When I tell people I work from home, I get one of two responses: “I wish I could do that,” or “I could never do that. I’d get way too distracted.”
I enjoy working from home, but just like a traditional work arrangement, it frustrates me sometimes. It’s not the key to a blissful work life, but it’s not necessarily a recipe for getting lost in a Youtube black hole all day, either.
I procrastinate and waste time less at home than I did during a typical 8 hour office work day. According to a 2013 Stanford University study, a worker’s efficiency can improve by 13% when she works from home. For the sake of transparency, I will admit that from 7:57-8:20 this morning, I was pinning things I want from West Elm.
For those considering working from home or just curious about what it’s like, here are 7 reasons it’s worked for me:
1. I’m an introvert. While my work involves a lot of interaction, my time in between phone calls and meetings is quiet and solitary. I loved socializing with my coworkers when I worked in an office, but I was less productive. Because I’m an introvert, those fun conversations drained my energy. It’s easier for me to build in quiet time at home than it would be in a traditional office.
In Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain discusses how open floor plans and open door policies limit the creativity and output of introverts who need quiet to produce their best work.
My dad also works from home, but he is an extrovert. Unlike me, he has much more energy on days when he has lunch appointments. A day spent entirely at home in front of his computer leaves him exhausted.
2. I have a dog. He loves being around people, and he’s great for stress relief and companionship. My work arrangement is good for me and it’s good for him.
3. Punctuality is not my strong suit. Working from home limits how often I’m expected to be somewhere at a certain time. I do not miss rushing to gather my stuff while I brush my teeth and put on my shoes, only to remember that I need to stop for gas. Sure, I could start getting ready sooner. I’m working on that when I do have places to be, but I’m glad it’s not every day. I can make deadlines like it’s my job, especially when it is my job, as long as my physical presence isn’t required.
4. I hate packing lunches. I used to frantically scramble to pack a lunch on my way out the door. It would be fun to go out to lunch with coworkers, but that gets expensive and unhealthy.
Mike’s office is a five minute walk away, so he usually comes home for lunch which allows us some extra time together. Most days, I heat up leftovers or cook an egg and toast. Both options are quick, inexpensive, easy and require little planning and no juggling of Tupperware.
5. I value the freedom I have, even if it requires more discipline. I like making my own schedule and being evaluated for the work I produce instead of the hours I spend. Freedom and flexibility are two of the main reasons people want to work from home, but those perks come with their own set of challenges. I’ve had to develop my ability to motivate and discipline myself, but it’s worth it to me for the freedom.
6. I meet with my colleagues in person weekly. While I am self motivated, face to face meetings give me the feed back and encouragement I need to keep going. They help me tweak what I’m doing to become more effective and acknowledge the work I’ve done. I always leave feeling energized for the week and with higher expectations of myself than I would have had sitting alone in my office.
7. I set boundaries between work and my personal life. Working from home makes working on weekends more tempting, and it’s easier to get sidetracked by household chores or personal phone calls during working hours.
It takes practice, but I can ignore piles of laundry during work time and I rarely feel the magnetic pull of work emails on the weekends. It would be more difficult if my work were more demanding. It’s easier for some people than others, but work boundaries are a learned discipline, like exercise, and anyone can learn.
My work from home arrangement plays to my strengths and helps me sidestep weaknesses, but it would surely be less ideal for others.
Do you work from home? Wish you did? Glad you don’t?
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