Employees across the globe are working remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic. Here are the perks and perils of working from home, according to people who have done it for years.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderThe coronavirus pandemic has employees of companies across the world working from home.
  • Apple, Google, Amazon, and several companies across the globe have asked employees to work from home to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
  • The debate over whether companies should allow their employees to work from home has been fairly polarising in the past. Some executives say encouraging remote work is necessary to keep the best talent around, while others argue that only slackers want to work from home … and who needs them?
  • Business cases can be made on both sides of the issue about how working remotely affects employee retention and engagement and the bottom line.
  • We asked Business Insider employees and readers with remote work experience their thoughts on the whole practice. Here’s what they had to say:
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Responses have been edited for clarity.


Working from home eliminates stresses, but be sure to get outside or you’ll go insane.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderFind time to go outside during the day.

I spent about two years as a freelance journalist, and I worked from home for most of that time.

I loved the ability to talk to very important sources in my underwear. Jokes aside (maybe): Working from home eliminated my commute, plus the time and frustration it involved. For many people who work from home, “no commute” means priceless sanity and more than an hour back in our pockets. We can spend that time and energy toward family, fun, or more hustling in our line of work.

But you have to get out or you’ll go insane. Exercise outside.

-Dave Mosher, Business Insider science and technology senior correspondent


Adopt a dog, too.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderSeveral remote workers say having a dog improves their day.

I adopted a dog. She reminded me – perhaps too consistently with her licks and jumping in my lap – that there’s this thing beyond work called “life,” and you have to live it. She got me off my butt three times a day for walks, which also helped connect me to my neighbourhood, its people, its pains, and its promise. Adopt a dog if you go this route. It can be more work, but thousands of dogs are euthanised every day in the US. They need us – and work-from-homers need them.

-Dave Mosher, Business Insider science and technology senior correspondent


It’s much more flexible, but you’ll miss coworker camaraderie.

Hollis JohnsonEmployees at Insider Inc.’s global headquarters.

Working from home has allowed me to direct my time to suit my family’s needs. And I can exercise when I feel like it.

But I miss coworker camaraderie.

Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, self-employed civility expert, author, media source


It can feel more productive, but sometimes it’s hard to turn off work.

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesPresident Barack Obama working at night during his time in office.

After living in Manhattan for about nine years, I had just moved to Austin when I started working at Business Insider in 2010. I had just had my first daughter and wasn’t anxious to move back to NYC, and they were OK with me working from home, so I stayed here. I have been working from home for about 10 years now.

There are fewer distractions (most of the time). In an office setting, there are a lot of little “time-sucks,” such as just organising your desk in the morning, or getting coffee and chatting with somebody along the way, or somebody asking you to go get lunch. Those little distractions add up in an office, and I rarely have stuff like that at home.

There has also, for me at least, always been more pressure to be productive when working at home. Let’s face it: In an office, there is an art to looking busy. You can’t do that from home. You can’t pretend. You have to produce or people will notice, and in fact, people are probably watching closely because this type of situation is not for everybody, and some may take advantage of it.

It is also hard for me to turn work off sometimes because my office and computer are always so close. There is a sense of always being on call, which is, of course, part of the job. But even beyond the big stuff, work is sometimes just a constant presence because it is always right there.

-Cork Gaines, Insider sports editor


There’s more time for kids, but less social interaction with adults.

Getty/Lean In/Tara MooreSome remote workers say they get to spend more time with their kids.

Personally, there are also big pluses. I get to spend more time with my kids, and I feel like it is easier to detach and take quick breaks during the day. If I need a quick break, I can go work in the garden for 15 minutes or take the dog for a quick walk. You can take breaks at an office also, but there is something comforting about doing it with personal things at home that really help you relax for a little bit.

But while there are fewer distractions, when there are distractions they can be bigger. Both of my kids are in school, so I am usually home alone when working. But occasionally one is sick or there is a school holiday that may not be a work holiday. For people who work in offices, it is definitely an inconvenience, but they just cut the cord and take the day off. For me, I always feel pressure to keep working on those days because I am still close to my office and there is nothing wrong with me personally. But at the same time, it can be hard to work and have one or two kids running around with constant needs.

One of the biggest challenges for me early on was the lack of social interaction with other people. I definitely missed that at first. I feel like the team messaging app Slack has helped with that a lot, and I try to video chat with the other members of the team on a regular basis. So that no longer feels like a downside, but is definitely something I would think a lot of people need to adjust to early on.

It is also a lot harder now to get my 10,000 steps in every day. I think my FitBit just laughs at me.

-Cork Gaines, Insider sports editor


The freedom can be distracting, so set time goals.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderDon’t get distracted by the freedom that comes with working remotely.

I used to freelance edit when I lived in Miami. The hardest part was sitting still and not going to the fridge, getting up and roaming, or checking the web. The idea that I was always free to do whatever whenever became a distraction.

So, I would set time goals. I’d say, “I’m going to work for the next two hours straight or work until a designated time without getting up.” Once I hit that goal, I’d then take a short break.

Some days I was fine and could crank through, but this was my strategy for those tougher days.

Sam Rega, Business Insider senior video producer and director


Working from home gives you the ability to mix up your day.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderA park in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighbourhood.

I almost never work from home these days. But I have in the past in some other jobs. One year I had a serious leg injury after a mountain-biking accident, and I got to work from home for a period of six months or so because I basically had to sit on the couch with my laptop.

The things I love about working from home include:

• No commuting! This saves time and money and maybe stress, too.

• The freedom to work in super-casual clothes like shorts and no shoes.

• You can play music or talk radio without headphones or have the TV on in the background.

• You can eat in your own kitchen.

• You can really concentrate and focus more, depending on your home and what’s going on.

The general flexibility to mix up your workday with a workout, a walk outside, and so forth; taking breaks is easier.

The things I hate about working from home are:

• Just not being out in the world and meeting people and all that.

• Communication over IM or email or phone is never as easy or good as in person.

• There’s no one to talk to in person or bounce ideas off of.

• If you are not good at staying focused, you can get distracted easily by things and be less productive.

If you work from home regularly, you spend a lot of time at home! You’re always in the same place with work and outside work.

-Daniel McMahon, Insider Inc. copy chief


Worries that working from home would get boring and lonely ceased thanks to the company’s use of tools like Slack.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderUsing Slack and Face Time to keep in touch with Insider while working from home.

I was terrified to start working from home. I had a fair amount of experience working remotely in previous jobs. My first reporting jobs had me on the road all the time, running to courthouses to cover various cases, following presidential candidates on the campaign trail, shifting between a desk at the White House and my newsroom desk. I loved being on the move and I got very accustomed to working autonomously.

Then when I started working at Business Insider, I got very attached to my coworkers and the routines of office life. As I prepared for the transition to working from home, it comforted me that I had some experience working remotely, but I also knew that working from home 24/7 would be a lot different than running around on the campaign trail and getting to pop into the newsroom whenever I was in town.

My most nagging concerns about working from home were that it would get boring, lonely, monotonous, and maybe even depressing.

One year later, my feelings about it have changed completely. Slack enables me to feel totally plugged into the newsroom and connected to my coworkers all the time. I have Facetime meetings with my team regularly, and Business Insider does a great job of making newsroom meetings and other events available via conference call.

-Hayley Peterson, Business Insider chief correspondent


It gets lonely but having a dog helps.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderWorking from home is better with my dog.

There are some advantages and things I love about working from home:

• My productivity has improved a lot – I think because I’m not spending any time commuting and have fewer distractions at home.

• I have more access to the retailers that I cover. I’m in the heart of American retail here in Richmond, Virginia, and it has been so helpful in deepening my understanding of these businesses to be able to visit them and interact with them regularly. It’s also great to be able to interact more with shoppers that frequent the stores I cover.

• I can take my dog for quick walks in the middle of the day. Also, I get to spend all day with him!

• I eat healthier and spend less on food because I make lunch at home.

• I can wear whatever I want!

And there are some disadvantages:

• You tend to work longer hours when working from home, according to my own experience and talking to other fellow work-from-homers. I think it’s harder to unplug yourself when home = office.

• It definitely gets lonely! Most of the time I’m so absorbed in my work that it doesn’t bother me, but sometimes (especially in the winter) it can get lonely and monotonous.

• I really miss hanging out with my coworkers at lunches, happy hours, etc. This is probably the biggest disadvantage in my opinion.

• I miss out on meeting and getting to know new hires until I visit the office.

-Hayley Peterson, Business Insider chief correspondent


It saves time and money, but you’ll miss the collaboration.

Hollis JohnsonEmployees at Insider Inc.’s global headquarters.

The upside to working from home is that I spend less time commuting and not doing my hair or makeup saves time and money and makes me a better employee.

I’m at my desk at 8 a.m. because I don’t have to commute. I stay on email until 5:30 or 6 p.m. because I don’t have to commute. I’d much rather spend those commuting hours helping my team drive revenue.

The downside is that you miss the collaboration that occurs spontaneously. There’s a big difference between working remotely when your team is in the office versus everyone working remotely. If everyone is remote, you’re on an even playing field. If only a few are remote, they are excluded. Nobody means to exclude them, but decisions get made and impromptu meetings happen without them.

Margaret Barrett, Pearson district sales manager


Working from home allows for more family time, but there’s no separation between work and home life.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderSometimes you have to work where you eat.

I worked from home for the better part of five years.

I loved that I did not have to spend time commuting and that I could take breaks during slow times to enjoy my family.

I hated that there’s never any relief from work when you’re working from home. You’re always on call, you always feel the need to respond, and there’s no separation between your work and home life.

Matt Rosoff, CNBC editorial director, digital


It gives you the freedom to work on several projects at once, but it can get lonely.

Andrew Burton/Getty ImagesWorking at different locations helps some remote workers.

Depending on your job and how much structure you like to have each day, working remotely is a great option.

I’ve had a few freelance writing positions where I worked remotely, and it gave me the freedom to travel, run errands, and work on several projects at once.

It can get lonely for some people, but writing is a pretty solitary job to begin with – plus you can hang out with your friends after hours.

-Kelsey Mulvey, Business Insider commerce reporter


Working from home doesn’t always transfer well depending on your workflow.

Meghan Morris/Business InsiderSome people try not to work from home unless it’s necessary.

I hate not having my computer at home, complete with all of my bookmarks and auto-completes. Part of the way I’ve solved this is by getting a computer with the same operating system as my work computer when it came time to replace my old one, and installing the same browser plugins and extensions.

It’s an imperfect system. And kind of extreme. My other technique is much more successful: I work from home as rarely as possible.

-Libby Kane, Personal Finance Insider Director of Content Strategy


Working from home is easier when you love your job.

Joey Hadden/Business InsiderIt’s easier to motivate yourself to do work you love.

At the end of the day I think successfully working from home just comes down to whether or not you love your job. If you love it, it works, because you’ll never have a problem getting motivated to do the work. If you don’t love it, it won’t work.

-Cork Gaines, Insider sports editor

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