I’ve been working from home since November 2016. It’s been a bit of a struggle to get into a good routine with working from home. And even now, a year and a half in, I still don’t have it completely perfect. But I do know that for me, the pros far outweigh the cons and that I really love being able to work from home.
But is working from home for you? Answer yes to most of these questions, and the work from home life might be right up your alley!
Do you understand what working from home really is?
Working from home is not sleeping in, working in pajamas and watching Netflix all day long. Well, it’s at least not like that every day. Sure, some days are like that. But most days are not. Remember the “work” part of working from home. You actually have to put in the work in order to do the job and make any money. So sure, you could spend all day watching TV in bed. But that’s not working from home. That’s just a Sunday off.
Does your job let you work from home?
Well, this is a pretty obvious one. Can you actually work from home? Does your job allow you to work remotely? If not, maybe you can talk to your boss about working remotely or doing a few days a week from home. Or does a job you’re applying to support working from home? Many jobs these days are becoming remote and more flexible. In this modern age of technology, it’s becoming easier and easier for people to work from home. Even doctors do it!
Can you spend all day alone?
Unless you and the people you live with all work from home, you’ll likely be working from home by yourself. So that means spending all day long alone. You don’t have co-workers to say hi to, a meeting to go to or a lunch hour to hang out with people. Sure, you might have some calls or online meetings where you see and talk to people. But it’s really not the same as interacting with people in person.
If you do live by yourself, you might go the entire day, or multiple days, all alone if you’re also working from home. And even if you do live with someone else, you can’t rely on that person to be your sole social outlet. I know I used to really overwhelm Colin. He would come home, after interacting with patients at the hospital for eight hours. And I would’ve just spent eight hours all alone working. So I would be ready to talk and hang out and do stuff, but all poor Colin wanted to do was relax and decompress a little bit.
Can you motivate yourself?
This is a big one. Working from home means you are the sole source of motivation for your work. There’s no one watching you from their cubicle and forcing you to get your work done. If you do spend all day in your pajamas watching Netflix, no one is there to stop you. You have to force yourself to work and find motivation.
Do you have a separate work space?
While this isn’t a must for working from home, it is really helpful. I’ve found that I have become so much more productive with a dedicated work space. In our New West apartment, I would work from the kitchen table because my desk in the bedroom was just too small. While I liked the space of the kitchen table, it really wasn’t very conducive for working. I was constantly tempted to watch TV and by taking over the whole dining/living room, I was making it hard for Colin to enjoy the space.
If you can carve out a separate work space, like a home office, it’s much easier to get shit done. When you’re in your space, you enter work mode. It’s almost like going into the office. And it really helps to separate your work from your home.
Can you separate work life and home life?
Speaking of separating work and home, it’s not just about the physical separation. You also need to separate your work life from your home life. This is definitely one I still struggle with. It’s so easy when you’re working from home to throw in a load of laundry, go pick up something from the grocery store and get started on dinner. In fact, one of the perks of working from home is being able to do stuff around the house because you’re on your own schedule.
But it’s important to make sure you’re actually doing your work work and not just your housework. Don’t let yourself get distracted with home tasks if you’re supposed to be putting in work time. Just think, if you were in a 9-5 office job, you wouldn’t be able to do laundry or go grocery shopping. Don’t discredit the work you’re doing at home; it’s just as important as work you’d do in an office or anywhere else.
Can you find your own social outlets?
Working from home is a very solitary activity. And even if you are good at working alone and being by yourself, it’s still very important to have some social outlets. This is one I’m still working on myself. I can sometimes spend too many days alone, only getting out of the house to walk Ellie. But even for introverts like me, getting out and seeing people is necessary.
You can find other people who work from home and join a club or networking group. I do a freelancer lunch once a month with some other freelancers in Vancouver. You can join a club or activity to pursue some other hobbies. Colin and I like to go to a zumba class once or twice a week. And then there’s just meeting up with friends or working from a coffee shop or coworking space every once in a while. Something to get out there and interact with real people.
Do you like the idea of working from home?
So after all of that, does the idea of working from home still appeal to you? And is it more than just being able to wear pajamas all day? Because as awesome as that is, it’s not enough of a reason to work from home.
So why do I work from home? Primarily, because it’s the easiest way for me to do my current dream job of freelance writing. Freelance writing full time really lends itself to working from home. If I wasn’t, I’d have to pay for office space somewhere. I also do it because it allows me to be with Ellie and walk her when I’m home. The commute is amazing. If I still worked at UBC, it would be so painful to get there from Surrey. Working from home works for me because of my job, my introverted personality and my ability to self-motivate. It’s not for everyone, but it works for me.
So, what do you think? Is working from home for you?