Working from home – the good, the bad and the ugly

I have now been working from home exclusively for the last 3 months. For somebody who only had the luxury of working from home occasionally and only with a really good reason before that, this is a major shift in how I do work and life. The chances are, I will continue to work from home for the foreseeable future both because the company I work for encourages me to and because I WANT TO.

However, there are some things worth mentioning while I work from home ant this article will tell you all the main things to consider if you too are wanting or needing to switch gears.

The good

My commute is 3 seconds long. And while that’s lovely, without a routine which keeps me moving I’d wither and die. Having a morning routine that keeps me moving however is a small price to pay for a massive time saving, financial gain and honestly, removal of stress factor. As a Londoner I used to be blessed with what would be considered a good commute – under an hour, straightforward transport connection, no driving and usually I’d get a seat on the train. But even a good commute can be exhausting, take my word for it.

The food is better. I have access to a full kitchen at lunch which means that I can cook if I want to. Whether I fancy zoodles that are not soggy, a fresh potato mash or just a sandwich that is not sweaty from being sat at a wrong temperature for 6 hours…I can have that and without the cost of going out to buy it at a cafe too.

The family time is better. If I miss my boyfriend, I walk over the landing and go give him a kiss and a hug. I can work with my cats at my feet. If the boyfriend wants to have a quick word, he walks over the landing. We don’t have to schedule a call time in between meetings to speak – we can prioritise each other without compromising on paid work we both do. And at the end of the day, we can have conversations about what we really want to talk about without feeling like an update from the day is necessary first. If he needs to go back to the office this will of course diminish, but at least I’ll still have our cats at my feet and that’s pretty awesome.

My house is taken care of. While I don’t steal work time to do chores, because I am always here it’s just easier to keep the place clean and running well. There is dust? Well, now that I don’t spend 45 minutes on a train every morning and every evening, I can take some of that time and get rid of the dust. Or put up a shelf, scrub the bathroom or whatever. Since I’m here so much, it’s honestly just cleaner.

The bad

Why does my neck, shoulders and back hurt? Because I am failing at keeping my posture up – lack of ergo chair and properly adjusted desk is a plague right now for so many homeworkers.

Why are my eyes constantly tired? Because I am constantly in front of the screen unless I force myself to step away from it. Whether it’s my work laptop, my personal one, my mobile or the kindle, there is always a screen to look at now.

Why do I find myself thinking that I should stay quiet if the boyfriend is on a call in the other room? Coming from a VERY loud office this was never a problem before. But now that it’s quieter, I find myself less comfortable being my naturally noisy self.

Why does every nick in the wall of this house suddenly bother me? Oh yes, because I live here, I am here a lot and it’s my responsibility to deal with every nick or live with it. The issue of seeing flaws in my surroundings has been steadily escalating and while commuting and going into the office has removed a lot of stress, having to look at imperfections in my immediate surroundings have filled some of that gap.

Why do people now only come with a head and shoulders in a monitor screen and not as whole human beings? I think I am now getting to a point where the lack of face to face interaction is becoming something I am truly starting to miss. While I am fortunate to see friends every once in a while, the lack of interactions with a crowd of mere acquaintances and complete strangers is just a sore reminder of the awful reason I first moved to working form home.

The ugly

Some people need telling where the boundaries are. Mainly work people, but sometimes also neighbours. Why? Work wise, in the industry I work with there is a myths that if you don’t commute then you should be spending that time working. I tend to disagree – mainly because I work so much better when I am not knackered or feeling like somebody is trying to own my time. And while I disagree with this myth openly, I also draw lines by setting an out of office message on my inbox, turning my work phone and laptop off and declining out of hours meetings unless I actually want to attend them. And if somebody ever asks me to ‘overnight’ a piece of work…even in this climate they are going to get a NO.

As for neighbours the situation is a little different. While I am friendly, I keep myself to myself and try not to disrupt the whole building with my music choices. Not everyone follows this school of thought though, so I now have noise-cancelling headphones and apparently an attitude. If you knock on my door for no good reason, you’ll likely end up on the receiving end of it.

And lastly… seeing people in their at-home attire gets old really quickly, especially where it comes to stretched out grey sweats and stained t-shirts. I am lucky to live in a house where we both tend to avoid ugly clothes, but I am now at a point of banning my colleagues (and friends) from using video in our daily conversations if they are wearing something they would not want to open their door in. It might sound judgemental and bizarre, but friend, have some self-respect and take care of your looks even at home.

If you recently moved to working from home, what are the biggest benefits and disadvantages you spotted?

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