I’ve been working from home for almost two years. It’s been both wonderful and horrible. While I do enjoy the flexibility, there are a few things I wasn’t quite prepared for. Check out this article for a list of surprising things that happen when you work remotely.
“You’re so lucky!” That’s what most of my friends said when I told them my company decided to allow me to work from home on a full-time basis. I was excited as well. Working remotely is great. You enjoy more flexibility. You’re not required to look too presentable. There are fewer distractions. There’s no more commute. Your productivity will skyrocket. Or, you know, at least that’s what you tell yourself before embarking on this bumpy journey.
The perks of working remotely are obvious to anyone; the downsides, not so much. The truth, however, is that remote work isn’t for everyone. Some people simply crave regular face-to-face cooperation and need to perform in an office environment in order to be productive. When you tell them to stay home, they’re confused and miserable. I’ve met some of those people, so I understand.
For me though, it seemed like the perfect work setting. I was still regularly interacting with my colleagues, but I wasn’t required to leave the house anymore. It took me some time to realize that while working from home is wonderful, the experience can become horrible in a heartbeat. For instance, here are five unexpected things that happen when you work remotely.
1. You Tend to Work Longer Hours
My first belief was that I will be able to achieve a better work/life balance working from home. Apparently, it’s easier said than done. When you work from the comfort of your own house, the line that separates your work life from your personal life gets even blurrier. I was checking my work emails in the middle of the night, constantly putting in overtime, and spending much more time hunched over my computer than I expected.
If you’re working remotely, don’t make the same mistake I did. Craft a healthy routine that works for you and stick to it. Only work overtime when there actually are pressing issues waiting to be solved. Most importantly, keep in mind that it’s easy to neglect your loved ones even when you spend your entire day at home. Don’t.
2. You Get Slightly Paranoid
When you can’t see your coworkers every day, you can get slightly paranoid that no one believes you’re working. You imagine them sitting comfortably around the water cooler, cracking jokes about how you’re probably not wearing pants at the moment and how you spend your entire days binge-watching The Wire instead of positively contributing to the company. This paranoia often shows its ugly head because we feel guilty for enjoying the luxury of working remotely. I think that’s why we also put in longer hours, to somehow compensate for the fact that we’re not showing up at the office. In reality though, it’s extremely easy for a supervisor to see if you’re working or not. They only have to assess your output. Did you meet your deadlines? Did you finish your assignments in a timely manner? Then no one will think you’re slacking off.
Another thing I was slightly paranoid about in the first couple of months was data security. There are plenty of studies that show that remote employees put the company’s sensitive data at risk, and I didn’t want to become one of them. Luckily, the IT department understood my concerns and was open to the idea of finding a more secure solution for remote access. Proxy Networks has a great white paper on how to increase remote access security across your organization. You can check it out here.
3. You Miss Things that Used to Annoy You
Fighting with your colleagues over where to have lunch. Being stuck in a boring meeting and trying to imagine how everyone would look with only one eyebrow. Even the commute – that’s when I used to catch up on my audiobooks! These are all things I gladly live without, but sometimes I still find myself reminiscing.
4. You Get Lonely
It’s easy to feel isolated when you work remotely. For me, it happened after three or four months. No matter how much I chatted with my colleagues online, there’s something magical about bouncing off ideas with someone when you’re in the same room. It’s hard to achieve the same rapport when you’re miles apart.
To beat the work from home isolation blues, I decided to network more. I started to go out for lunch and meet with friends or other professionals. I even rented a desk at a co-working space nearby and I pop in once or twice a week. The important things is not to let the isolation get to you. Make it a point to see the sun and interact with others at least once per day, even if you’re technically no longer required to leave the house.
5. You Use More Emoticons
I wasn’t very into emoticons before. Now, I use them on a daily basis. It turns out emoticons are really important when you can’t see facial cues. Whenever I was sarcastic at the office, people were able to sense my tone. Now, I have to insert a smiley face to make sure they understand I’m joking. The struggle is real.
Despite the disadvantages of a work-from-home arrangement, I still believe that it makes sense. I’m more productive when I work on my own and considerably less stressed. Moreover, after a few struggles, I managed to achieve a much healthier work/life balance than I had when I was regularly going into the office. Even though I put in a lot of hours every week, I’m still there when my kids need me. And that’s something I’m not willing to give up just yet.