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3 Things No One Tells You about Working from Home

Working from home

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could sleep in every morning, roll out of bed and get right to work from the comfort of your couch?  No commute time, no need to worry about hair and makeup. You could set your own schedule, and spend more time with family and friends.

Sounds pretty great, right?

For millennials, work-life balance is a big priority.  Research conducted by Bentley University shows that 79% of millennials believe work environment is more important than salary. For many, this means working from home.

The benefits of telecommuting are pretty obvious, but the drawbacks aren’t discussed as often.

I’ve spent the last fifteen months working from home and have learned a lot, including a few things that no one ever tells you about working from home.  If you’re considering the transition to remote work, consider the following.

1. It’s Really Easy to Lose Track of Time

I always heard that it was difficult to stay focused when working from home.  Surprisingly, I find the opposite is true.  When you work in an office, coworkers are in and out—taking restroom breaks or smoke breaks, heading out to lunch, making a run to the bank or post office, etc.  For me, those were often cues to get up from my desk and take a break.  When you work from home, no one’s there to motivate you to leave your desk.  Before you know it, it’s 2:00 pm and you haven’t stopped to eat lunch.

Solution:  I’ve found that it’s helpful to schedule breaks into the calendar.  Commit to taking a 30 minute lunch break or a 15 minute snack break in the afternoon.  Put these appointments in your phone so you have a gentle reminder to get up and step away from the computer.

 2. It Can Get Lonely

I spent the first six years of my career working in a small advertising agency. It was a laid-back family environment complete with pot luck meals, water cooler talk, and afternoon brainstorming sessions.  It wasn’t uncommon for a vendor to stop by with bagels and coffee, and you never knew whose spouse, or child, or pet was going to pop in for a quick visit.

Working from home, there are many days that I have no face-to-face interaction with a human being.  It can feel isolating and cause a serious case of cabin fever.

Solution:  Force yourself to leave the house.  Commit to working from a public space—coffee shop, coworking space, library, etc.—one day per week. Schedule a lunch date with a friend.  Sign up for a midday class at your gym. Give yourself permission to leave the house, and don’t feel guilty about it. Your coworkers in the office leave their desk from time to time, and it’s okay for you to do that, too.

3. Snow Days Lose Their Charm

I hate cold weather, but I used to wish for one or two good snows each year. Why?  Because it meant I got to stay at home in my pajamas and catch up on Netflix.   When you work from home, you don’t get to take a snow day.  Meetings on your calendar go on as scheduled, and Netflix has to wait until after hours.

Solution: Take a few minutes to mope.  Hide all the snow day Facebook statuses from your Facebook timeline. But most importantly, remember how lucky you are. Don’t like the cold and snow? You can stay inside in your Snuggie all winter if you’d like.  And you never have to worry about commuting in ice and snow.

Working from home comes with benefits and disadvantages, but overall it’s a rewarding experience and a privilege.  Do you work from home?  What have you learned that came as a surprise?  Share your experiences in the comments.

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8 Responses

  1. I have worked from home for the past 14 months and have experienced everything you mentioned. I also try to schedule video conference calls with my colleagues at least once or twice a week so I am able to get some face to face interaction. It is not the same as sitting near them in person, but it helps to remember I am not on an island.

  2. That’s great advice, Jessica. I often have Google Hangouts with clients and coworkers. You’re right, it’s not the same as face-to-face, but it does make a difference. Thank you for reading and commenting! 🙂

  3. I’ve found that working from home got more fun once I took the self-employment route. I have my spouse for in-person interaction, and I’m an introvert anyway, but having client calls and podcast interviews sprinkled throughout the week keeps me engaged with actual voices. Sometimes I’ll go out of my way to schedule an in-person lunch/coffee/dinner with a colleague and consider it both a break and networking!

  4. Thanks for commenting, Mallie! I’m an ambivert, so working from home is both a blessing and a curse. Depends on the day 😉

    Your suggestions are great–lunch meetings with clients and Google Hangouts really help me feel more engaged, too.

  5. I work from home but also have to meet with businesses throughout my week. That helps with being engaged with people and breaks up my week. I have windshield time that can be boring but I make sure wherever I’m traveling that I maximize my day with appointments and cold calling. The days I’m in my home office, I have a room designated to work. That way I don’t get distracted from what has to be done at home, which is easy to do. Also, it is easy to not know when to quit work so I use an alarm. I close my office door and leave work, so to speak. If you don’t do that you will burn yourself out. It is very rewarding working from home for me. I can keep my own schedule. It takes discipline to do it though. I do take some snow days!

  6. I think you forgot weight gain as #4. At least that’s the case for me. Haha. My husband gets concerned because I don’t have a lot of interaction with people. I like the peace and quiet but at times I do get lonely and wonder if I’m missing out on all the networking opportunities I had when I was working the 9 to 5.

  7. Hi Gia!

    Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂 You are spot on with the weight gain! It’s so easy to sit at your desk all day and never get up to move. (I’m guilty of this more than I care to admit)

    Teresa–have you had many snow days this year? It’s been brutal!

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