Working from home is the dream, right? (Or at least runner up to the not-having-to-work-because-you’re-rich dream.) No commute, no boss looking over your shoulder, no loud-chewing coworkers in earshot and everyone’s favorite part–you can roll out of bed and work in your pajamas! Or stay in bed and work from there if you want! And depending on your situation, working from home may give you flexible hours too. What’s not to love?
Well, like with anything else, there are negatives to working from home. Or let’s “re-frame” that, as my mother would say. There are things that you might find difficult or not like, or things that can sabotage your working-from-home productivity. I’ve been working from home since I opened my business in 2008. For a little while, it was part-time working from home, since I had full time jobs outside of AB Beauty. There was also the summer when I decided I didn’t need Internet at my house, since I had it at my studio a few blocks away, and that would force me to not be constantly working when I was at home. (I got around that one by going to my studio in the morning, stopping for a couple hours mid-afternoon to take care of personal stuff, then going back into my studio until 1:00am.)
Other than those instances, I’ve worked from home. I’ve learned a lot about what seems to work and what doesn’t, both from my own experience and from what other homers (coined it) have told me. How rude would it be for me to keep that to myself? You know I’m incapable of holding onto information that I think could be even the tiniest bit helpful to someone, so here we go.
Social Status. Even if you’re an introvert, you probably find that having a coworker who you’re friends with helps make your job better. Having someone you like who also understands the ins and outs of your job really does make things better. But unless your partner or roommate is a coworker and also works from home, you’re not going to get that socialization if your house is your office. And if you’re a solopreneur, there’s no chance of it at all. If you’re an extroverted person, working from home has the potential to drive you crazy. If that sounds like you, you might want to consider trying a co-working space or working from a coffee shop, even if just for a few days a week. If you’ve always been surrounded with coworkers and like that vibe, working from home with only your thoughts for company can be a big adjustment.
Wardrobe Change. Working from home in your pajamas/workout clothes/yoga pants and a Biggie tee (which you should have if you don’t already) can be awesome. Add in no need to do hair and/or makeup, and you’ve made things real easy. But, there’s something to be said for the sense of motivation that putting on work clothes can give you. It feels normal to plop down on the couch at 10:00am and watch HGTV when you’re in your pajamas, but if you put on work clothes and do that, things might feel off. If you know yourself to be someone who struggles with motivation or discipline, you might want to force yourself to put on work clothes every morning to get yourself into business mode. If you’re just starting out your work from home adventure, maybe try it both ways. If you are equally productive in sweats as you are in business casual, go for comfort. But if you can tell you slip into weekend mode if you’re in your pajamas, it might be time to change (literally). Both options are there for you, but make sure to choose wisely.
Office Space. It’s super important to dedicate some space in your home to work. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have an actual home office, but if you’re not, even the corner of a room can work. I used to work at a desk in my bedroom, then at my kitchen table, and now, lying down on my couch (which I wouldn’t recommend but I have a vestibular disorder than makes looking down at screens really difficult, so I have to lie down with a pillow on me and my laptop on that so I’m looking up). The one thing I’ve always tried to do though is make sure that whichever area my “office” is in is my only office. When I was able to work at a desk, I rarely did any work outside of that little corner. When I worked at my kitchen table, no work was done in my room or living room. And now with my couch office, not only have I never worked from any other part of my home, but I’ve never even moved to the other side of the couch! This dedicated work space area helps not only with focus, but it prevents your entire house or apartment from becoming your office, which is not good for work/life balance.
To Do List Battles. Even if you have a dedicated home office, it can be easy to get distracted by the household To Do list. You go the kitchen and refill your coffee cup and notice that sink seems to be draining slowly, so you should see if you can fix it or call the plumber. You take a bathroom break and remember how you’ve been meaning to clean out your medicine cabinet. You go to your room to grab a sweater and start thinking about donating all of those clothes you never wear. Those are all things that need to be addressed–but not while you’re working. Passive chores that allow you to take a 5 – 10 minute screen or phone call break–like running or emptying the dishwasher, doing laundry or throwing something in a Crockpot–are great. But organizing your closet, scouring your bathroom or baking a cake for the bake sale at your child’s school? I wouldn’t make stuff like that a habit if you want to be productive with your job.
Neighborly Love. If you live in a single family with no neighbors in sight, you luck out here. But you live in a busy neighborhood or a building with other units next to, above or below you, you will, inevitably, encounter some noise. Talking, yelling, laughing, footsteps, music, vacuuming, pictures being hung up and the dreaded construction and renovations noise pollution. If you’re the type who is bothered by that (I certainly am), you have to learn to ignore those sounds or block them out with music, white noise or noise canceling headphones. For a lot of people, noise distracts them from their work, but you really have to fight or figure out ways around distractions when you work from home. If you’ve come from an office where you’ve gotten used to the sound of phones ringing, copy machines copying and coworkers chattering, the different working-from-home sounds might throw you at first.
Keep ‘Em Separated. When you work from home, it’s easy to have no real end to your work day. I’m certainly guilty of this, as clients who have received 11:00pm emails from me can attest. But you have to draw the line somewhere when it comes to work/life separation. My advice is to try to end your workday at a certain predetermined time then put away work stuff, close business-related tabs on your laptop and stop answering calls or texts. If your home office or work area is not in the same space in your home that you would hang out in after work, that helps. But if it’s all in the same space, you might really have use your willpower to end your workday. I believe in you.
If you want to be productive when you work from home, it really all comes down to discipline. You have to learn to block out or work around the distractions, while also not letting your whole home become your 24/7 office. It’s a balancing act, but if you can figure out the right balance for you, you’ll probably never want to step foot in a traditional work space again.
Have a beautiful day 🙂