We are living in an era where working remotely has become not only the norm for some companies, but the preferred method by many employees. Tales of increased productivity and happier, healthier people abound. Interviewees may even ask about the company’s remote working policy in the interview, making that a determinant in their job search. Many employees negotiate to work at home once or twice a week, and I’ve heard people say those are their best and most productive days of their work week.
Then there are the small business owners, freelancers, and entrepreneurs who work solely from home and do not have another office to go into. That’s the category I fall into and let me tell you, it’s much different than working from home a couple of times a week.
There are many tips and hacks out there for working from home and they range from advising you to have a routine every day, to ensuring you get dressed and out of your pjs (both of which I do recommend). But I thought I would highlight some of the more obscure revelations about working from your house; things perhaps you haven’t thought of previously.
1. You Discover if You Truly Feel Comfortable in Your Home
Being in your home office, at your desk working, makes you feel differently about your house than when you hang out in the living room on a Saturday, cook a meal in the kitchen, or have friends over. When you are alone for long stretches of time in your home, working away in silence, you really start to absorb your surroundings. You will be submerged in your house’s vibe. The sights, the sounds, the smells, even the temperature.
When you first start out you may find yourself taking a break and leaning back in your chair to think, when your eyes rest on something in your office or another room that suddenly feels wrong or out of place. You seem to see it in a new perspective because you are trying to work. I can’t tell you how often in the beginning I was rearranging the things on my desk, seeking not only an aesthetically pleasing environment, but an efficient working space.
You may look at a photo or painting on the wall and decide it no longer fits in your new world and you take it down straight away. You may hear the ice dropping loudly within the refrigerator’s ice maker all throughout the day, and you never noticed it before. The dog door, which is right around the corner from your desk, lets in cold winter air that seems to snake around your ankles as you work, prompting you to turn on a space heater (totally me).
On the positive side, you will hopefully start to really appreciate your home. You suddenly are very aware of all of the houseplants you have and you think about the air they are helping to filter. Or you might be grateful that years ago you hung two layers of curtains, because now you need to adjust them throughout the day for the sun coming into your office.
Working from home will help you see your abode in a new light. This may mean you want to change some things, or it may just mean you appreciate what you have more.
2. You Become More Connected to Nature
Okay, maybe this one is more just my personality, but since working at home I feel more in tune with the nature outside my door. I’ve always fed the birds and squirrels, but now I get to watch them whenever I want and I discover they have their own routines for the day, just as we do.
It’s also very easy to just step out your door, and go for a quick walk, anytime you like. And depending on where you live, that may be a suburban neighborhood walk, a walk in a local park, or a secluded hike in a forest. When you are not spending time commuting in the morning and evening you have the gift of time, and you find that getting outdoors during the day is more doable than it was when you were in an office.
Nature is extremely beneficial to our mood, productivity, creativity, and our health. Any way that you can bring it more into your work from home life is helpful. This could even take the form of more plants in your office, eye-catching stones on display, or positioning your desk so it looks out a window.
3. You Seriously Bond with Your Pet
Similar to the above, working from home really connects you to any other living thing in your home. If you have a pet, you will find yourself even closer to them than you were before. You get used to being around them so much that you will likely start to talk to them more than usual (side note: talking to yourself increases exponentially when you work from home so why not talk to your pet to feel less crazy).
Your pet will adapt to your routine and, like the wild animals outside, you will start to see more of your pet’s daily behaviors. In the case of my elderly dog–sleeping in many different locations throughout the day. It’s nice to spend more time with them and you feel less guilty because hopefully you are walking them more, they are not alone, etc.
The only downside, if it’s even a downside, is you may really get into posting about your pet on social media and refer to them as your coworker . . . #guilty.
4. You Eat Better
When the kitchen is mere steps from your office, it’s just natural that you have more time and resources to put together a full and healthy meal. Of course, you must be stocking said kitchen regularly, but let’s assume you are. When you don’t have to drive anywhere to get lunch, and you aren’t rushed to eat, you are more likely to actually cook, or at least put together a really decent meal because you have everything at your fingertips.
This is not to say that you won’t miss eating out at restaurants with your old coworkers though!
5. But, . . . You Might Gain Weight
Sigh. Yes, this could be a thing. I blame leggings. Wicked, wicked leggings. So comfy! So easy! So acceptable when you are only seen from waist up on video calls! But, . . . they don’t tell the truth like slacks or jeans do. And if you are sitting more than ever (no more walking across large office buildings multiple times a day, using stairs, going out to lunch, etc.) it’s a recipe for some poundage. Especially if you aren’t taking advantage of stepping out your front door for a walk every day.
6. You Actually Miss Meetings
Ah, the American office meeting. Bemoaned by employees everywhere. You have the person who is chronically late, yet you really need them for the topic so you have to wait on them. You have the person who called in from their car and won’t mute their end so you hear a constant hum in the background, turn signals, and car horns. And then there’s the length of some meetings–sucking the life out of employees as issues are rehashed but not actually solved.
However, leave an office setting for good and . . . you miss those meetings. You miss seeing people from other departments with whom you rarely interact. You miss the camaraderie between coworkers. The inside jokes, or the funny drawings or quotes written on the whiteboard for the next meeting group to see. You miss those first five minutes of the meeting, when someone shares something funny about their weekend, or their commute, and everyone has a good laugh. You miss the jokes about technology failing when you need it most and having to resort to flipping your laptop around so everyone can see your screen.
So, office dwellers, the next time you receive a meeting invite, instead of groaning about it, remember there is a home office dweller somewhere who would happily join that meeting.
Well, there you have it–a few things I have noticed while working from home for the last year and a half. I would love to hear from you what things you have discovered about working at home, whether you are there all the time, or just every once in a while. Now, I have to go feed my coworker; she’s on a schedule after all.