As both technology and companies that value flexibility continue to grow, it’s not a stretch to say many of us will get to know that oft-misunderstood beast — the job that “lets” you work from home — on a pretty intimate basis at some point in our careers.
And misunderstood it is. For those who haven’t personally experienced “telecommuting” for themselves, the sound of it is pretty glamorous (in the I-can-wear-pjs-all-day sort of glamour). Admittedly, there are perks: the aforementioned pjs; no more obnoxious commute; getting to work from the comfort of your couch or bed. But unlike the idealized vision many of us cubicle workers have cooked up, working from home is still working — and sometimes, it’s working harder than you would be at an office.
Here’s a little reality check for anyone who still believes working from home is tantamount to working basically not all:
1. Working from home essentially means working ‘round the clock.
This is because without a set start and stop to your work day, it’s easy to lose track of time and structure (10 a.m.? 10 p.m.? What’s the difference!). You’ll likely try to keep “regular” working hours, at least in the beginning, but actually enforcing them for yourself is another matter.
2. People will ask favors of you and expect you to help them now-right-now.
As previously established, most office workers operate with a bias, conscious or not, toward their at-home peers. No matter how many times you explain otherwise, on some level, people are always going to assume you have all the time in the world — and that you should be using it to help those of us who “really” work. Talk about obnoxious...
3. The perceived luxury of getting to wear pjs during the day, all day, comes with an expiration date.
There will be days where you wish so dang bad you had a reason to shower and wear real clothes. No, seriously. That happens.
4. Your human interaction during the week becomes severely limited.
In the beginning, you’ll likely be rejoicing the fact you no longer have to endure meaningless chit chat at the water fountain. But for anyone whose work transpires mainly online, having your main spoken conversation of the day be a phoned-in takeout order is liable to eventually feel pretty weird. Probably, you’ll try taking your work to a nearby coffee shop to shake things up and at least be able to sit near some other human beings. In the end, though, those coffee machines are just way too loud, and the barista's taste in music stinks.
5. And when you do go to company events — no one believes that you actually work with them.
This can feel a wee isolating, especially if your in-office coworkers actually enjoy a healthy, collaborative work culture. (Another related thing: “happy hour” is not in your vocabulary.)
6. “What’s a sick day?” you’ll stuffily whisper into the void.
When your day primarily consists of working on a laptop from your couch or bed anyway, “taking a sick day” isn’t liable to feel within the realm of reason. It’d feel weird not to work.
7. Distractions will lose their luster.
After a day or two of subpar focus with the TV on “in the background,” it’s probably getting shut off, for good. Many of us use Netflix or reading on the couch as a means to decompress after a full day at the office. But if you’re already spending the day on your couch, staying on it to veg in the little bit of time you aren’t working is hardly going to feel relaxing. More likely, you’d develop some pretty raging cabin fever.
8. But that doesn’t mean you can ignore them — especially if you’re a parent who works at home.
How does working from home while your kid is also home sick or on a break from school sound? Less than ideal? Yeah, that’s what we thought.
To be fair, there really are many wonderful advantages to working from home, and for a lot of people, it’s an ideal situation. But rest assured — it’s an ideal work situation. Because working from home is definitely, without a doubt, working.
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