Working From Home: Dream or Mirage?
Depending on your personality, working from home may sound like glorious freedom or a prison of isolation. I’ve worked from home for the past five years and have found it to be both. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or an employee working remotely, the number of people working from home is on the rise.
Pros of Working From Home
Let’s get the obvious practical reasons out of the way. The low overhead and tax breaks make the home office an attractive option. Overall, you can get more done without office distractions, but it does require discipline and structure.
No more road rage. Expletives tend to fly out of my mouth during rush hour when people drive like dummies, which would put me in a cranky state of mind by the time I got home. You can take the 20 minutes you spent in the car in the morning and add it to your morning routine to meditate, journal, go for a quick walk or just sleep longer.
Play your music or podcast as loud as you want. Get comfy. Skip the makeup and wear yoga pants. Have your cat on your lap while you work.
When I first started working from home I was really excited about the no dress code thing. Most of my meetings were via phone conference, so no one could see what I looked like. But be warned, it’s a slippery slope!
It started as a desire for complete comfort while I was working at my desk. I began choosing yoga pants over jeans, sweatshirts over blouses, and not wasting time on makeup. I love my super soft hedgehog slippers, but going to the extreme with the laid back attire can have unexpected psychological side effects. For example, after a few months of my “giving zero f*cks about my appearance during the work week”, I started to feel sluggish and lethargic the more I let myself go. I did some experimenting to see if my appearance had anything to do with my work.
On the days I woke up, showered, picked out an outfit, and put on a bit of makeup, I felt way more assertive and powerful. Even though no one could see me, the way I physically presented myself to the world definitely affected my productivity and state of mind. It’s all mental.
Now I get dressed for the day and make those decisions for me. I want to feel powerful, like a badass chick getting it done. Being your own boss means it’s all on you to make the deadlines and meet the deadlines. You can do that and be comfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I have days when my hair glistens in a greasy ponytail and I’ve worn sloppy yoga pants for the past three days, but I also have more ‘power outfits’ in the closet when I need them. If I have an important client call or a big deadline, I’ll wear the outfit that makes me feel empowered. I swear it helps.
Cons of Working From Home
Distractions & Interruptions
There may not be chatty coworkers or meetings, but there are still distractions. Some are out of your control, like solicitors, deliveries, phone calls, neighbors, lawn blowers, and construction work on your street. Then there’s more subtle distractions from your personal life, like dishes in the sink, that last episode of the TV show you're binge watching, your bed calling your name to take a little siesta. One tip I can strongly suggest is keeping office hours. Dedicated hours that are just for work and officially ending the work day at a set time. That means not answering your cell phone when a friend calls during the day, even though you really want to talk. That also means not replying to work emails outside of those work hours.
Before I had a kid, days would go by and I realized I had no contact with another human being (besides my husband). I’m an introvert so this usually didn’t bother me, but when I noticed I was having one sided conversations with the dog and oversharing during small talk with a complete stranger at the grocery store, I thought it might be a sign I needed more human interaction.
24 Hour Access to the Kitchen
This may sound like a pro, but I’ve found it to be a double edged sword. With no co-workers around, there’s absolutely no judgement about how many snacks you consume or how high the pile of chocolate wrappers on your desk grows to. Those bad habits can quickly lead to an expanding waistline, especially if you spend the majority of your day sitting at a computer.
Control + Alt + Delete
You have to wear all of the hats – even the ugly hat that you hate. Working from home you become Tech Support, Office Manager, and the cleaning service. For me, the ugliest hat is Tech Support. When my computer is giving me attitude, I wish I could call up my IT guy and have the problem solved while I take a break. Instead, I have to rely on Google and figure it out myself.