When I told my friends and family that I was going to start working from home, there was not a person among them that didn’t seem jealous and I was pretty smug about it myself. I had always wanted the freedom to manage my own time and work from home, in an environment where I felt I would get more done. Plus, who doesn’t want to go to work in their slippers? I should mention here that I do not work for myself and the company I work for decided to transition to having remote workers.
1. The way people view how you work changes
The amount of ‘jokes’ I get on a daily basis isn’t funny.
“Are you still in your pyjamas?”
“What time is it? Oh that means you must have just finished watching homes under the hammer”
Pretty funny the first time around, but it soon becomes tedious. One colleague actually managed original and funny jokes for about two months, but then began to recycle them. Joke re-cycling is not good for the planet or my sanity.
It gets to a point where you start to actually believe you are lazy and not doing enough work, as you are disjointed from the normal human context and body language that would come along with their comments. I just know I will go to the toilet one day, miss a phone call and get accused of being off on holiday or something and not at work.
2. You become some sort of hermit
Walking 10 paces from your bed to your place of work cannot be healthy. At first, working from home gave me a great opportunity to get up and go for a run in the morning, using the time I would normally commute to shower and eat breakfast. However, I know exactly how long it takes to get ready; I know I can stay in bed until 20 minutes before I need to be at work.
I have somehow decided I am an efficient lazy genius as I know exactly how little time I need in the morning, no make-up or smart clothes required, so that saves time, there’s no need to prepare lunch and if I am still eating breakfast, I can finish that at my desk. There’s not even any need to pack everything I need for work; it’s all there. I can even check my emails as soon as I wake up for anything urgent and get that out the way whilst face down in a bowl of cereal, in less time that it takes to go for a run.
By the time the end of the day rolls round I have to prize myself out of my seat, so I get up and look out of the window, decide it looks way too real outside and plonk myself back at my desk to get on with my blog and any other personal admin. Not being forced to leave the office, get in your car and drive home at the end of the day does nothing for your motivation. I used to get home and go out on my bike, now I just sit in front of my screen ‘Internetting’ or watching YouTube videos of someone else biking.
Never again will I have to go and retrieve my parcels from the courier, no ‘sorry we missed you ‘ notes; I’m always in and therefore will never miss a delivery. Bliss you say? Just another excuse to never leave the house. What’s more, I can just order in my favourite snacks, meaning even less leaving the house. I best order some bigger pyjama trousers too.
3. You get more done
Now I thought I would get more done when I moved my office to my home, but I hadn’t really had visions of becoming a domestic goddess. I thought my actual work productivity would increase immensely though. On the way to make a cuppa, I can put the washing on, at lunch I can empty the dishwasher, put yesterday’s washing away and if I am feeling particularly adventurous, put the bins out. I used to use my lunch to call friends and work on things that meant something to me and my future, but it’s hard to do that with a pile of dirty dishes staring at you and household chores building up. At work, I could forget about them.
There is no commute at the end of the day, so I use this time to continue working and don’t normally get up until my other half walks through the door, full of the joys of his day in a busy office. I used to use my commute to listen to pod casts or call family…now I am just perfecting the arse groove in my office chair.
4. You feel behind the times
Working from home for long enough, you start to feel out of touch with the real world. I sometimes feel the need to go and hang out in a busy public place to see if the world has radically changed whilst I have been sat at my desk with my head in my computer, or to check if I actually still exist. I find myself frantically scrolling through YouTube, looking at the latest trends before going out, in case, god forbid, I have to make small talk with my fellow humans. Apparently, messaging the person sat across from you is not as socially acceptable as I thought.
At the weekend your friends are full of hilarious work stories, like how Janice turned up with last night’s make-up on stinking of booze and how Tim is now sleeping with the boss. I’m sat there coming out with things like, “funny story, a pigeon nearly walked in through my office window the other day”.
5. Human interaction becomes awkward
The first chat of the day with your colleagues, when you haven’t yet uttered many words, the one where your first words sort of come out like you smoke 50 a day. Well that no longer happens at 8am, that, embarrassingly, happens at about 1’clock when you nip into town to grab a sandwich and the woman behind the counter looks at you like, “I wish I could stay in bed until 1, lazy bitch”. Or even worse, at 11 when your joker of a supplier rings with their daily pyjama joke and you sound like you have in fact just gotten up. You can’t help it that you haven’t actually uttered any words that day so far and you have just been typing away in your own little world. Maybe I should be aspiring to do voice exercises in the morning, rather than motivating myself to go for a run.
6. Your diet changes
It’s suddenly like being a student again. There is no-one here to see me eat cold pizza for breakfast so who cares; Julie from finance isn’t judging me because I had two doughnuts with my coffee, ok three.
“I have so much more time to do a weekly shop now and make healthy choices” turns into “I haven’t left the house today, why start now, let’s play fridge roulette and see what I can knock up”, or worse, “hello, pizza hut?”
I find myself wondering, on a daily basis, would it be different if it were my own business or is this way of working just clashing with my personality? I love working remotely. Give me my laptop, a busy airport lounge, the back seat of a taxi, the top of a mountain and I will be the most efficient worker you have ever seen, but stick me the same room day in day out and I will turn into a lab monkey, eating my own weight in bananas and rocking back and forth in the foetal position.
My advice to you is to take some time and figure out the environment in which you work best. If you have identified that you don’t work well in your current environment then change it. The next time you are envious of someone’s working situation, try it out first, don’t commit and make your job more stressful.
We spend so much of our lives working, so where and how do you want to work?