It's BETTER than "OK"!
I was once in a similar position and I believe that you should jump at the opportunity to work from home as it will be beneficial and rewarding for both yourself and for the company.
Since I'm basing my opinion on *my own experience( with, here's a little background:
I had a job as Lead Developer over a small team, and I was about to become the single father of a newborn and was considering Paternity Leave. I was in the middle of a huge project (automating payroll & performance reporting for 5000 employees) so neither of us wanted me to put the project "on hold".
After discussion with my boss, we decided I'd try working from home full-time with no set schedule as long as I met deadlines and attended relevant meetings (remotely via speakerphone). The company had never before allowed anyone to work from home (especially with such sensitive data.)
As you stated, at home you are more comfortable and can set things up exactly how you want them. Ambience (like music, temperature, lighting) are your preference (without the boss having to worry about finding a "happy medium" to satisfy everyone.)
It's no secret that "a happy worker is a productive work". (Actually, studies show that there are other emotions more important to productivity, but happiness is important too!)
Since you are new, and you are the Lead, I would recommend that you setup regular in-office meetings every 1 or 2 weeks (but no longer). *As an example, perhaps...
- Fridays 1:00 - 2:30: (in-office) Mandatory meeting with your team (exclude the boss) where you to check in with everyone, get status updates, set goals for the following week, plus some generally friendly chatter.
This will be helpful to keeping your projects on-track, making sure everyone's on-board 9and nobody's falling behind), and will remind your team they they do have a Lead who's paying attention, not just off in his/her own world.
- Fridays 2:30 - 3:00 (in-office): Summarize your meeting into something a short ad-hoc report for the boss, summarizing what you're working on, current status, and next week's goals.
Perhaps include a simple graphical past/current/future list of milestones (ie., a project timeline like this) that the boss will understand with a glance, and will keep in the back of his/her head as your current status.
- Fridays 3:00 (in-office): Pre-scheduled recurring meeting with your boss to present your weekly update. The boss will surely be impressed with your initiative and your management skills.
Many people choose Monday mornings for this kind of meeting, but research shows show that that's a bad idea.
- Fridays 4:00 (off-site): Go out and socialize with your team, especially at first, and to celebrate completion of milestones, new staff, accomplishments, etc. Go to a pub for an hour or get appy's somewhere, bowling, etc. Don't get intoxicated every time but I believe everyone wants to work harder for an supervisor who they know is "keeping an eye on them" but is also a "real person who likes to have fun". Use this as a chance to thank them often and acknowledge their effort (even when under-par!)...
Remember, Taking breaks is still important even when at home, but will be more refreshing because you might have a better, more nutritious meal (than you would have had from the work microwave), have a nap, jump in the hot tub, go flirt with your neighbour, etc. See this formula for perfect productivity.
In my case I would work around the baby's schedule. Baby wakes up at 2:00 am, to fussy to sleep? No problem! I'd put the baby on my lap and gently bounce my knees while in front of the computer for an hour. Baby needs several naps per day? No problem! That's several 2 hour periods of super-productivity. Baby's crying in the background when I'm speaking on a conference call? Okay that did distract the call topic a few times, but it was mostly from others on the call telling me what I superhero I am for multitasking like this. ☺
Physical setup of your home office will affect productivity as well. There are a ton of resources online to give you ideas, including this article from Forbes (and more "fluffy" articles like how to create a Zen office on a budget).
I think it's important to convey to your boss that you are 100% flexible, should he/she need to change this arrangement in the future, either temporarily or permanently.
Employers like to know that you're willing to go out of your way, putting your personal life and preferences aside temporarily, when required for the good of the business.
Of your workplace has in-office meetings, I'd suggest doing your best to attend most or all of those in person, because it's a lot easier to communicate with people you don't know in person, plus you don't want to turn into "that faceless person that was in the office that one day and sends us emails all the time."
I think it doesn't have to be career limiting to work from home, but there are situations where it could be.
As mentioned above, I believe interaction with coworkers is extremely important. As mentioned above, you don't want to be "that faceless guy" because some coworkers will have no problem speaking negatively (or "gossiping") about someone they don't even know.
Make sure to participate in group activities others setup like lottery pool, charity collections, birthday cards etc. Setup a Secret Santa exchange during the holidays. Occasional staff party's are also extremely important to attend (for career reasons first, and then second for de-stressing).
Working from home (while caring for a newborn) turned out to be the most productive and fulfilling period of my entire career and of parenthood. I ended up getting multiple promotions and awards for my work during that time... It was definitely a highlight, and I miss it terribly!
I've never heard the expression you used,
the best cheese can be found in a mouse trap, but I disagree with it both literally and figuratively.
Given the choice between putting "expensive cheese" or "aerosol cheese", and knowing that either will catch the same number of mice, I would go cheap (unless I was planning on eating the mouse afterwards).
From the company owner's point of view, what would be Perfect? He/she would probably prefer it if his employees were happy and highly productive with little-to-no interaction from him/her, zero inter-employee conflict, deadlines being met, while always being aware of current status of all projects, and (most importantly) easy profit.
Nobody here can tell you exactly what you should do in this case because there are many variables to consider, and nobody else knows the dynamics of your particular company or employees.
Being a new company, you might be better off to work in-office for the first few weeks and then change to a home position. Both your team and the boss will see this as an obvious indication of your priority.
If the boss has to manage your team when you're not in-office, then you're not doing your job properly and need to get more involved immediately. If the boss wanted to go to Hawaii for a week, would the company "fall apart" or could you manage things yourself?
Make yourself available to the boss and your team by phone, at any hour. If you're making up your own schedule then others shouldn't have to work around it. If you decide to work from home but ever get the impression that others feel that you're inaccessible then something needs to change immediately.
Incidentally, I believe the "home-office/parenting multitasking" arrangement contributed to my child growing up into the relaxed, patient, organized non-narcissistic teenager he is now...
Starting from birth, he learned that although he's Dad's #1 priority and will always have his basic needs taken care of, real life requires attention to be split among several priorities. I was paid well to attend to my baby's needs while doing a job I wanted, on my schedule.
At the end of the day, the owner wants a company that can "run itself," not just to the bare minimum, but that can flourish even without the boss's interaction. The fact that you were given a "Lead" title implies that the owner doesn't want to have to deal with day-to-day stuff. That's your job.
If handled properly, working from home could be an excellent arrangement that will benefit the company, and more importantly for your own well-being and job satisfaction.
Be sure to let us know what you decide to do and how it turn out!