Does Working From Home Equal Work-Life Balance?

I just finished reading this article about how more and more employers are trying to accommodate alternative work schedules and it got me thinking… Does working from home automatically mean you’ve got better work-life balance?

I’m on the fence.

On the one hand, it’s obvious that the more flexible your schedule is, the more you’ll be able to fit your work around the rest of your life’s obligations (especially when you have kids). Theoretically it means you can work when you want and your work becomes more about meeting deadlines than about punching a clock.

All good things.

But, in my experience, when you work from home, work has a way of seeping into every thing else you do at home. I think there’s a sort of guilt involved… you feel like you should be constantly be proving to your boss and co-workers that you’re working hard and not taking advantage. So, you become that crazy lady at the Starbucks that can’t even look up from her Blackberry long enough to make eye contact with the barista.

I find that, if you aren’t careful, working from home can rob you of the very balance that you’re trying to achieve. Without that clearly demarcated line between the “home sphere” and the “work sphere” your house can very quickly morph into the “sphere where I do absolutely everything, as fast as I possibly can.” Not a very balanced way to live.

But, don’t get me wrong. I’m not against working from home.

What I am against is employers turning employees privilege to work from home into a way to demand that workers are available 24/7.

I think it’s important that when you work from home, you clearly establish times you’re available for calls and emails… and stick to that. Like office hours for a professor.

It doesn’t mean that you can’t work all hours of the night… if you want to. Just make sure you’re not allowing yourself to be over-worked just because you have the privilege of working from home.

After all, what’s the point of working from home if you don’t ever have the chance to have a 5 minute conversation with your family without being interrupted?