and develop your social life and skills.
Commuting to work as well as being at work often affords opportunities for social interaction
Specific Workplace Social Events
Does your office have a social convener or social committee? Does it at least have a Christmas Party, or perhaps regular if spontaneous evenings out? Organized events emanating from within the work place are a further opportunity to enjoy a social scene as a direct result of your job and very possibly stand you the chance of forging new friendships or even relationships. These occasions can equally represent the opportunity for career progression as you meet more senior colleagues in an atmosphere more relaxed and friendly than you are likely to encounter at work, one which is conducive to greater empathy and understanding. Home workers rarely go on a one man or woman work’s night out and consequently miss out on all the associated fun, potential benefits and very real opportunities of a variety of different types.
Work place social events are something those who work permanently from home may have to forego
Home Comforts, Routines and Dependency
There is a further and even greater danger that working from home can potentially pose to your social life, even if it would be likely to apply only in extreme cases. That danger is that you become - if not exactly an eccentric or a hermit - someone who becomes overly dependent on home comforts, reluctant to leave your firmly established comfort zone even for a relaxed, laid back social event. Living and working in the same place all the time breeds an intense familiarity and even an unhealthy dependency upon your own rules, routines and working and living conditions. You can reach a stage where you are uncomfortable having to consider the requirements and preferences of others in any type of formal or social situation and this can be a sign of major, long term personality problems or even disorders developing.
A home office can in extreme circumstances become a prison from which you don't want to escape
Social Benefits of Working from Home
It is important to look at any concept such as this from a balanced perspective, so on the plus side, working from home can expand your free time and allow you to maximize the opportunities you already have to enjoy activities with your existing circle of friends and acquaintances. The lack of an evening commute in particular means that you can be ready to go to dinner, go to a bar for drinks, visit the gym or sports club, or even enjoy a home visit from your friends and family within potentially minutes of the conclusion of the formal working day.
A greater flexibility for arranging social engagements can be enjoyed by those work permanently from home
The Work Life Balance
The work/life balance theory suggests that while each of these components is extremely important in its own right, neither should be allowed to adversely affect or encroach upon the other to an unnatural or unacceptable extent. This theory is surely sound. Working hard and playing hard often makes for a very happy, healthy and balanced lifestyle and existence. In the case of full-time home workers, achieving the correct balance in this respect may require greater effort than that required on the part of those with an external place of work.
In conclusion, it is important therefore to remember that - just as the grass is often said to always appear greener on the other side - so to does working from home have its potential drawbacks as well as its many indisputable advantages, comforts and benefits.