Being a 25-year Environmental, Safety & Health Director, it was a no-brainer that my recent job searches revolved around the general industry. Over the years I had overseen compliance in the auto industry, steel fabrication, food production and the cable industry. Trust me when I tell you there is very little that I haven’t experienced or witnessed.
But after much self-reflection and assessment of my physical and mental health, I realized I had given that world enough of my body and soul. In short, per my doctor, it was slowly killing me.
I know that sounds a bit extreme, but if I ever decide to write a book about my occupational adventures, you’ll probably wonder why I hadn’t decided to leave it all much sooner.
And so, here I am, in my second year, working from home, scoring standardized tests. I had an 8-month break since the first testing season ended, so now I’m trying to recover my groove, having just completed my training week for my return.
It’s been fun, believe me. And true, “clocking in” from my home office has both its perks and sadly, its downsides. But none of them are bad enough to make me go crawling back to brick-and-mortar organizations, even if at times, I miss walking into the daily madness.
I know you’ve read the ups and downs about it all before, but I figured I’d share what I’m loving and not liking as much. The world according to me. Let’s get to it, shall we? Here are MY…
10 Pros And Cons Of Working From Home
1. Pro: No Commute!
In my EHS career, I’ve worked at two different jobs located an hour away from home. It was bad enough, waking up at least 60 minutes before leaving to comfortably shower, brush, flush, get dressed and eat. Add two hours, round trip of travel. Gas. Traffic. Car Maintenance. Level 1, 2 and 3 snow emergencies (shoveling out the car). Police (yeah, even them).
2. Con: Lack Of Interaction
If you’ve ever worked with me, you know that I am very much a People Person. I know that you don’t work to make friends, but I have made a ton of them. This is especially odd since a safety compliance officer is usually seen as the bad guy. I had the good fortune of being “Safety Guy”, “Band-Aid dude”, “Cool Kenny” and “Big Man” among other titles.
Thankfully, they’ve always been used in complimentary fashion (I think). And that was in everything – retail sales/management, hospitals, bookstores, etc. I’ve always loved my co-workers and working with the public. Today I get a smidgeon of that in the morning (audio only) team meetings, but it’s not the same.
Laughing on the production line, dancing in my office with associates to Parliament/Funkadelic on my boom box, practical jokes on the nurses, being hugged by employees and customers; I miss that. And it was wonderful knowing that if the employees trusted no one else in management, they always knew they could come to me. Hell, half the time they wouldn’t even go to Human Resources.
3. Pro: Lack Of Interaction
Yes, there is a plus side to not dealing with people face-to-face. All in all, I respected the management teams, but in the same breath, I despised the great majority of them. Over the years, fighting for the buy-in of top brass, I’ve had some epic battles. Whether it was failure to allow training, purchase necessary equipment/supplies or allow the implementation of critical policies and procedures, I can think of several times I wanted to put the snatch on folk. A lot of that stemmed from being in management myself, but in the end, the fact that I don’t have to even look at some people is a huge stress reliever.
4. Con: Sedentary Activity
My current job requires that I sit at a desk from start to finish. I’m used to moving around, being on my feet, 60% of the workday conducting inspections, giving training, making presentations, responding to accidents and emergencies, etc. My days, as troublesome as they could be, moved quickly. I’m well aware that working in offices, it’s pretty much the same, but sitting at home is a different feeling. There is no filing cabinet to walk or swivel to. No trip across the hall to talk to anyone. Not even a fire drill (unless one of my two live at home sons sets the kitchen on fire).
If I want exercise, I get it from walking down and up the stairs during one of my 15-minute breaks or if I go for a walk during my half-hour lunch. But truth be told, I’d rather be eating…
5. Con: Lunch
Since we’re talking about lunch, unless I order for delivery or make a quick drive down the street for a drive-through mobile order, I’m restricted to my meals at home. That could be a good thing if I choose to eat healthy, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss those 2–3-hour business lunches. Most often, I use that half hour to walk two rooms over to my bed for a 25-minute nap.
6. Pro: Lunch!
Eating at home has saved me hundreds of dollars (that I no longer make anyway). When you consider the $5-$15 one spends in the company cafeteria, delivery or at a local restaurant, that can get to be quite expensive over time. If you’ve ever looked at all your receipts over any given year, imagine how much you could have saved if you never spent a single cent (add gas for travel). Yes, lunch at home may drain the pantry and refrigerator inventory a bit, but you fare better financially, eating leftovers or putting something together.
7. Pro: What To Wear
Since I never (and I mean, never) have a reason to use my webcam, I can wear anything ranging from business casual clothes to pajamas to my raggedy t-shirts. I understand this is not the case for many who do video chats, but even so, if it was me, I would probably wear a decent top over a pair of boxer briefs or sweatpants. Knowing that I don’t have to prep my clothes and spend time looking in my closet is a personal win. Trying to decide what to wear that looks different from the past outfits is a mild nuisance, but a welcome change.
Now working in factories, we had uniforms. But I got tired of the steel-toed boots, white uniform shirt and navy-blue pants that weren’t designed to accommodate my big behind.
8. Con: Little-To-No Time Off
Working from home, you are expected to clock in under conditions that would normally give you an excuse to call off. Cold/flu symptoms, muscle injuries, surgeries. Many “Work From Home” jobs feel that if you can sit in a chair, you can report to work.
Inclement weather? Not a problem. Clock in.
Sprained ankle? No need for crutches. Clock in.
Diarrhea? Clock in. But sit on a towel.
9. Con: Too Many Distractions
It doesn’t take much to pull me away from what I’m doing. As I mentioned before, two of my sons still live at home and they often have to be told to keep the noise down. If there is an in-house emergency like a burst water pipe or connectivity issue, I’m that guy. They know to tell any door-to-door salesperson that I’m unavailable, but every now and then I do need to speak with someone, albeit briefly.
Being at home, using my own PC, there is too much of a temptation to edit video/photography, progress my book, surf the net or even work on my blog. Having a 32″ Smart FireTV on my desk doesn’t make it any easier either. And my job has made it perfectly clear that if you’re speaking to your team leader and they hear a television in the background, you will be terminated.
Thank God for volume control…
10. Pro: NO MORE LONG HOURS!
I was on call, 24-7. If there was a serious accident or environmental event like an anhydrous ammonia leak or hazardous liquid spill, I had to suit up and hop in the car. Sometimes take a flight, like I did once, ending my 4th of July weekend for an emergency trip to New York.
Then there was the mentally arduous task of overseeing accident investigations, investigative reports, training on 3 different shifts, federal inspections, unnecessary presentations and other job responsibilities that kept me from home. This was one of the reasons my doctor was so concerned. My stress level from my last factory was at an all-time high.
And being salaried, overtime was not an option, it was an expectation. I see now that 50–60-hour work weeks were the norm. And if you tell me “That’s why you make the big bucks”, you can keep that line. In the end, I see that my sacrifices of family time and mental health were appreciated by absolutely zero companies.
On this job, not only are you NOT expected to work overtime, but it is also not permitted unless they need volunteers.
My core work hours are 8:30 – 4, with an option to work as early as 8 and as late as 4:30.
And I don’t even have to walk to the parking lot.
And that’s it! There are other reasons, many of which are commonly known to any and everyone sitting at their computer, hoping a naked spouse or child won’t walk into camera view. But these are my reasons.
But after all is said and done, despite my drop in salary, I’m cool with waking up with just enough time to shower, put on some sweats and a t-shirt and grab a bowl of Honey, Oats & Raisins Cereal with some buttered toast and orange juice.
No more slipping in the driveway that my sons should have shoveled and salted the night before.
No more silent prayers to keep from choking that condescending co-worker.
And no more high blood pressure…
Got a Pro or Con you’d like to share about working from home? Leave it in the Comments section below! And be sure to sign up at the bottom to receive email notification of future posts from Kenny’s Camera, Cooking & Crazy Confessions at ZootsBlogSpot!