What Nobody Ever Tells You about Working from Home

When I started Pillar Search & HR Consulting, I went from working in the office 5 days a week to 4 days a week. I have an in-office day on Wednesdays with a consulting client, or as I like to call it, dress like a grown-up day! I have loved every minute of working from home. It has been a total game changer. There have been some surprises though. If you are considering a role that allows you to work from home almost exclusively, here were a few of my “aha” moments:

  • Be prepared to redecorate. Believe me, this was my biggest surprise. Spending hours on end in your abode will make you realize that cannot stand the paint color in your immediate work area. It started to feel too dark, so I painted it. And then the bedroom looked too dark. And then the guestroom. If the dog stands still long enough she may get a coat of paint.
  • I miss coworkers. Sometimes. Granted, I no longer have to listen to Bob from Accounting complain about the quality of coffee or Suzie from Client Service go on and on about her cats, but I miss the comradery and the ability to bounce ideas off of people. I try to do client or candidate lunches once or twice a week. Some days I will sneak out to the gym just to see another person during the day. Human interaction is essential.
  • My dry cleaner misses me. We used to be on a first-name basis. Now I am just some person who brings in her “fancy” clothes every few weeks since the days of suits and dresses are few and far between (thank heavens).
  • My boyfriend misses me wearing the suits and dresses. 9 times out of 10 I am in my yoga pants when he comes home, and you know it is bad when I justify it by telling myself that I am wearing my “dressy” Lululemon.
  • I now regret the money spent on shoes (okay, not really…) It’s just a wee bit challenging to justify what I spent on my friends Louboutin, Blahnik and Choo when I now spend most days in Old Navy gym socks.
  • Those appointments that I used to schedule way in advance are a breeze. Those annoying four hour windows from the cable company? No problem! I’ll be here!
  • Toilet paper. Not to be indelicate, but you never think about that when in an office. Ditto for water, post-its, and coffee/tea. In an office, those things somehow magically appear. You will be amazed at how quickly you run through them. Be sure to stock up.
  • Time Management. Without the normal office cues to indicate time, it is so easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole of a project, look up, and realize the day is gone. You do not see people coming and going, or have the same number of meetings to break up the day – it is great because it keeps me focused, but sometimes I need to set a timer so that I remind myself to take a breather.
  • Family and friends think I am free to play. Set boundaries if you start to work from home. People assume that it means that you can chat on the phone at any time or meet them for downtime when they have a day off. That is not the case. I am working from home, with a big emphasis on the w-o-r-k.
  • I have become Schneider from One Day at a Time. Telling my building manager I work from home may have been a mistake, as he asks me to cover for him and check on work being done in our brownstone.  If you are too young to know the Schneider reference, I am sorry that you missed on one of the best sitcoms ever. Fear not, it’s available on Netflix and I highly recommend it.
  • MOVE! Living in the city (Boston), I often walked a mile to and from the office, and clocked thousands of steps while there going to meetings. Now I need to remind myself to move. One thing that helped my waistline is the lack of the office candy bowl and endless birthday cake/leftover catered lunches. Best part? If you end a conference call and start doing pushups in the office, you would be looked at funny. At home, the dog assumes it is an invitation to play!

There are a million perks to working from home. Quality of life, laundry does not pile up, fewer distractions, and let’s face it, the commute cannot be beat. If you work from home, what have been your surprises?

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