You don’t need me to tell you that the Internet offers us unprecedented opportunities to work from home and any other location with decent WiFi.
For several years I have worked from home at least a couple days a week. I have tasted the wonderful benefits and seen many disadvantages firsthand, in my life or in the life of those I work with. I hope this quick evaluation will help you to work from home more faithfully to God’s glory.
Advantages of Working from Home
- You save time. Goodbye, long commute! Working from home means you can roll right out of bed and start work. Extra time might mean more time with the Lord in the morning, more time with your family, more time for exercise, or more time for serving at church.
- You (usually) save money. Working from home reduces transportation costs like gas and car repairs. Many employers don’t require professional clothing like a suit and tie for those at home, allowing one to dress more casual and spend less on clothing.
- You can work from any location. Several of my coworkers live in different states and yet we talk often through Google Hangouts. I often switch up where I work by working at a coffee shop or local library. Working from any location might allow you to work a day or two on a family trip and thus extend a trip without burning through vacation days.
- You may have a flexible schedule. If I’m working from home and don’t have meetings, my schedule is usually flexible, meaning I can take a break to spend time with my wife or head to the grocery store before it gets crowded. As long as I finish my tasks and work the time I need to, I can often work whenever I want. (Although I function best with a set schedule.)
- Home is often a great place for added focus or “deep work.” My office has many distractions that keep me from going deep in thought: conversations with coworkers, phone calls, visiting guests, or other random noises. Working from home has its distractions as well (see disadvantages), but with intentionality, it can be the perfect place to go deep on a project. If I ever need to write a sermon or an article, my home office is my top choice.
- It might help reduce stress. Stress can enter your life from traffic, some work relationships, higher expenditures, etc. When much of that is removed, so is the stress.
- Many employers give employees computers and phones for their work. And all those who love technology say, “Amen!”
As you can see, there are some wonderful advantages to working from home. As you consider them, consider that great opportunity come with the great responsibility to serve the Lord first and foremost (Ephesians 6:5–8). At the same time, don’t forget that the consequences of sin on work also affect those of us who work from home and present unique disadvantages and temptations (Genesis 3:17–19).
Disadvantages of working from home
- Your home is filled with distractions. Watch TV during the day because you can? It’s possible when you work from home! Wash laundry between meetings? Totally possible! Be distracted by your home to-do list and family members who forget you’re “at work”? Also possible! One minute of distraction at home rapidly becomes twenty. As believers called to be wise, making the most of the time the Lord gives us (Ephesians 5:15–16), we need to be disciplined in our time and make sure the Lord is pleased, as well as our earthly boss. This doesn’t mean we can’t do a load of laundry here or there (remind me to switch my load over after finishing this article), but it does mean we need to steward wisely both our time and mental energy. If my focus is on household tasks instead of my work, I’m robbing my employer—and God.
- It’s easy to be lazy without close supervision. This is true for many other job situations, but is amplified for those who work from home. Working from home requires discipline and organization. Productivity is a discipleship issue and an integrity issue. Work is to serve God and others, and if we get lazy, we squelch someone else’s opportunity to benefit from our work. “Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys” (Proverbs 18:9).
- Building relationships with coworkers might be more difficult. Since you don’t see people in person as regularly, you might have to work harder at developing relationships. Loving others and being a light for Christ takes intentionality and is harder if you’re not physically present.
- You will need to be more intentional in your communication. If you don’t see your coworkers every day, you may have to create structures to keep in touch and make sure you’re meeting your goals. Our team meets for an hour at the beginning of each week to look over work for the week, talk through challenges we’re facing, plan ahead, and pray. Remember in mind that emails and text messages don’t convey information in the same way as face-to-face interactions.
- You may be tempted to isolate yourself. Combine isolation with Internet access and you’ve got the perfect environment for indulging in the flesh by buying things you don’t need, flittering away time on social media, or viewing pornography. If this is you, seek help from a brother or sister in Christ. Confess your sins, be accountable, and live in integrity.
- Working from home might destroy your body. God didn’t create us to be cubicle monkeys that sit at desks for hours a day for years and years. (This goes for any desk jobs, not just working from home.) I’ve suffered from neck pain and carpal tunnel after sitting for years with terrible posture. Set your desk up correctly and consider using a standing desk so you don’t destroy your body.
- It can be stressful to balance life and work. Wait, I thought working from home reduced stress! It can, but it can also cause more. It’s hard for me to be just a room over from a loved one who wants my attention when I’m working—the whole “I’m home, but you can’t treat me like it” phenomenon. Also, if we use flexible hours poorly, it can cause stress as we realize we are slacking in what we need to accomplish.
If you work from home, these advantages and disadvantages are probably nothing new for you. Thank God for the privilege you have and ask for His help to maximize your productivity for His glory. Grow in your abilities to focus, plan your workday, block distractions, and reach your work goals remembering that, “whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord” (Ephesians 6:8).
Here’s a helpful discussion from Eden Chen and Justin Buzzard on working from home: