The Reality of Working From Home – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

You know that saying ‘the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence’? Well that’s definitely the case for me when it comes to working from home – it was one of those things that I dreamt of happening until it actually did and now I actually miss my office ha! For those of you thinking about going into working from home this might be helpful – and even if you aren’t it can be good to see that it’s not all a bed of roses!

Working from home can be great. There’s no pressure to look good all the time, I don’t have to commute on the hot and smelly tube, I can eat tuna sandwiches without worrying about stinking out the office *seriously*, I don’t have to make chit chat with people on those days when all I want is to be alone, I don’t have to worry about changing my tampon in our offices gender neutral toilets *yep also seriously*…

At the same time it can be quite hard to be home-based for work; it definitely feels quite isolating to not be seeing people every day and to only really hear from colleagues when they have a job for you to do – it’s not like being office based where you get the small talk and lunch breaks and make coffee together instead of only communicating when there’s a project to complete.

Also, despite working solely from home for over a year, I’m yet to really get into a decent working pattern. Monday-Wednesdays aren’t so bad – I’m up at the crack of dawn to get ready and take Lily to her school breakfast club for 8am, I get home, have a coffee and start my working day *albeit often forgetting to take a lunch break*. But Thursdays and Fridays my mother in law takes Lily to school and so on those two days in particular I’ve developed the awful habit of sleeping in a bit longer then working in my pj’s all day, only realising at around 3pm that I’ve not stopped to eat or take a break. My official working hours are 8:30-5:30 with an hour lunch break but I never ever seem to work those hours – there are plenty of nights when I sign off at 6, go pick lily up, do dinner and then am back online at 7:30pm working for a couple more hours. I’m loathe to admit it but there are also some days when work is quiet and I drift between checking my inbox and watching Gilmore Girls.

My aim for this year is to get myself into a better pattern for working from home – no more pyjama days, no more skipping meals etc. There will still be days where I do overtime; that just can’t be helped with my role, but I will try my best to not have to work on the weekends.

I definitely do not miss the daily commute BUT I do miss having adult conversations (and no I don’t mean anything dodgy!) and so I’m thinking that I may also build some time into my weekly routine where I get out of the house and go to work in a coffee shop or other local place so that I can see other people and hopefully not feel so isolated and stir-crazy!

Working from home you get a lot of people assuming that you have plenty of free time and can be available to them when they need you. My mum (before we stopped talking *more on that another day*) was a constant culprit of this; ‘just popping by’ for a cup of tea, asking me to pick her something up from the shops etc. I’ve even had friends ask me to babysit – as if I can run a childcare setting whilst on conference calls and trying to meet deadlines. It’s pretty frustrating because you feel guilty for saying no but on the other hand they wouldn’t ask you if you had a regular office-based job.

I’m lucky that a lot of people at my company work from home and there’s a lot of visibility to my work however I know others who work from home and who find that they are overlooked by their bosses for promotions etc and that people in the work assume they do nothing all day! They’d know about it at my office if I did nothing all day ha!

People often assume that working from home means I get to spend more time with Lily but that’s not the case – yes I’m in the house with her more often but I don’t get to actually spend time with her the way I wish I could. I’m busy working, trying to concentrate on a million things at once whilst she whines that I’m not playing barbie with her. It makes me feel incredibly guilty because I can’t switch off from work even when I really should.

I think people assume that working from home means that I can do all my housework in between answering emails. Yeah I can throw a wash in first thing in the morning but chances are I’ll forget all about it and it’ll still be in the machine a few days later!

The pros for me are the flexibility of it; the fact that I get to drop Lily to breakfast club 3 mornings a week, that I get to pop to Tesco for a whizz around the supermarket on quieter days, I’m indoors to get parcels delivered (and to collect neighbour’s parcels too more often than not), I don’t need to book a day off for workmen needing to come to the flat, I can get fresh air rather than the horrendous air conditioning they have at the office, I can work sat on the sofa rather than in an uncomfortable office chair, I save money on not eating out everyday *although I rarely remember to eat!* and I can do an at home workout without needing to shower and rush back to the office trying to look presentable. It even means that if I can ever persuade Scott to move out of London I will be able to stay in the same role – I’ve worked from home, cafes, other people’s houses even a hotel once – as long as I have wifi I’m all good! It’s little things like this that make up for the negatives and I am grateful my manager has given me that flexibility – I’d definitely have had to leave my company if he had insisted that I commute to our Kent office everyday as there is no way I could handle the 2 hour commute, let alone afford it!

Do you work from home?

Alex

xxx

2 thoughts on “The Reality of Working From Home – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

  1. Gender neutral toilets!!! Ugh.. But, this post is really helpful, thank you! I’m currently struggling with making a very big decision and trying to read all I can on the subject xx

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