I’ve been working from home since June 2011 = 5.5 years. Before that, I only worked in real offices for 3 years. So I’ve been working remotely longer than I ever worked in a workplace. Wow. We live in the future!
Now, I don’t work for myself (I’m not freelance), I work for a company. I’m just a remote employee, away from an office full of people up at headquarters 1,200 miles away.
Working from home is, on the whole, amazing and awesome. If you asked me how I like working from home, I’d say, without pause, “I love it.” But everything good is balanced with bad. Here’s what I think:
It’s quiet at home. I like quiet. I can sit and really think through things without having to drown out voices with noise cancelling headphones. I’m a quiet introvert by nature; quiet is my jam.
SUCKS: no co-workers
Yes, I have co-workers, but we obviously don’t work together in the same space. This makes casual brainstorming and impromptu chats about ideas super rare occurences. That melding of minds, that social interaction – I know they’re powerful, but it’s harder to do online. Also, communicating with people via email and the internet is so much slower. Meaning, intent, body language, and subtle messages get lost in translation.
AWESOME: no commute
I kind of hate driving. When I worked in an office and had to drive to work in snowy Minnesota weather, I would take the long way because it was more winding-back-roads/less go-fast-on-crowded-highway and it felt safer. Driving is stressful shit and I feel sad for anyone who has to commute to work everyday. I’m so incredibly thankful I don’t have to. Having to drive to work again would be a dealbreaker for me.
SUCKS: never leave the house
When you work, eat, chill, and sleep - all in the same space - you never have to leave the house! Working from home has definitely turned me into more of a homebody. Mayyyybe a little bit of a hermit. It’s just so EASY to stay home and fill my day with work and projects; sometimes I have to force myself to get the hell out of here for a change. Can’t say I’m proud of keeping myself cooped up all the time, but when my only reason to leave is to go buy an overpriced latte? I usually talk myself out of it.
AWESOME: flexible time
Because I don’t have to answer to a boss who sits down the hall, I have more flexiblity with my time and with how I choose to structure my day. It’s nice to feel like I have a safe space for drawing all day long and not being required to talk to anyone.
SUCKS: feeling like a slacker
There’s a stigma about working from home: that if you work at home you’re not really working, you’re just watching TV and sleeping. It’s an old-fashioned perspective, I think. Old skool managers think you’re trying to get out of work by “working” from home so you can just sit around all day and goof off. Anyone who works remotely will tell you this isn’t the case. In fact, I often feel like I need to prove that I’m a hard worker, by replying to emails right away, and always answering the phone, and working late if I didn’t “show” enough work for the day. Whatever that means. It’s all made-up in my mind. I never want to look like a slacker, so I try extra hard to not be.
Does anyone out there NOT like working from home? What are the biggest things you miss by being away from the action? Advice on keeping things balanced?