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November 22, 2004

To work at home -- or not?

From Arnie Herz’s Legal Sanity comes this link to an ABA Journal article titled, “Home Alone. Using Available Resources, Working at Home Can Pay Off,” that suggests that working at home is a viable alternative for some small firm practitioners.  However, this BBC News Article seems to point to an opposite conclusion.  According to a study quoted in the article:

Less than 50% of people who work from home are satisfied with their home office space, with a quarter of them forced to work in the kitchen, 37% in the spare room and 10% "hotdesking" it to anywhere they can find.  [In fact over] three-quarters of home workers have found themselves working in a cramped and cluttered space, and over 50% of those surveyed said they did not have enough room to work effectively.

What does this all mean?  Make sure the productivity gains you experience by losing your commute or gaining convenience are not offset by a bad work environment.  Just because something feels like it is more productive, does not make it so.


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I work from home and love it because:
1. I make money with no chance of being fired
2. I make sure I open all my windows (bright light makes me happier)
3. I get dressed and ready for the day before starting work.

I think ABA Journal got it right, right in the title: working at home can work, but only if you have certain resources available. One of these resources is space. After all, in a regular office, you would have your own office, cubicle, or at least a desk. Your boss would not expect you to work in the conference room, lunch room, or supply closet, so why should you work in the living room, kitchen or closet/basement/attic?

I've worked at home for years, and the only way you can make it work is to have a dedicated office space in your home. Not the kitchen table, or walk-in closet. Everyone in the family needs to respect your space and time, and of course the space has to be large enough, and have the proper amenities to facilitate your working style (phone line, fax, broadband, etc.).

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