The idea of working from home can seem like a dream to some people. They have visions of late lie-ins and sitting in bed, but the truth can be a bit different. Generally when I tell someone I work from home, they reply with “you’re so lucky!” I tend to smile and explain it makes things easier, but there are serious pros and cons to working from home, especially when it’s out of necessity! There are many different health conditions which could cause a person to need to work from home rather than want to, and it can be a very mixed experience.

The Benefits of No Travel

Working from home makes some things way easier. It allows me to be employed in a situation where my disabilities would otherwise be a massive barrier. Traveling alone is dangerous for me with uncontrolled seizures and with the heat and stress of trains being a trigger. I’m grateful for the ability to work full time but not have my condition aggravated by logistics!

I’m a business consultant, a job which normally requires a lot of travel. I have reasonable adjustments in place, which mean I work remotely. You may wonder why I chose a career in something my health doesn’t love. The honest answer is that it wasn’t this bad before, and I didn’t know travel would cause such issues. Not having to travel has let me continue working in an industry I enjoy, and allowed me to further develop my skills and interests.

Self care is much easier

Learning to manage your time and duties correctly is essential to working from home. It can be tough at first, but in my experience, you learn to self-motivate. You can pace yourself a lot more when you work from home. You can obviously get more rest if you don’t have to travel and you’re in the comfort of your own home. You’re also more in control when it comes to taking short breathers.

If you’re someone who needs to use medications or accessibility apparatus of any kind, you’re much more in control and don’t have to worry about anyone judging you. I have a home office and have mouse and keyboard wrist supports to help my pain. I can get up to stretch out whenever I need it. When my seizures occur, I know I’m in a safe environment and no one will call an ambulance unnecessarily!

The Isolation Issue

It can be massively isolating working from home. It’s easy to think it’d be bliss to be alone and not deal with people face-to-face, but there’s a difference when it’s by necessity rather than choice. I’m a pretty happily introverted person, but the lack of social interaction when you spend all day in a home office is tough. You miss out on easy networking, work friends, casual meetings and even being able to interpret body language. People often find it odd that I work remotely, and I can’t express how often I’ve had to explain my disability situation to an awkward reception.

It can be hard to fit in

If you’re the only person in your team who works remotely, it’s easy to stick out and for the wrong reasons. Nobody ever sees you in person, so people don’t automatically think of you for team involvement. You have to work so hard not to be invisible! It can also hold you back career-wise if you company is not used to having remote employees, and they may not be keen to promote you. If you’re being made to feel like a problem for not being in the office when it’s not by choice, that can really grate on your confidence.

Basically…

Working from home is a mixed bag. It can be amazingly helpful time- and logistics-wise! However, emotionally and socially, it can be a real impairment and no one likes to be made to feel like a problem. In an ideal world, I think I’d work a mixture of at home and in the office, but learning to put my health first has been essential in my career.

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Author: Ruthy Websdale