I’ve worked from home for more than five years. My current work is inherently mobile so it makes sense, but even when I had a traditional 9-5 job I also worked from home as a remote employee. I won’t lie, there are some amazing benefits to not having to go into an office every day, but it’s not all puppies and unicorns either. Whenever I tell someone I work from the comfort of my home office I always get the same reactions of envy and teasing. Well, I’m a little tired of it so I thought I’d set the record straight about what it’s really like to work from home.
You Must Not Have to Work Very Hard
There’s this weird misconception about working from home that I must sleep in every day and lazily drag my pajama enrobed self down to a computer to leisurely start working at around noon or so. In actuality, I get up at 7:00 AM every day to take out the dogs and get my partner ready to leave for work. I then go to work and usually don’t leave my desk more than a few times every day. In fact, I keep on working until I go to sleep because there is no distinction between home and work; it’s all the same for me. Any time I get an email I respond to it and any time there’s something I have to do, I do it. I don’t take an hour for lunch or a break every few hours, there are no labor laws in my house and I plug away until everything I need to do gets done. Can I go run errands during the day? You bet, and that’s awesome but I’ve found that since I started working from home I’ve never worked harder.
You Can Sit Around and Watch TV All Day
The modern office worker has several fantasies that help them get through the workday and one of them is working from home in their slippers, eating bonbons and watching their ‘shows.’ Believe me, I know, I used to think the same thing. Whenever I heard that someone was working from home I thought they were lazy or at the very least avoiding real work. The truth of it is that I do in fact have the TV on all day, but it’s tuned to 24-hour cable news and simply serves as background noise for my work. Since I don’t have real live human interaction, I need to at least hear other voices for my own sanity but I definitely don’t sit on the couch and watch TV all day. Nor do I nap, eat bonbons or go to the spa. In spite of having an unconventional job I keep normalish work hours and even though I try to draw lines between working and nonworking hours and weekdays and weekends, I usually end up working all the time.
You Don’t Have to Deal with Coworkers
It’s true that coworkers can at times be annoying, especially when they randomly stop by your office to tell you the latest exploits of their kids, pets or significant others. I remember those days and I remember how I artfully dodged those I wanted to avoid. [Tip: If you walk around your office place holding a stack of paper people tend not to bother you] But once I started working from home I began to appreciate all the great things that working in an office can bring, namely human interaction. I’m an extremely social person and I feed off of talking with other people. It was only after losing that interaction that I realized the benefits. It’s nice chatting with office friends, going out to lunch at a nearby cafe or grabbing a drink after work. It’s nice to have someone remember your birthday and other significant life events. I miss that and I have for years. I love my dogs, but they tend not to talk back; at least not often.
You Are Free To Do Whatever You Want Whenever You Want
Ok, this is partially true. Yes, I can pop down to the store or pick up my dry cleaning whenever it’s convenient for me. But I still have meetings, conference calls and assignments that are due. I have a very structured day and any personal chores are carefully scheduled around what seems to be an endless array of phone calls. If you think about it, it’s pretty similar to what it’s like working in a traditional office, except that I can wear my slippers at the same time.
Overall working from home is indeed great, I can’t deny that. I have freedom and flexibility and save a lot of time and money from not commuting or sending my pups to doggie day care. It’s also the perfect solution for my tendency to travel frequently. But it’s absolutely not the Promised Land of the modern workplace that people envision it to be. In many ways it has significant disadvantages to working in an office, but after five years I can say without a doubt that there is no other place I’d rather work from more than home.