Working from Home: Expectations, Realities & Misconceptions
Working From Home – The Dream?
The opportunity to work from home is often a highly desirable one. In the digital industry, this lifestyle is becoming more attainable, with more and more opportunities to operate from anywhere in the world (as long as you have a laptop and decent internet access). Your expectations of working from home might lean towards “everything is fantastic, there are no downsides!” Sure, there are some obvious benefits that come with being in a remote role, especially as it has strong ties to positive work-life balance. However, there are also challenges and misconceptions that are often less known or spoken of. I have gone into four of the more commonly recognised benefits, to shed some light on the reality of working remotely.
The flexibility to decide how you wish to operate is a wonderful thing and can increase your general day-to-day productivity. Setting your own hours to complete your tasks means that you can use your time as you wish, and work when it feels best for you. If you happen to be a night owl, then getting in some hours during the night when it’s quiet and calm might be your thing. Or maybe you would prefer to start work at 6am, and take the afternoon to exercise or read a book.
So what could be bad about choosing your own hours? Operating outside of a 9–5 role takes strong resolve and self-discipline. In a regular office role, it is not always easy to pull yourself out of bed on a Monday morning and commute to work. Similarly, for remote work, the ability to choose your own hours can lead to procrastination or less effective time management. It may be even harder to get started on a Monday when you don’t have to make a commute and your comfy bed is calling.
The beauty is that sometimes, that extra hour of sleep or quiet time in the morning reading a book can be just what is needed to mentally prepare, and make for a more productive day. Time management, discipline, and routine are the keys to ensuring you are using your flexible hours in the most efficient way for you.
Freedom To Work Anywhere
This is probably my favourite benefit from being in a remote role. Fancy a week at the beach? A trip overseas? Visiting family? Or maybe you would like to work from a park, shared office space, or coffee shop? Having the choice to travel and work from any location is an incredible feeling and provides a great sense of freedom and expanse. The opportunities are endless!
What is less often realised about not working in an office, is that you can experience feelings of disconnection & loneliness. Travelling with work is great, but often the common reality is that you will find yourself working from your home. Alone.
If you are accustomed to working in an office as part of a team, or you are very used to being surrounded by people during the day, this can be a bit of a shock to the system.
We all know the feeling of finishing work for the day in an office, and the bliss of finally getting home. Often the last thing you want to do is go out or be social. It can be the opposite experience when you are at home alone all day. I have found it important that I increase my social interactions & hobbies during the week, and make sure that I get out of the house!
No More Commuting
It’s a big relief no longer having to face the rat race of the morning commute. This means you can start your day in the way that feels best for you. In my experience, a big contributor to the daily stress of 9–5 was the journey of getting to the office and then getting home every day. Taking that stress out of your day can lead to improved mental & physical health.
So, what happens when your commute to work is walking from one room of your house to another? It can be tricky sometimes when there is no separation from your work and home life, as it can be easier to keep mentally carrying the work with you once you have signed off. It can take practice to learn how to detach yourself from work once you have decided that you are done for the day. I find that it helps to have a dedicated workspace or office – one that you can walk away from and shut the door behind you as you go.
It can be easier to make better meal choices when you are at home, as you have access to your own utensils & food and are not limited to whatever options are available in the vicinity of an office. This can also mean saving money on buying lunch from shops near your office.
However, many of us are aware that food delivery services can be just as tempting when you are at home. Temperance is definitely needed in both cases!
Outside of meals, having the flexibility to set your hours means that you are able to enjoy more activities and downtime that might not have been possible (or as accessible) when working 9–5 in an office. I have picked up more hobbies, found more time to meditate, read more books, and exercised more since working remotely. This has actually increased my productivity, but more importantly, has positively impacted my mental and physical health!
Working remotely has been a fantastic experience, and has provided me with freedom, flexibility, and a sunny outlook on life & work! It has also presented challenges and opportunities to learn about myself, take up new hobbies, and step out of my comfort zone.
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Written by Hanna Baume