Last month, I said goodbye to my working-from-home life, as I got an internship with a company here in Gothenburg. I’ve finished the internship and will start a new job next week (office-based), so I think I will share a few things about working from home.
These days, the Internet has provided us with more opportunities and flexibility when it comes to working. Having worked from home for some time, I can vouch for these perks. It’s nice, but it only paints one side of the picture.
Working from home has its pros and cons, and the reality is, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and it’s certainly not always as glamorous as social media make it seem.
If you’re wondering what it’s really like to work from home, I’ll show you what’s behind the doors — the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Disclaimer: The things that are written in here are based solely on my experience. It might be the same with most people’s, or it might be different.
Working in pajamas is totally fine
With my previous job, I always had meetings every day on Skype, but they were just audio calls. Nobody could see what I was wearing, and there were
many times when I did meetings on my bed, with greasy hair and a wrinkled T-shirt. Nobody could see how I looked, and there was something liberating about that.
My commute only took about 30 seconds from my bed to my desk (zero if I did meetings in bed). Not getting on the bus in the rush hour and getting to stay in when the weather is bad are definitely 2 things that I’ll miss the most.
Flexible working hours
With my previous job, as long as I attended meetings and got my work done on time, they didn’t care when I did it. This flexibility gave me the chance to go to events in weekdays, and to do shopping or run errands when I knew the shops would be quiet. There were also times when I paused work for a few hours to go out and soak up the sun (a rare occurrence here).
As you can see, I made the most of this perk while I had it.
Of course, this depends on the company or client(s) you’re working for, but I know this is something that a lot of freelancers struggle with.
In my previous job, I was paid by the hour. We did have an agreement about the amount of time I would work for per week, but this was also flexible. It sounds good, but this also means that I wouldn’t get paid if I was sick and unable to work. Basically, no work = no pay. Sick pay and paid leave weren’t included in the perks of working from home, and neither were insurance and pension.
This wasn’t a deal breaker for me, but something that I needed to factor in and plan ahead when dealing with finances.
Limited support for learning and growth
Working remotely means I was pretty much on my own when it comes to learning. I didn’t have the opportunity to go to professional events like training, conferences, and seminars, nor did I have a mentor who could give me insights from their experience.
While I’m always up for learning independently, I do feel that the lack of these things made my learning process and career growth slower than ideal.
It’s hard to set a boundary between work and life
I knew the rule of having a space designated for work so you could ‘switch on’ and work once you get to that spot, and thus separating it from other activities you usually do at home (like relaxing). In our current apartment, I have a work corner (and in our Southampton apartment, I even had a well-equipped and cozy study for work), and still, it’s hard to set the boundary.
Being in a tiny space for so long made me so bored and restless, that I ended up working in the ‘wrong’ space in the house, like the living room or bedroom. Working in a coffee shop was out of the question since I couldn’t leave my belongings unattended when going to the toilet (besides, the noise always distracted and irritated me). I sometimes worked in the library, but that was not always ideal when I had lots of meetings during the day. Coworking space was another option but the price was too expensive for me.
The meaning of boundary also stretches beyond that of physical space. I tried my best to establish a routine to stick to, but it often didn’t work like that. As a result, I often worked well into the night, the time that should have been used for leisure activities or relaxing.
The cabin fever and the isolation
Cabin fever was the thing that I struggled with the most. While I talked with my colleagues every day, working from home often felt lonely. I missed the social parts of working in an office. Having someone to talk with during lunch, going to office parties, or just chatting over coffee. The feeling of isolation could get really bad at times, so much so that going to a grocery store was my highlight of the day.
I had to actively try to meet people (outside of work) just so my social skills didn’t get rusty. The same thing happened to my presentation skills. Throughout my time there, I didn’t get to do any presentation to an audience. The closest I could get to that was presenting my ideas over the phone to 2-3 people, which is not the same thing.
Working from home was fun for a while, but in the end, I was craving to socialize and be in a professional, working environment. I know that I’m gonna miss working in my pajamas and life without commuting, but I don’t mind trading those with a chance to work in an actual office, where I can interact more with people and be out and about.
How about you? Would you like to share the perks and downsides of your working situation? Whether you’re working from home, in an office, or somewhere else, I’d like to hear your thoughts! 🙂