In the last 6 months, I’ve grown a new appreciation for office politics, 9-5′s, dress codes, and bad managers – at least to the extent that none of them apply to me. I have to admit, there is a pinch of joy in boasting about the flexible and autonomous lifestyle that has come with the entrepreneurial path I’ve chosen to follow. But like everything in this world, working from home has its downsides.
Here’s a list of caveats that I’ve come to discover and that you should expect to encounter if you’ve chosen to lead the work-at-home life as well.
1. You’re always at home
This may seem like an obvious observation but trust me, it’ll hit you after your first week of working at home. Consider this: your buddies wake up in the morning, get dressed, take a drive, get to the office, have some lunch, get back on the road, and then return home. Meanwhile, you’ve been there the whole time. This may seem like a sweet deal at first, but you may find yourself growing a bit tired of the environment - you are, after all, there 24/7.
No matter how great of a work environment you’ve set up for yourself, a static environment can sometimes suck the life out of you. This pain point hits home the hardest at the end of the day when you’re simply dying to get out. The problem is, your buddies are all relieved to finally be back home and don’t have the energy to head out to the bar with you. Suddenly a drive out to the gas station is a major treat.
2. You’re always at work
The opposite and often eviler side of the coin. From the moment you wake up to the moment you hit the sack, you’re at work. When you literally live at work, it makes it nearly impossible to ever escape it. Add on to it the fact that you’re a workaholic anyway, then you’ll find yourself doing a lot of overtime.
I vaguely remember the comfort of leaving the office and returning home to my personal computer and simply browsing the internet liesurely or chatting the night away on IM. Now when I’m bored, I make websites. Or I organize my finances. Or I work on some other projects. The truth is, there is always an infinite amount of things to do, and without being able to physically detach yourself from them, you’ll just keep on working. You never quite leave the office, so you never quite know when to call it quits. Great for productivity, crappy for your spirit.
3. Is anybody there?
The answer is no. Well, your mother could be home. As could your budgy named Snowy. But they’re not the people you were looking for or the people you may find you miss the most after working at home for some time. Who you’re looking for are the guys by the watercooler, the colleagues you pass in the hallways, the people you see in the cafeteria, and even the receptionist at the front desk. And unless your mother follows Lost as religiously as you do (or even if she does), you tend to miss out a bit on the personal interaction and comaraderie that comes with an office job.
4. Self-control sold separately
My guitar is always within arm’s reach. I have a collection of How I Met Your Mother, Grey’s Anatomy, and Lost episodes ready to be enjoyed. TVtropolis has made daytime television worth watching again (hoorah for reruns of classic sitcoms).
These are but a few distractions that make working from home slightly difficult sometimes. It can often be like working at a toy store (let’s ignore my action figures and pretend this is just a metaphor) - when you’re surrounded by toys, you can’t help but play with them a little. Counter-productive? Yes. But with nobody breathing down your neck, it makes it morally easy to write it off.
5. “While you’re home, can you…”
This winter, Toronto has seen 3 big snow falls already. What’s become apparent from this is that working from home does not exempt me from shoveling the snow. It also doesn’t excuse me from doing laundry, cleaning, or occasional drives out to the grocery store.
While not being able to escape household responsibilities is more likely a result of living with your parents, it is certainly magnified when you work from home. This can have a toll on your work, even if it means just taking a moment to explain that you’ll do it after you’re done work. If your parents are like mine, you’ll have to explain it again in 5 minutes. Then again, you probably don’t live with your parents.
Don’t get me wrong, I love working at home!
From this post alone, working at home probably seems like a torturous, painful, and tiresome form of entrepreneurial hell. To be honest, it can be sometimes. But these feelings are far and few in between, and there are definitely easy remedies to cure some of these blues. I just wanted to give those considering the work-at-home lifestyle the heads up that it’s not all fun and games (or that sometimes it is, and that’s not good either).
My next post will focus on how to fend off these downers and make the most of your freedom from the corporate world. Stay tuned!
Read the follow-up: 13 ways to liven up your work-at-home routine