By Christopher Woods
Last year Rihanna and Fifth Harmony had smash hits called Work. They had everybody dancing and repeating “work” all over the place. This piece is not about that, but I might be listening to them as I write this.
Since February I have had the privilege of working from home full time. For me it has been a very positive experience. My company pays for all my work supplies, just like they would if I were working in an office. My time is flexible. I can start working as early as I want and end as late as I want and rearrange my schedule around doctors’ appointments or other miscellaneous things that come up without having to use vacation time. I can work from anywhere there is WiFi, including planes, which makes traveling much easier and cheaper. As long as I am doing a task that doesn’t require too much reading or concentration I can binge watch my favorite shows, movies, or just listen to Janet Jackson at louder volumes than my neighbors would like. I save money because I do not have a commute, and I’m less tempted to go out and get food for lunch because I’ve started buying more food than usual. Perhaps the best thing about working from home is that I get to have short dance breaks with Solomon. He sits in front of my desk watching me and stares at me in between tossing his toys about.
There are a few challenges to working remotely that are unique to this experience. It can get lonely. I miss out on the comradery with my team and the occasional lunches the company has for us. I don’t have the benefit of going to a co-worker’s desk and ask them for help about an issue. We have an internal messaging system, and I can share my screen, but sometimes a personal communication is better. I used to read during my commute to work on the metro up to about 50 pages a day. I love to read and was flying through a lot of books. Now I have yet to make time for reading since I just sit down at the computer and start working.
On days when I’m really busy working on things I can neglect taking breaks and eating. If I’m really focused I can work through the entire day and barely use the bathroom. This is not good. When was in the office I would at least have to leave at some point during the day which forced me to stop. There have been times now where I would tell myself to stop at 5:00pm which turns into 5:30, which turns into 6:00, and so on. I know I need to work on giving myself boundaries. Another challenge, though rather silly, is that I wash a lot of dishes now. I cook for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and eat a lot of snacks during the day. That creates more waste than I’m used to dealing with on a daily basis. This isn’t a big deal, but I did notice it.
Another challenge is bathing. (I can hear your chuckles.) I always brush my teeth and freshen up, do pushups, and walk the dog in the morning. On most days I go to the gym after work and just shower there. As we all know sometimes things happen, and I don’t make it to the gym but want to go out instead. I have to remember that I haven’t taken a shower and might be funky… It happens.
For people who are interested in working remotely, there are plenty of benefits because there is a great deal of independence. You don’t have a manager hovering over you to make sure you’re working, but there is a misconception that working remotely means that you aren’t working. This is definitely false. I have found that I work harder and longer being remote than I did when I was in the office. I am not sure why this is, but it could be because I’m more comfortable and in a more relaxed state of mind, which makes me more productive. While my boss doesn’t hover, I am definitely expected to get my work done, follow all deadlines, and be proactive to take the initiative to identify challenges. If you want to work remotely because you think it will be easy to just get paid to watch Netflix and not do anything, you will be disappointed and subsequently unemployed.
As Fifth Harmony sang “You ain’t gotta go to work, but you gotta put in work.”
Photo Credit: Lee Chapman