For many of you, the benefits and challenges of working from home have become your reality within the last month. You could feel like you’ve gotten the hang of it; you’ve your routine of getting out of bed, heading right to the coffee pot, then getting to work is likely to little office space you’ve created. However, your boss, coworkers, friends, and family (or possibly even you) aren’t entirely convinced that working from home is a potential road to success.
The fact of working from home (like the truth of anything) isn’t quite as glamorous as it’s made out to be. Sure, you can work in your PJs, and lacking a boss peering over your shoulder every second could be lovely. But the possible lack of a commute and fridge full of snacks nearby doesn’t mean remote work is easy.
Work continues to be work, wherever you get it done from. And working from home poses its unique group of challenges that traditional office workers may not be prepared for. If you’re currently working from home—or have a friend or loved one who is—you might have noticed that the following notions about working from home are typical decidedly untrue:
It’s easier than working at a company
Certain facets of working from home are more straightforward. You aren’t confronted with the constant distractions of ringing phones, your cubicle neighbor’s annoying pen-tapping habit, or coworkers wandering into your workplace to chat. You can take a break if you start to feel drained without worrying about getting back in trouble. You may even run out for a quick walk around a nearby or stop to create another pot of coffee at any point.
But being by yourself requires more discipline and determination than being accountable to an ever-present boss. Sure, you can spend the afternoon browsing Facebook or catching up on laundry, but when you never keep yourself on task, you’ll pay for it later by needing to pull an all-nighter. And if you aren’t sticking to a disciplined work schedule, you can have some unhappy clients wondering why their projects aren’t getting done on time.
Sticking with a schedule when you’re alone in charge of enforcing this means you need to be excellent at resisting temptations and adhering to a schedule (even a self-imposed one).
It’s not necessarily “working.”
Many traditional workplaces measure productivity using the “butt in chair” method: If the boss sees you parked at your chair at 8:50 a.m. and still there at 5:10 p.m., they’ll think you should be working hard. This can be far from the truth.
Plenty of individuals will look like they’re being productive by surfing the internet, shuffling papers whenever the boss walks by and staying only a little longer than anyone else. But what matters is results, and when there isn’t that “butt in chair” accountability holding you hostage, you could get working a lot harder. When you have control over your hours, why would you want to waste your time?
Additionally, many individuals who gravitate towards working from home (freelancers, entrepreneurs, and the like) are naturally self-starters who take their jobs very seriously and challenge themselves to do their utmost work. This could translate to lots of late work nights and weekends because when somebody else isn’t turning the lights out at 5:00 p.m., there’s nothing to force you to avoid working.
You can certainly do anything you want, whenever you want
While it’s true, you’ll be able to get those coveted midday doctor’s appointments you weren’t “allowed” to take being an office worker, that doesn’t mean you can throw your to-do list to the wind and binge Netflix whenever you feel like it.
If you work in any customer or client-facing position, odds are you will end up doing a lot of work during the standard nine to five window, mainly because that’s when the folks you will need to communicate with will be most available. Mornings and early afternoons may also be peak productivity times for lots of people; when you can pull a night owl shift and finish up a task at 2:00 a.m., lots of people won’t do their utmost work then. And, if you live with others, it can be easier to truly get your work done while they’re also online for his or her remote jobs or classes.
Suppose you’re a smart scheduler and able to keep yourself on task. In that case, you could have away with the casual free period to play hooky. Still, for probably the most part, your company depends on your dedication, so too many absences can return to haunt you merely like they would in the corporate world.
It gives you an improved work-life balance
When I worked a traditional nine to five around, I was not too fond of it. I possibly could at the least take comfort in the fact I maybe could turn off my “work brain” the instant 5:00 p.m. hit. My evenings and weekends were a very different world by which might work played no part. Now that I work for myself, however, I find myself working more hours than ever.
Part of this includes the hustling you have to do when starting and growing your business, and the element of it originates from the fact it’s hard to balance work and life when there’s no physical distinction involving the two. I don’t leave home each morning and commute to a company; I step from my bedroom to my den. If I have a task that needs tinkering on, I could all too easily pick away at it after dinner; once my husband would go to bed or on the weekends.
Working from home isn’t an option for me
While numerous vocations require the physical being in a space to get the work done, many people are surprised to see how many jobs could be performed from home. With the mandatory shelter in place orders due to the Covid-19 pandemic, employees and employers alike are taking their work for their own homes and finding, so it works.
As you might have learned by now, working from home is not just a cakewalk. If you’re the kind of worker who requires a little handholding to be sure you stay on task, then working remotely has likely been a difficult transition for you. However, so long as you see the challenges mentioned above to go up to you, you are most likely to thrive in this new age of remote work.