It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.
“According to a new survey of people who currently telecommute, 40% of employees would be willing to take a pay cut in order to [continue] to work out of their home. Of this 40%, 74% would be willing to give up between 2 and 5% of their salary and 20% would take a 10% cut.” (“Study: Employees Are Willing to Take Pay Cuts and Give Up Their Favorite TV Show to Work From Home,” TheGrindstone.com, 7/19/2011)
Other things people will give up to maintain their telecommute status: a beloved TV show (54%), an extra hour of sleep (48%), a favorite food (40%). While I currently adore my work-from-home status I don’t think there’s a single thing worth sacrificing these luxuries for. TV, food and sleep? Might as well be air, water, and my firstborn.
I’m intrigued by this study because I started working out of my home about a month ago. There is absolutely no question that I am happier (according to this article, “when asked to draw comparisons, telecommuters say their stress levels have dropped 25% on average and their overall happiness increased 28% since working from home. Seventy-three percent even say they eat healthier “). But it took me a little while to figure out how to make the new setup work for me.
As I’ve written here before, my biggest concern about being self-employed (I don’t think you can call what I do telecommuting, since there’s no main office of Rachel Bertsche, Inc. Just me, my computer, and my favorite coffee shop) was the lack of social interaction. My living room is nice and all, but I start talking to inanimate objects after only a few hours of silence. And given the persuasive studies about how significant work BFFs are to happiness, I thought I might be in bad shape. Especially after talking to so many previously self-employed folks who warned me about getting the stir-crazies.
I’ve figured out the whole “be a productive member of society and also change out of your pajamas thing” by setting a schedule. Workout at 8:30. Shower at 9:45. In front of the computer, in public, by 10:30. (Yes, it’s a bit late, but that’s the beauty of reporting to yourself.)
For me, the “in public” part is key. Working in public, specifically in a nearby coffee shop, means I must get dressed like an employed person, rather than donning my alternative homeless person uniform. It also means I get to know the other regulars. They’re like co-workers. Some I talk to, others I smile at. It’s like an office, minus the cubicles.
The above study mentions nothing about how the absence of coworkers affects telecommuters. That potential loneliness (remember the lady who told me that to survive working from home you need “a good anti-depressant”?) seems to me the obvious downside, especially if current research–which predicts 43% of the U.S. workforce will work from home by 2016–is right.
I guess the question is friends vs. freedom. Is it worth the tradeoff?
Thoughts? Would you make the above sacrifices to work from home? And if you’ve worked from home before, did you love it or hate it? What’s more important–the social aspect of the office of the personal freedom of home?