The idea of a commute from the bed to the bedroom office appeals to many, and with good reason: working from home has been shown to increase productivity and happiness. While many remote workers have sung the praises of saving gas money and a flexible schedule, it isn't a good fit for everyone. If you're working up the chutzpah to ask the boss to let you skip coming in, or if you're considering running your own business from home, take the other side of the story into account before you decide.
The Question of Discipline
This is a multifaceted issue. Some workers have no issue knocking out tasks and avoiding distractions, but if you're the type that occasionally drifts into clicking around the internet or pressing 'next' on Netflix too many times you'll have to figure out a system for staying productive. The other side of the coin is that many of your office-bound teammates will silently question your work ethic and commitment. This can create an uphill battle of putting valuable energy into constantly proving your work ethic to your coworkers, your boss, and even your clients if you own a small business. Again, it's completely possible to set a schedule and show your productivity with daily email updates or some other kind of system, but know that you'll have to work this into your plan.
The Battle to Maintain a Professional Image
This is an issue whether you're self-employed or work for someone else. Unfortunately, the concept of at-home workers commonly conjures up images of sweatpants, waking up whenever, and constantly tending to kids and pets. It's an unfair portrayal of the home-based professional, but the stereotype exists. Keeping up an air of professionalism can be especially difficult for those trying to build a business on their own when the mailing address given to clients looks residential, or when you have to mute a conference call to put the barking dog outside. When you're daydreaming from your cubicle about never commuting again it's easy not to think about this, but there are other solutions.
The Loss of Impromptu Learning
When coworkers show up to the same building every day, they naturally run into each other in the hall or the cafeteria and end up talking. Sometimes these unplanned discussions can result in collaboration, a sudden insight about a project, or learning something new. If you stay home to do your daily tasks, this isn't a part of your landscape anymore, and you can feel left out of the loop eventually. You might also get sick of having to email, call, or Skype every time you need to ask a question or give someone an answer. And if you're an extrovert you might actually get lonely.
The Lack of Boundaries
From the vantage point of a windowless cube or at the urging of an entrepreneurial spirit ready to ditch corporate America, working from your own personal office seems like a holistic approach to life. People might advocate for less compartmentalizing, but without a separate workplace and home you're never completely at work or completely at home. The couch where you work on your laptop is not exactly a relaxing place to watch TV anymore. Young children might not understand why you play with them sometimes and send them away at other times. The ability to work morning, noon or night might turn into you working morning, noon, and night because you can never really get away. Depending on your situation, a little separation could be good.
These drawbacks aren't necessarily barriers to telecommuting; you just need to include them in your decision making process, and plan for them with scheduled routines, systems, and habits. But that means spending more time on putting them into place and communication in addition to the normal workload, which might not be a great fit for some personalities. In short, sometimes a geographical separation between work and home is the best way to achieve overall happiness.