Working at home isn’t all fun and games and wearing no pants! (But, to be fair, it is a lot of that.)
- Distraction is everywhere
You can rest assured that during the walk to your desk to get a serious amount of work done, you will spot no fewer than a dozen small household chores that you’ve been neglecting, and will begin doing them, rationalizing that they’ll “only take a minute”. The problem is, those minutes add up and suddenly you’ve spent the entire morning doing laundry and taking out the trash (and, and, and…) I have no advice here. It just happens. And the worst part is, if you don’t tend to these things, they weigh on your mind while you’re trying to work.
- People think you have no schedule
If someone needs to be picked up from the airport, you’re who they call. If they need help moving a couch, again, it’s you. If they have the day off and feel like having a long lunch and seeing a movie, they don’t understand why you won’t go with them. No matter how hard you try, there will always be some people who don’t understand that “no office to go to” doesn’t at all equal “no work to do”.
- Some people think you have no job at all
Mostly these people will be old and somewhat skeptical of the idea that you can stay home all day and still be gainfully employed. Unfortunately, your explanations will largely fall on deaf ears (sometimes literally, depending on how old the ears are.) The bright side: over time, you’ll notice less and less the little passive aggressive implications that you’re a deadbeat at family functions.
- Having boundaries can be really hard
Creating a healthy work/life balance is tricky for anyone, no matter what your job nor work environment. But when your office is in the same space as your non-work life, it can be terribly easy for the line between the two to become blurred. Sometimes, this isn’t an awful thing; if sometimes said over dinner with your family triggers a great work-related idea, you can run to your office, jot down some notes, and resume real life without having sacrificed the moment of professional inspiration. On the other hand, promising to work for “10 more minutes” often turns into “several more hours and then, oops, your family is asleep and it’s 1AM.”
- Protecting your space can be even harder
Convincing roommates, significant others, and kids that your office space isn’t the place to hang out and talk your ear off (or eat snacks, or bring in toys, or check their email, or…) can be an ongoing challenge.
- There is no “lunch hour”
What kind of ridiculous world is it when people are told when to eat and how much time to take to do so? Workers-at-home simply grab food when they’re hungry and resume work when they’re done. Pretty easy concept, but somewhat revolutionary compared to the forced structure of more conventional work environments.
- You decide your work flow
Speaking of forced structure, working at home means you have very little. Sure, you might have certain limits on your day like meetings and conference calls that account for other people’s schedules, or needing to drop off your kids at school, but for the most part, you have the luxury of getting work done per your natural ebbs and flows in productivity. If you’re one of those people who is more focused and energetic first thing in the morning, you can work then. If your brain doesn’t really wake up until noon, you can save your most challenging tasks to do then.