Think You’re Ready to Work Remotely? Read this First.
Working from home—No commute. Wear your pjs all day. Never have to buy lunch. All of these things are awesome perks but, like anything else, it may come with some unexpected trade offs.
Here is what I learned and what I had to give up to successfully live the work from home life.
No commute could mean freer weekends.
You will save loads of time by cutting out your commute. That time is now free for other activities—like cleaning your house, working out or doing groceries. Do your housework and errands before or after your working hours—or take a break in the middle of the day—ta da! No more weekend days spent cleaning (unless you own your house, then I’m sure you’ll still find plenty of home projects to fill your weekends!).
No commute also means less time spent listening to morning radio, audiobooks and podcasts.
If you are a self-help junkie like me than this one might hurt a little. Cutting out the commute means it will be harder to find time to listen to your beloved podcasts and audiobooks. One way to replace this is by dedicating a half hour each morning to reading or listening before you begin work—you might find that it is the perfect way to begin a successful day.
Say hello to more money (maybe).
You’ll definitely save on commuting expenses and you won’t have nearly as much impulse spending on coffee or lunch. However, you’ll have some up-front costs to get your office set up appropriately—and if you continue reading you’ll see that I recommend occasionally working outside your home and making a point to meet up with friends in the evening—both of which will likely require you to spend some money.
Don’t forget that your grocery bill will go up too. Make sure you stock up on easy-to-grab, healthy snacks or you might find yourself reaching for those chips in your pantry…
Say goodbye to professional clothes… or to any new clothes for that matter.
You won’t need to buy new professional clothes for obvious reasons and, since you won’t be driving to work each day, you may find that it’s hard to actually get to a clothing store! Some may think they’ll use their freer weekends to shop—which may be true—but I’ve actually found that since I’m not out doing errands on the weekends as much, I don’t find time to clothing shop.
You’ll get a lot more work done.
Some people fear that they won’t be as motivated at home, but I find that I have hours of uninterrupted work time. No one is stopping by your desk to chat and it seems that when people don’t have the ability to pop over and ask a question in person (instead they have to pick up the phone or send an email), I find that the person often ends up figuring out their question for themselves. With that said, you will also need to start finding answers to your own questions or get comfortable calling people.
Work relationships will be much harder to maintain.
Since you can no longer walk over to your friend’s desk to say hello, you will have to make a point to see them in the evenings or on weekends. For me, this is the most difficult part of working from home. Only the strong work friendships will survive. Both parties in the friendship will have to make a conscious effort and you’ll find that “work friends” basically don’t exist anymore—either they become a real friend or just a colleague.
Now that you’ve heard some of the benefits and tradeoffs—if you still want to give working from a home a whirl than you’ll need to clarify a few things.
Where will you work?
Think working from home means you can work at your kitchen table, couch, or (God forbid) your bed… think again. You are going to need a real workspace with an ergonomically correct setup. I’m not saying you need an ergonomic consultant to come in and assess your work area, but you do need to be cognizant about your chair height and desk height.
You also need to have a space where you can be uninterrupted and have extended periods of quiet. Natural light will help too but if you don’t have that option then get a good lamp.
I can’t stress this enough—being thoughtful about your office will be very important to your success.
What will you wear while working?
I personally love working in comfy clothes but for others that may not work. Figure out if you work better in yoga pants or work pants and if it means you have to look professional to feel professional then do it.
If you do decide that yoga pants are your jam then just be mindful of when you might have a video conference scheduled…
When will you work?
Working from your home may allow you the freedom to work when you want to – if your employer allows a flexible schedule or if you own your own business. This type of flexibility can be amazing or disastrous, depending on your work ethic. Having designated working hours and designated personal hours will be critical to your success—and make sure those who reside in your household are aware (and respectful) of your schedule.
How will you maintain a social life?
Have a life. Get drinks with friends. Get out of the house. Work from a café. Go for a run on a busy running path. Simply being around other people will help you feel less isolated. Make plans with friends ahead of time and stick to them.
Finally, will you allow yourself to be successful?
You must decide that you are going to love working from home and will do everything possible to be successful. Working from home is not for everyone but it can be for you if you want it to be. I truly love working from home, even with the tradeoffs—and you can too.