I’ve been working from home since March 27 to be exact. When the first positive case of Covid-19 became a reality in my state, my employer swiftly implemented policies so that we could telework. Once VPN access was set up for all employees, we unplugged our desktops and drove our workspaces home. This article outlines my personal experience with the pros and cons of telework, especially as it relates to my situation as a mother to a young toddler.
My coworkers and other people often ask me if I enjoy telework or not. Some of my coworkers absolutely love it and some of us are ambivalent. I think your personal pros and cons of telework are going to depend on your personal home setup, your familial obligations, and the type of work you do. Telework is going to be different for a single person versus an individual with young toddlers or with school-age children.
So, here are the pros and cons of telework.
The pros of telework
When I was working forty hours a week in an office, I used to think that the ability to telework would be a dream. How cool would it be to stay at home all day? It’s kind of like that childhood fantasy of getting to stay home from school, right? Well, it all came true when Covid hit. These are my pros of telework.
Productivity is the same
I’ve found that my level of work output is equal to working in the office. This is the case for a lot of my coworkers as well. Performance in our division is customer-driven and easily measured. With our VPN setup, we pretty much have full access to everything we use in the office.
Productivity has been so great that I think my employer may allow a permanent hybrid telework model, even after the pandemic. There are many pros and cons of telework for employers as well.
No commute for telework
This has to be a major pro of telework for most people. I remember the first morning of telework when I walked down my hallway and I was at my work desk. That feeling was so amazing.
My personal commute to my physical work location is only 1.8 miles. I would come home every single day for lunch to eat and catch up on some TV shows. For my coworkers whose commute was 30 miles or more, not having a commute is a game-changer.
In general, the reduction of commuting time for millions of people around the world is absolutely great for our planet. Less driving equals fewer carbon emissions. For me, it also means that I don’t have to service my car as much.
New ways to spend telework breaks
When I was working in the office, there were times when we were less busy, but still required to be in the building during work hours. During downtime, I would chat with coworkers, take a short walk, or grab a coffee at Starbucks. Now, I can throw a load of laundry into the washer, unload the dishwasher, or clean up my toddler’s toys. Also, now that my daughter is at home with me more often, one of our daily activities is taking walks in the neighborhood.
In the afternoon, I also spend some of my teleworking downtime prepping for dinner, whether that’s putting food in a crockpot or chopping up vegetables ahead of time. This has made cooking dinner in the evenings so much easier.
More time with my toddler
Since I started teleworking, we adjusted my daughter’s daycare schedule to part-time. She stays at home with me roughly two to three days a week. When I was working in the office full-time, I used to feel so guilty that my daughter was attending daycare full-time.
Teleworking has allowed me to have more of a constant presence in her life. I enjoy all the extra hours that I get to spend with her during the week, even if she’s just watching Sesame Street while I work.
I didn’t have a lot of micromanagement to begin with thanks to a great supervisor but there’s less of a ‘being managed’ feeling when I work from home. For me, this leads to increased independence in my work, which is great!
For some, being at home without a hovering supervisor can give a boost in morale by allowing employees to balance work and other life demands. (Source)
The cons of telework
There are some cons of teleworking. There were some glitches in setting up and adjusting to my work station. I definitely miss the daily connection with people. It can get lonely at times.
Finding space for a telework station
Unless you have a lot of extra room, finding space for your new office can be a problem. Initially, I set up my desk and computer system in the living room, which was the easiest place I could figure out space. This wasn’t ideal as I literally had no work privacy, especially on days that my husband was off and at home watching our daughter.
After seven months in the living room, I eventually converted our spare bedroom into an office. In doing so, we got rid of our queen-sized guest bed and purchased a futon. Since I was still operating on a desktop without a wireless connection at the time, I had to have Centurylink come out and establish a direct internet line in the new office.
Lack of constant human connection
I would say that this is the biggest con of teleworking. I didn’t realize how much I would miss seeing my coworkers on a daily basis. Some of them became my friends and we would chit-chat throughout the day, talk about our kids, and keep up with each other’s lives.
Sometimes, especially when my daughter is at daycare, the house can be quiet and lonely. I can’t help but wonder how many other people are going through this right now. We are human and we’re meant to interact with people and be social. So, I struggle with this from time to time.
Balancing work and childcare
When the Covid pandemic first hit, there was a lot of fear and panic. Everyone was going and staying home in droves. My daughter was 11 months old at the time and ended up staying at home with me for a month and a half. I realized that having no childcare was really not an option because I still had docket days for Court, conferences, and meetings. Plus, I was getting really stressed out with balancing everything on my plate.
Our daycare allowed us to adjust to part-time, or up to three days a week. Most weeks, my daughter will attend two or three days, depending on my work schedule and the daycare has allowed us the flexibility to choose the days every week. Amazing, right? We’ve definitely weathered some storms, especially when there were positive Covid cases at my daughter’s daycare.
Final thoughts on the pros and cons of telework
In weighing the pros and cons of telework, I would say that the pros outweigh the cons in my situation. Overall, I enjoy working at home, but I do miss parts of office life, like dressing up and celebrating events.