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I'm 41 years old. I'm an Australian, and I like things where I am. At 15, I took to software development (computer programming as I knew it then, and as it probably still is now) because it promised me two things: absorbing and intellectually stimulating work and work that could be done away from social intimacy.

I had an accident when I was 12. I sustained an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) and spent three months in hospital. I also tend toward solitary occupations - this seems to have come further into play after my accident, though as a 12 year-old 29 years ago, my social skills were perhaps just developing.

It wasn't until I resigned my seventh job (with Accenture) because of their refusal to let me work from home that I saw a psychiatrist. Everything fell into place.

Why do employers still refuse to let me work for them from home? I don't have to be in an office to do my work, and I assume it works for them because they don't have to pay for an office to have me.

What are the actual and perceived disadvantages, for my employer, of my working from home?

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    Owen, I have changed the title and actual question of your post in an attempt to make it less 'asking for opinions', and to present an actual question instead of a complaint. It is attracting close votes. – user8036 Aug 28 '15 at 8:05
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    obligatory theOatmeal link – Federico Aug 28 '15 at 8:53
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    I would recommend to rewrite the question and remove lots of stuff - Actually the real question is just the last pharagraph - The OPs injury has not much to do with anything. While I understand it is relevant to the OP, it isn't really relevant to the question asked. – Reinstate Monica - dirkk Aug 28 '15 at 12:08
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    The biggest disadvantage FOR ME (it's different for everyone) is distraction. At home there are pets to play with, games on my computer, the wife running around in practically nothing, etc. etc. – Omegacron Aug 28 '15 at 13:57
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    For teams of people used to being able to talk in person, collaborating effectively with a remote worker can be difficult. There is plenty of evidence showing that remote working can work well, but it takes effort. – Justin Aug 28 '15 at 15:10
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This is likely to be very opinion based on company specific, and there are many companies like Stack Exchange who embrace remote offices, however the principal reasons often revolve around collaboration.

While this is very possible remotely (and I support this model completely), the thinking is that staff are in close proximity. If they have a question they can just turn around and ask. Also you can't understate the impact of the "watercooler chat" (hence the name of our chat room :) ), where it's often the informal chats getting a cup of coffee or water in a relaxed environment where problems get incidentally resolved.

You could of course say that some organisations just don't trust their staff, and that's entirely possible. But collaboration is why they try to colocate teams that need to work together in the same space.

None of these are insurmountable in the home office, but my experience is that these are the primary justifications for it.

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    Collaboration is a function of communication. Communication is difficult when everyone's remote. Not impossible, but a company has to put a lot more time and effort into it. – Ben Aug 28 '15 at 6:55
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    @Ben You need people who are a lot more independent, and who do not shy away from communication (it's a lot easier to say two words to a colleague in an office than doing the same remotely). Those people are a lot rarer, and more valuable - if you're good enough for 100% remote work, you're probably going to be quite expensive :D – Luaan Aug 28 '15 at 9:02
  • @Ben I'd expect the cost of putting in place a decent remote communication process (using things like sqwiggle.com, some form of IM or Skype) is far less than the ongoing cost of having an office. The time and effort comes in converting an ancient company to this mindset, which is why a lot of companies that positively support remote working are startups (they planned it in from the start). – Rikki Aug 28 '15 at 16:21
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    @Rikki I work at a startup that is quite positive about people working remotely, and I can tell you that in my experience a decent remote communication process is still massively inferior to actual in-person communication – Carson63000 Aug 28 '15 at 22:30
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    @Carson63000 What tools do you use? – Rikki Aug 28 '15 at 22:52
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I also dream of working independently and from wherever I want. But there are some things to consider about full-time teleworking:

  1. Out of sight, out of mind It is harder to get people to remember you're there when they never see you. You run the risk of not getting promotions, bonuses, and even new project assignments.

  2. Non-Verbal cues If you're only a disembodied voice, people may not understand all you're trying to communicate, and vice versa.

  3. Camaraderie matters Though you may not value it, many people do. Performance reviews seem to go better when people like you.

  4. Availability Impromptu conversations are often needed to resolve issues quickly, and often, great new ideas come up from water cooler chats.

  5. Some companies just don't trust teleworking No, it's not fair, and no, it's not even realistic. But it is reality - some managers feel they have to see you working to know you're working.

All of these are able to be dealt successfully with as a full-time teleworker, but it's on you to make it happen.

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    +1 for the first and fifth point. In a previous company, we could work from home whenever we wanted, and some colleagues made an habit of it. People in the office would consider them to be off, on a trip, or barely available, and would find ways to work without them. One that barely showed at the office was assigned to a low visibility project, doing support only, and missing opportunities with a bigger project. And it led to awkward situations, when one man working remotely showed up at the office, some employees discovered him, believing he was new. – Majuj Aug 28 '15 at 8:16
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    +1 for point 1. People are busy...even if they are not willing to, not seeing you around may drop the priority they have in addressing issues related to you in favor of issues pushed in person by others. – Acorbe Aug 28 '15 at 8:41
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    One thing to note is that the issues listed here are rather unique to a traditional company that has become more remote friendly. Companies that are entirely remote or geographically independent are built (technologically and culturally) in such a way to directly address these issues. – Shauna Aug 29 '15 at 1:46
  • @Shauna Very good point. Companies that truly value remote work put in the effort to overcome as many of the downsides as possible. – Kent A. Aug 29 '15 at 20:40
  • Security breaches, at a phisical building is easier to deal with some infrastructure threats like viroses trojans etc. For exemple its not feasible for people working at big finantial institutions working from home. – lambdapool May 12 '16 at 13:44
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I work from home periodically and have over the past years. A good list of reasons I've found from my experiences:

  • Work/life balance may be harder. Especially if you don't have a dedicated workspace, it becomes harder to separate when you are working/not working.
  • Focusing on work is harder. It requires discipline to work from home indefinitely. A few days a week? Pretty easy. But when you have no peer pressure, you need some discipline to do so consistently. This is probably fairly dependent on each person.
  • No "water cooler" socializing. I literally talked to my manager about this yesterday, about how important it is to have informal non-work related discussions with coworkers. Some cultures really value relationship over work (India for example) and this is much harder to build remotely. This also affects project work, as all your reminders/questions have to be deliberate and not "we were eating lunch, asked about X" types of interactions.
  • Distractions unique to home. You might have neighbors mowing their lawn during a conference call (like me yesterday in a 1/1, that was awkward). Or you might have a bad internet provider. Or maybe you have a family/children in which case you may have constant distractions.
  • Visibility is much harder. If you don't put effort into it, you will nearly never get recognized and have visibility for what you are doing. Your boss won't see you working 8 or 10 hours, for example.
  • Problems may go undiscussed longer. If your manager is conflict averse, having a remote relationship is likely to make problems be unaddressed longer, as it's really awkward to do negative feedback through conference calls/etc.
  • It's easy to be distracted during meetings. Most people won't blatantly not pay attention in meetings in person. But it's really hard to have the same level of care if you can just put your microphone on mute and have no one viewing your screen, etc.
  • You might connect through VPN. This will vary based on how network intensive your work is, but for me, many of our applications are so slow through VPN. Fortunately for the key ones they have a Citrix hosting so I can now bypass this problem. But this would have prevented me from working 100% remotely in any sort of effective sense.
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    +1 I've worked from home for years now and this is a pretty definitive negative list. The biggest problem for most people I've found is "No "water cooler" socializing". Working from home has a tendency to make you more eccentric and weird over time. But that won't really make an observable change if your weird to start with, like me :). – Mark Rogers Aug 28 '15 at 14:30
  • I've been able to work effectively in the past through VPN by building a "desktop" VM in the company server cloud, installing all my apps there, and just doing remote desktop to that VM. Keeps the speed up very well. However, the downside is you're still exposed to flaky Internet connections (my current problem that keeps me from working remote)... – Brian Knoblauch Aug 28 '15 at 15:41
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    @BrianKnoblauch my boss did that for a long time (he also works remote) before some applications migrated to Citrix :) – enderland Aug 28 '15 at 15:45
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Answer from the perspective of the worker:

There is a risk of permanent mental stress possibly leading to something worse.

Permanently working from home over few years can set set up one's mind "this is my workplace". You just see the room or scenery outside the window and your mind and body automatically switches to mode "I am in work now". Once it develops over the time, this cannot be consciously controlled very easily, it has also something to do with subconsciousness. If there comes higher amount of stress in your work, amounts of unfinished work, difficult exhausting project or other factors, you instantly have it in your home. Keep working from that place and you will find that your mind (and your body) will slowly lose ability to stop and relax in your own home. Still keep working from home and you can observe your that efficiency drops over time. After few years going this way, you can be on way to more serious psychosomatic problems.

How this can be mitigated:

  • Work from room separate from your standard living area and do not spend time in that room outside of working hours.

  • Start going to workplace when there is more difficult or stressful part of project. Do not bring these things home. This also greatly helps other things, like time with co-workers – see other answers.

  • Hire small office near your home, go to work there.

This answer applies not only to company employees, but also to freelancers who do not necessarily need to spend time with a team.


Perhaps many people working from the office can confirm how relieving can be closing the office door when the work time is over. This was my view what comes if you do not comfort yourself with such a (maybe trivially-looking) privilege – leaving everything at the workplace.

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    Is this your opinion or you had looked into studies/research on it? While the logic of your answer sounds reasonable the bold "permanent mental stress" claim comes across a little dramatic without references. – Rarst Aug 28 '15 at 7:44
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    @Rarst – Honestly, it is my own experience after working home on various projects for 4+ years. I'd like to hear from someone working so long on non-trivial creative and stressful projects AND haven't applied those mitigation measures how they are doing. – miroxlav Aug 28 '15 at 7:49
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    This is more an answer to the question "why not work from home"? or "Why not do home office?" from the employee's perspective. I think OP is asknig the employer's perspective, assuming that the employee already has the issues you're talking about under control - separated living area, dedicated home office, etc. – Brandin Aug 28 '15 at 7:52
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    @miroxlav No, please, I think it's useful. – user11153 Aug 28 '15 at 8:00
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    It is in the employer's interest to keep a lid on employee stress, particularly in creative intellectual work. – mc0e Aug 28 '15 at 9:37
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It wasn't until I resigned my seventh job (with Accenture) because of their refusal to let me work from home that I saw a psychiatrist. Everything fell into place.

Why do employers still refuse to let me work for them from home?

You are probably choosing the wrong employers, and are getting hired with the wrong expectations.

Apparently, you chose an employer, worked there, and only then decided they should let you work from home. When they didn't you quit. Only you and the company can know for sure why they refused. Perhaps they didn't trust you enough to work remotely. Perhaps their infrastructure or work policies aren't sufficiently developed to permit remote work. Perhaps your role requires your physical presence more than you perceive. Perhaps they just didn't like you enough.

Instead, seek an employer with the specific intent of working from home. Many employers boast flexible work arrangements or work-from-home jobs on their websites these days. As @Shauna adds there are also sites dedicated to remote job postings now, such as weworkremotely.com. Find one of those companies. And during the interview process make sure to specifically ask how it works at their company, and learn if it fits your needs or not.

You can't just go to a company, get yourself hired, and then decide that they should let you work from home. It simply doesn't work that way.

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    To add, there are also sites dedicated to remote job postings now. weworkremotely.com is among my favorite such resources. – Shauna Aug 29 '15 at 1:50
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enderland mentioned being connected through VPN and how it's slow. I thought it worth mentioning that working from home all the time also poses the risk of not being able to work if any of the technology that enables this fails. Maybe your work is stored on the company's servers and the VPN goes down, or your personal internet goes out, or what have you. I think it makes people wary when you have to rely on these things all the time to be able to get stuff done, whereas if you work in the office there aren't as many points of possible failure.

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    To be perfectly fair this can happen if you are working in the office also if the network goes down. I have had it happen before where an network issue in one building will take down the network in all buildings. – Joe W Aug 28 '15 at 13:25
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    Many companies have fail-over procedures implemented for internet and other infrastructures. One could say you may be unable to work for a longer period of time if your internet went out at home, unless you have similar procedures in place. – Taylor Buchanan Aug 28 '15 at 14:48