Since moving back to Michigan at the beginning of June, I’ve been working from home 5 days a week. I thought I was prepared for the change—after all, I’d been working from home 2 days per week for almost 2 years, and for a few months last winter I worked from home 4-5 days per week while our office was under construction.
But there can be quite a big difference between “having a space in the office but you work from home regularly” and “you work from home every day and rarely see your coworkers outside of video conferencing.”
In today’s day and age, working from home is becoming more and more normal. And while more people are talking about it, there are definitely some things that no one tells you about working from home.
It Can Be Really Lonely
When you’re used to seeing your coworkers regularly and socializing in the office, working from home can be quite the adjustment. At first it’s great! You don’t have anyone distracting you, so you can sit down and crank out your work.
And that productivity continues for the first week or two. Maybe if you’re lucky, you feel like that for a month! And then… you realize you never leave the house. And you never actually see anyone. And you start to get really lonely.
This is exaggerated if you, like me, start working from home around the same time that you’re moving to a new city. When you move to a new city and work in an office, you have people to talk to who will give you recommendations of places to check out. You might even meet some work besties who will meet up with you outside of the office. But when you work remotely, those built-in social scenarios just don’t happen.
It’s Really Easy to Adopt Unhealthy Habits
Because you don’t see anyone, working from home provides a really good opportunity to let your positive habits fall to the back burner.
Who cares if you smell? No one is around to notice. Showering and brushing your teeth feel like monumental tasks with no real benefit (other than, you know, general hygiene and fending off cavities).
Plus, you’re likely sitting all day and not moving around. When you’re in an office, you have to stand up and move to another room when you have a meeting. At home, you just keep sitting in your chair and call someone.
This is especially true if you have a blog or side hustle, because as soon as you’re done with work… you keep sitting at your computer. You don’t have to get up and walk to your car or walk to the subway to get home.
Plus, when you never have to leave your house, the very thought of doing so becomes a burden. It can get really hard to convince yourself to leave for other reasons, like being social or exercising.
It’s More Difficult to Find a Work / Life Balance
When work and life happen in the same place, the division between the two gets a little blurrier. You’re always a few steps away from your computer, so you’re always able to do “just a few minutes of work.” Which turns into… way more than a few minutes of work.
When you work in an office, there’s a clear wind-down time between work and life. Whether you commute by walking, a car, or public transit, there’s a gap between the two when you can mentally decompress and shift from work mode to life mode. Without a commute, that transition doesn’t really happen.
You Have to Keep the House at Least a Little Clean
I do a lot of video meetings for work. It was part of the deal when I started working remotely—in order to keep the connection I have with my coworkers, I need to still have some face time with them. Any time I schedule a meeting, it’s done via video conference.
Because of this, I have to keep my house at least a little clean. Anything that can be seen behind me needs to be tidy. I can’t throw dirty clothes on the couch in my office, and I can’t have papers strewn all over the floor.
This is both a nuisance and a blessing, because I know I always have at least one room in my house that’s mostly clean!
You Have a Bunch More Time in the Day
Now that we’ve talked about the negatives, let’s get to the fun part—the positives! Because really, being able to work from home is a blessing, not just because I was able to keep my job, but because…. I get to work from home!
The biggest change I’ve seen in my day-to-day life? I have a bunch more time in the day. I no longer have to commute to the office. My “commute” is walking across the hall from my bedroom into the office.
This change is much more apparent if you live in a big city or have an especially long commute. It used to take me about 30 minutes to get to work in the morning, and anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half to get home in the evening. That means I have at least an hour and 15 minutes back in my day that I didn’t have when I worked in the office.
This is your opportunity to offset some of those unhealthy habits you’ve adopted since beginning to work from home. Use this newfound time to create positive habits, like reading, working on your side hustle, exercising, or taking your dog for a walk.
You Spend Less Money
And finally, you spend less money when you work from home! You obviously spend less money on gas because you’re no longer driving to the office. But there are so many other little ways you’re able to save money, too.
For example, there’s less temptation to go out for lunch or make a coffee run with your coworkers. Because your kitchen is down the hall or downstairs, you have more opportunity to have a solid, home-cooked meal for lunch, so you’re eating from home more often.
Plus, you don’t need to spend as much money on professional clothes. I still get dressed every day for work, but I’m rarely wearing my nice pencil skirts or button-up shirts. Most often, you’ll find me in a pair of jeans and a v-neck t-shirt or a nice sweater.
Because I’m wearing my professional clothes less often, they’re getting less wear and tear, so they last way longer and I don’t need to replace them nearly as often. Plus, I’m not trying to keep up with the latest office fashion trends, so I’m not spending a bunch of money on clothes I can only wear to the office.
In general, working from home is an absolute blessing. I get to start every morning at my own pace, and I have a lot more control over my day. There are definitely some downsides that people don’t consider when beginning to work from home, but with some forethought and intention, you’re bound to find success.