Thursday, May 30, 2013

The reality of working from home

You may have noticed my lack of posts lately....
Let me be honest and tell you that I'm suffering from 'screen overload'.
And on top of that - 'messy desk syndrome'.

One of the reasons for these is because I work from home.
Often when I mention this to people they comment like this "oh isn't that wonderful", "how lucky are you", "isn't that just the life" and other statements that lean towards thinking that it is the ideal work situation.

Well today, I'm here to tell you what its really like.

Its not fun
Its not enjoyable
Its not sociable
Its not easy
Its not convenient
Its not wonderful
Its not 'the life'
Its not ideal

Working from home is hard...
and lonely...
and frustrating...
and takes effort...
and self-control...
and requires A LOT of motivation.

I travel to our office once a week where I interact with the most amazing bunch of work colleagues anyone could ever hope for - I feel priviledged to call them "friends". And I also have the most amazing boss!  
Whilst in the office I have appointments with clients and finalise details of what I've worked on showing any issues to my boss. 
I then pack up piles of clients information and files and make several trips to and from my car to transport them home.

REALITY NUMBER ONE: Transporting files is a lot harder than leaving them at work! 

Have you ever thought about how it would be if once you arrived at work you needed to make about 4 trips to and from the car to get everything sorted? I don't even do that many trips when I do our grocery shopping and parking in the garage is a lot closer to the kitchen than the parking spot that I often find at work!

Once home I then move all the files into my office.
REALITY NUMBER TWO: Work comes into the 'home'.

I know its often mentioned how healthy it is to keep these two separate - but for some of us, that's not possible. 
I have one desk. Work and home have to share.
Thankfully its a large desk.
I have added more shelves underneath so that on non-work days I can put files away so they aren't sitting on my desk, sometimes they don't all fit though so they sit on my desk anyway! 
So when people talk about walking away from work - that also means for me sometimes I just don't want to sit in my office doing things that are 'home' things because work is still there!

Contrary to popular belief, on work days I don't get to run in and out of the house catching up on washing, or doing the dishes that I wasn't feeling up to last night. 
Guess what, I actually work! Huh - funny that!
No I don't spend my time in the kitchen baking cakes & sauces & spread, even though that is much rather what I'd like to do!
I actually sit at my desk and work.

REALITY NUMBER THREE: Some days I spend the entire time sitting at my desk.

Yep, so next time you're in the office and you enjoy stretching your legs as you walk across the floor to give someone a phone message --> appreciate it. There's no-one to walk to here!

I have learned to make the most of lunch breaks, not just sit in-front-of-your-screen lunch breaks --> real lunch breaks. I love a sunny day to sit outside and appreciate the space.

Its hard to sit here and not have anyone to run random questions by, to discuss the latest news with, to show off your new shoes to, to comment on the client's work that you just "don't get".  All of which I thoroughly enjoy on my day in the office!

REALITY NUMBER FOUR: Sometimes I don't see an adult other than my husband for days at a time.

And for someone who is quite the social butterfly let me assure you THAT IS HARD! And realllllllllllllllly depressing.

I have learned the importance of social interactions and as such my daughter now catches the bus to and from school so that at least I can see a few mum's up the road each morning and afternoon!

REALITY NUMBER FIVE:  There is no down time between work and home.

The down time between work and home is quite relaxing. I realise now how much the travel time home from work really calms us! By the time we're home we often forget the work hassles of the day! When working from home there is no break between work and home. 

Today's post was inspired by a teary moment in my 'lunch break' when it was all too hard & I just wanted to be able to work back in our office.
And yet I must not forget the positives that come from working at home:
Despite rainy days being lousy for a lunch break - it means that I get the privilege of having my kitty on my desk all day.
Sometimes I'm even blessed with this on sunny days too!

I also appreciate having use of our oven and stove at home because that means whatever I want for lunch I can pretty much have. I love a warm home-made lunch on cold days!

And despite all my frustrations the biggest positive is that I can still be a 'mum' to my daughter. I don't want her spending her afternoons in child-care and me not being a part of her life. I honestly believe that after school time is such a valuable time to connect with what's happening in her world.

....And so for that reason, and that reason only..... I have my cry & then I plough on. I close all distractions and get back to work knowing that I value both my job & my daughter!

So next time you hear "working from home" mentioned - instead of rushing in with the lucky/easy comments, take a minute to think - perhaps it isn't that easy. Tell them you've heard that it can be hard & ask them how they find it! Perhaps they don't find it so enjoyable either!!!


  1. I am one of those people who thinks working from home would be brilliant, but I also recognise that I'm operating under at least a partial delusion ;) I've heard other people say similar things to you. I think I'd love to work from home some of the time but can see that an office the rest would be good :)

  2. As someone who has worked from home full-time for the past 3 years I can relate to most of the issues you have raised. I have been suffering from "screen overload" lately too which isn't great for blogging in your downtime. It can be hard to find the right work/home balance at times, especially when work is busy and you have tight deadlines to meet!

    The benefits of working from home still outweigh the downfalls for me as I never enjoyed commuting and am not the world's most sociable person. I really appreciate being able to take Ollie for a walk every lunchtime and having my cat Monty pop in to the study every now and then for a cuddle.

    1. Yay a fellow work-at-homer who understands!!!!!
      Wish I had enough time on my lunch break to fit in a decent walk! Nothing like a cat cuddle though :-)
      Yes we've had a very busy month at work too that's for sure!

  3. We were only have a conversation at work about working from home as we all could in our section and we did think it would be exciting. But you have highlighted some of the things we didn't think of such as the loneliness. One of the reasons why I do like going to work is the company and chatting to others (I am very much a people person) and one of the reasons why I am not a SAHM/W is I would get very lonely and isolated and I don't do that very well and I don't think its very healthy.

    But on the upside, I do like the idea of working outdoors in the sunshine and having my cat next to me as I work, but I could only do it for a couple of days per week and work in the office the rest of the time.

    I don't mine the commuting as I don't live in a busy city and I do like the 25mins (x2) of driving and listening to music up loud.

    1. I often consider switching to a laptop to be able to enjoy more sunshine! Though I don't know how I'd go outdoors with all the paperwork I have to deal with lol!
      Great that you have such a short commute - I'm sure there's not to many Sydney-siders with that short a trip ;-)

  4. I've worked at home since Lil' L was two (and love it!) but I do appreciate that it can be very isolating. I try and start each day with a half hour jog and I find that the simple action of waving, smiling and the odd word with people I pass is valuable human interaction. I attend a Buddhist study class one evening a week too, which is great. Most of my friends that work of home tend to do 1-2 evening exercise classes per week or attend a book club (which is basically a chance to chat and drink wine from what I can tell!). It sounds like you're too isolated for the majority of your working week which isn't good at all. I feel for you, and really hope you can tweak your week to get a bit more of a balance xx

    1. Yes netball definitely helps keep me sane of an evening! :-)
      I like the idea of a book club - might have to look into that!
      Glad to hear that you enjoy working at home! xxx

  5. I can appreciate what you've written here, although I personally am a home-body and am quite content to be without constant social interaction.

    I only work for myself from home with my cottage industry business, but that being said, when I have a lot of custom orders or a lot of work to do, I can end up spending more time working on it than the average employee works for their job because the work is so time-consuming, starting early in the morning and working through until late at night (sometimes even eating 'on the job'). The pay is abysmal, but I'm still very thankful... I get to be at home with my children and with Dan (who also works from home), I get to spend my day doing something I love doing, and because it is my own business, if I need to I can choose my own hours (most of the time, unless the job is urgent), even if that ends up meaning the customer waits - that is the way I prefer it to be. :)