When I tell people I often work from home, I usually get one of two reactions.
There’s the head-nod-pretend-I-understand-but-don’t, when the person quickly agrees and moves on. I can see in their eyes the struggle to comprehend - does she have a cubicle in her living room?
The other response is similar but distinct. “Oh, that’s nice,” they’ll say, all the while clearly assuming my “work” consists of eating cold pizza and watching reruns of The Office from 8-5.
Luckily for me and for Marketing Essentials, neither of those things describes what my workday is like. You can read a lot of articles online about the pros and cons of remote work, but I thought I’d dive a little deeper and give an honest look at what working from home is really like - warts and all.
Three Real Perks of Working Remotely
Remote Working Perk #1: Work Easily Meshes With Real Life
I have a problem with the term “work-life balance”. It implies that work and life are two separate, mutually exclusive things. In reality, it can be a lot healthier to simply think of what you do at work as part of your life, just as cooking dinner or playing with your kids is also a part of your life.
When I first started at Marketing Essentials and could work from home, I felt like two puzzle pieces snapped into place. Work was no longer a mystical location to which I drove during the day and left in the evening. Instead, I was able to think of it more seamlessly as a part of my regular, everyday schedule.
I look forward to work each day - we all should - but it isn’t the only thing that defines me. When I work from home, I’m reminded that I have an entire, well-rounded life along with the job that I do. And that allows me to relax and keep a positive attitude about what I’m doing.
Remote Working Perk #2: It’s Easy to Move Throughout the Day
Sitting in one cramped position at a desk all day is the fastest way for me to get bored and cranky. And if I’m stuck with a view of a blank wall, it’s hard to be creative.
When I work remotely, I’m free to use my standing desk, sit at my kitchen table, move to a couch or even head to my back patio when the sun is out. To me, this is a much more natural way to work than forcing myself to sit down for eight or nine hours each day.
Moving throughout the workday is not only good for you, but it can also help keep you energized and motivated for the task at hand. Let’s face it - some of us just can’t sit still for that long. Despite what our elementary school teachers told us, sometimes it’s OK to fidget.
And if I want to move around a little - like go for a quick walk around the block to clear my head or do a couple of jumping jacks at lunch - hey, no one’s going to judge.
Remote Working Perk #3: It’s an Introvert’s Dream
At Marketing Essentials, we work in close-knit groups for the vast majority of the time, and I absolutely adore my team. But as an introvert, there are times I simply need to go somewhere quiet to sit by myself and get my work done.
For now, there are no children or pets in my house, so working from home means blessed silence. If you’re like me and need space and peace to be your most productive, remote work can be the answer.
The good news is that even though I’m by myself at home, the tools and processes we have in place mean I’m only ever a second away from talking to or having a video meeting with my teammates. A quick email, call, instant message or video chat, and we’re just as connected as we’d be in person.
Three Remote Working Drawbacks
Although I just scratched the surface of the perks of working remotely, there are potential drawbacks, too.
Remote Working Drawback #1: It Can Get Lonely
Yes, I know I just said I love working solo. But sometimes there can be too much of a good thing. At the end of the week, I might realize that I’ve just spent the majority of my time sitting by myself. Cabin fever is real and can set in faster than you think, folks.
It’s all about balance. Although I’m free to work up to four days a week from home, I need to manage my own schedule and decide if that’s really the best idea. Sometimes, a trip to the office is in order for some real-life human companionship.
Remote Working Drawback #2: It’s Easy to Start Bad Habits
In the office, you’re less likely to do things like stand in the middle of the room to eat your lunch. Or lose track of time as you watch a stray dog run around the neighborhood. Or, say, feel the need to check on a malfunctioning sump pump every 10 minutes.
Point is, just as it’s nice to have relative freedom when working from home, it’s also easy to fall into pointless bad habits and little distractions. There’s no one to tell you to get back to work, and there’s no positive peer pressure that comes from being around other people working.
Working from home isn’t for people with poor impulse control - or maybe it’s good practice if you are. To stay focused, you need to set boundaries, work on one thing at a time and recognize that it’s OK to take short breaks when needed, too.
Remote Working Drawback #3: It Can Be Uninspiring
When I’m working in-office among all my creative coworkers, it’s never boring and there’s always someone or something to inspire my next project.
But some days when I’m at home, trying to do something like write a blog article can feel like an insurmountable struggle. Or, I realize I’ve been keeping the same schedule for the past week and am getting a little sick of it.
At times like those, communication is my best friend. Reaching out to our team leader or a coworker for an idea, suggestion or piece of feedback can help me get the boost I need to keep working and stay motivated.
Is Remote Working For You?
While working from home is the perfect option for my work style and personality, I recognize that it’s not for everyone - and that’s OK! The important thing is to realize that everyone prefers to work a little differently. And when you know your own style, you can manage your time optimally to produce your best work.