05 Aug 10 Things No One Told Me About Working From Home
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
At some point, you’ve probably fantasized about quitting your 9-to-5 and making your own way in the world. After 8 years of working in a traditional job, I was more than ready to make the switch to work-from-home entrepreneur. My business partner, Emma, had worked this way for years and raved about the benefits of working from home. If you’re curious about the “WFH” lifestyle, a dedicated reddit thread, countless blog posts, and fellow WFHers will have sage advice for you on the topic. But, no matter how well-intentioned these people are, their experiences might not hold true for you. In this post, I’m sharing a few of the things that surprised me most when I first started working from home.
1. You won’t be less busy – you’ll just spend your time better.
When I first started working from home, I was excited about having so much more free time. Without a commute (more on that later) and without random people dropping by my desk, I thought I’d have an extra hour or two each day. For the first few weeks, I behaved accordingly. I didn’t pay attention to the clock; I simply did whatever felt right in the moment. It was amazing – but I quickly realized that I had more than enough work to fill a 40-hour week. Starting a business means there’s always something to work on. While I’m not any less busy than I was before, I’m busy with better things. Instead of spending time sitting in meetings or playing office politics, I’m spending time growing our business, serving clients, learning new skills, and taking care of myself and my home.
2. You CAN wear pajamas all day – but you might actually want to get dressed up for work.
You know the joke about the “work from home” employee who doesn’t put on pants for video chats? Don’t be that person. There’s a middle ground when it comes to your work from home wardrobe. I’ll be honest – on meeting-free days, I’ll shamelessly wear pajamas all day. After nearly a decade of getting dressed and made up for work, it feels liberating – and I’m SO comfortable! Wearing leggings and a tank top must boost productivity due to extreme comfort, right? But, I also love when I have client meetings and get to break out my work clothes. There are some days when I actually want to put them on, even if I don’t have a meeting! There’s nothing like 3 straight days of sweatpants to make you long for the structure of a good skirt and blouse.
3. You might still have a “commute.”
Blissfully, most of the time, I’m spared from the morning rush and evening slog through Atlanta’s traffic. I love spending what used to be my “commute time” walking my dog, Lily, instead. (Pro tip: going for a walk is a great way to create a barrier between “home time” and “work time.”) But, there are still plenty of days when I’m running all over town to meet with clients, attend a networking event, or participate in a training session. If you want to be involved in the community or meet with clients, you’re still going to be spending some time commuting.
4. Working after 5 PM can be awesome.
I dread going to Costco on weekends when you have to practically elbow your way through hordes of suburbanite families. So, I shop there on weekday mornings when it’s practically empty. On those days, I work later at night or carry some work into the weekend. I’m happy to do it, because I’m saving time and frustration while getting my work and errands done. I don’t recommend always working late or on weekends, because burnout can be a very real thing! But, if doing it now and then lets me enjoy a weekday lunch with a friend or hit the gym while it’s not crowded, I’m all for it. Sometimes it’s more stressful to try to cram your work schedule into a 9-to-5 day.
5. You might take better care of your home and yourself.
When I take a short break from a project, I tend to tidy up my home without even thinking about it. Instead of spending a few minutes in the breakroom chatting with coworkers, I might unload the dishwasher or start some laundry. Having access to a full kitchen makes it easy to prepare a quick home-cooked meal for lunch. It really doesn’t take that long, and I can even chop veggies on a brainstorming call with my business partner. As a result, my home is cleaner and I’m going through a lot fewer frozen dinners and packaged foods. Plus, I’m not tempted by anyone bringing donuts into the office!
6. It’s not really that lonely.
Whenever the topic of working from home comes up, someone always says something like, “Make sure you get out of the house and stay connected with the outside world.” But, I’ve found that if you have a few good friends, if you live with someone, and if you’re in a metropolitan area, working from home isn’t lonely at all. I see my husband every morning and night, and I get together with friends a few times each week. I also chat daily with my business partner, clients, and subcontractors. I’m sure some work from home jobs are lonely, just as some people thrive on the energy of working in an office. But, for an “extroverted introvert” like me, working from home offers the solitude I crave to get work done with plenty of opportunity for human interaction.
7. Drinking while working isn’t as appealing as it sounds.
You might be surprised to learn I’ve never had a sip of alcohol while working from home. It’s not an issue of morality. Plenty of companies host Friday afternoon happy hours, and I’m sure my work wouldn’t suffer if I were to casually sip a beer as I sort through emails. But, most of the time, it just doesn’t really occur to me. Maybe I’m missing out on something – but I’ve found I prefer a cup of tea and a lit candle over a Mad Men-style working cocktail.
8. You can give yourself some of the perks of an office.
What would you miss most about working in an office? Which perks do you wish your office had? When you work from home, you have the freedom to create your own perks. I’d always loved the idea of an office fridge stocked full of snacks and drinks, so now I have a cute retro fridge in my home office that’s stocked full of La Croix, Coke Zero, Starbucks Doubleshots, San Pellegrino, and more. It’s truly a thing of beauty.
9. Your cohabitors can become your biggest champions or your downfall.
When you work from home, your cohabitors will inevitably have an effect on your work life. In my case, I live with my husband Justin and my dog Lily. Lily has been thrilled that I’m home all day to give her treats and belly rubs, and Justin has been an invaluable source of support. He also works from home occasionally, and we try to be conscientious of each other. We take business calls in the office, we respect each other’s need for uninterrupted working time, and we keep our workspaces tidy. If you’re considering working from home and you live with others, it’s worth talking with them to make sure you’re prepared to support each other.
10. Everyone’s “work from home” life looks different.
What I’ve learned from speaking with other entrepreneurs, telecommuters, and remote workers is that we all do it differently. Some people need the structure and routine of a remote working community, while others consider it an unnecessary expense. Many folks have told me they need a home office to keep their “work life” separate from their “home life,” while others are happy to camp out in their living room with a laptop. Some like having The Office streaming quietly in the background while they do data entry (ahem, me), while others prefer silence or music. At the end of the day, if you’re happy and you’re getting your work done, you’re doing exactly what you need to do.