Why I Enjoy Working from HomeWednesday, January 13, 2016
I've been trying to put together a post on what it's like to work from home since this past summer. I'm glad it has taken me awhile to get my thoughts written down, because every month becomes another huge learning experience (about myself and about working from home). There are countless articles and opinions out there about the pros and cons of working from home and, trust me, I've read more than my fair share of them. These thoughts are just my experience thus far (which isn't very long actually - only six months so far) and certainly won't apply to everyone's experience of working from home or even in an office, for that matter.
As a quick recap, I started working from home this past summer when Mark and I moved from our home in Richmond (which was about a 10 minute commute from my job) to Athens (about an 8 hour "commute"). I am lucky enough to have two very awesome bosses who were willing to let me work remotely from Athens. You can read a little more about what I do in my job here. In hindsight, it was a big gamble for the both of us. None of us really knew how this arrangement was going to work out.
It has been several months of adjusting and while, process-wise, I can say it is working out well, I can also confidently say that I really like working from home. I know some of you might be shaking your head and thinking "Well duh. Who wouldn't like working from home?!" I wasn't naive going into it though and that was a real worry for me. I've heard enough stories of failed working from home attempts to know that it doesn't always work out. I had a genuine fear that the novelty was going to wear off after a few months and I was going to go insane sitting at my house all day. Thankfully that hasn't happened. Here are a few reasons why I think it works well for me:
I love creating my own routines
Structure is a key part of working from home, I think. Without it, work bleeds into life which bleeds into your mental state which turns you CRAZY. I love creating my own routines and sticking to schedules. Call it self-discipline, a touch of OCD, whatever you want, but I think this trait works well for my particular situation.
I'm cool going all day without talking to someone
Maybe it's the introvert in me, but I really don't mind being by myself for the majority of the day. There have definitely been times when I've seen an article or video online that I know one of my coworkers would like and I miss being able to just look up and start talking to them about it. Luckily, they are just a phone call away so we get to chat pretty regularly during the week.
I like alone time
This kind of goes along with what I sad above, but it's true: I really enjoy being by myself. I recently listened to a Death, Sex, and Money podcast about living alone (I mentioned it in this post) and I found myself agreeing with so many of the opinions expressed in that episode. I don't live by myself, of course, but there's still something to be said for being alone for big chunks of time. I like stepping away from my desk and fixing a lunch for myself and then doing whatever I want while I eat it — read a book, listen to more podcasts, watch Netflix, work, or walk around the house getting my steps in. It's total "me" time that just doesn't happen while you are in an office.
I better plug in here that it is not always easy. Cabin fever is a very real thing. When I first started working from home, I treated my days as if I was still at the office. I think this mindset is important in order to keep from blowing work off and sitting on the couch all day. But, the reality is, I'm not at the office all day. I'm not popping into client meetings, checking out the latest design work that a coworker is working on, talking about new client websites, or discussing the latest movie we saw. All of these little things help break up the day, but when you're working from home, all there really is to do is work. After a few months of this, I realized I was going to have to make a new schedule or burnout very quickly. Now, my days at the home office are somewhat different from the main office. I make myself take breaks, just as I would if I was stopping to chat with my co-workers or walk to the water fountain. Ever so often, I'll spend a morning working from a coffee shop or bookstore and then finish out the workday at home. I also try really hard to get out of the house in the evenings, whether to a yoga class or to the grocery store to pick up dinner. Lifehacker shared this article recently about the need of creating a commute even if you work from home. It's so true! Just a few minutes in the car goes a long way towards curing cabin fever. I'm excited to see how working from home pans out in the future. It has been such an interesting learning experience so far....plus, there's nothing like being the only one in charge of the Spotify playlist all day. ;)
I would love to hear about your experience if you are/used to work from home. Maybe there's a fun series in here somewhere? Leave a comment below or shoot me an email if you're interested.