I’m working from home until early next year and I love the flexibility. I love being able to spend more time with my kids. I love that I no longer have a commute or hunt frantically for something clean and semi-unwrinkled to wear while wrangling two children down to get clean and dressed and dropped off at daycare without anyone getting hurt. Balancing work with home life, however, presents a new set of challenges, especially when your office is your laptop and you share your office with a teething baby and a dog that barks every 5.2 seconds. Here are some myths I’d like to debunk here and now about working from home:
1. You won’t need a lunch break. Eating a sandwich with one hand while typing with the other hand does not count as lunch. Take the time to get out every day even if you eat lunch at your desk. Take a walk. Run an errand. Meet a friend for lunch.
2. Your house will be spotless because you are home all the time. Actually my house is more chaotic and strewn with dirty laundry and toys now that I am here all the time. I have to turn off my “neat freak” mode and get work done and ignore the breakfast dishes, toys, dust, dog hair, and sticky fingerprints on the TV. And that’s tough for me, trust me.
3. You’ll be able to stay in touch with co-workers completely by phone or e-mail. While this is true most of the time, try to go in to the office occasionally to check your regular office mail, attend a meeting, pick up files, etc. It’s a new dynamic to be working remotely, and it helps to stay in the loop if you go in occasionally.
4. You can work in your pajamas 24/7. Well, this is partially true. I gave up washing my hair daily after the birth of my first child, but I do try to at least shower and put on a little makeup for the day. Also, if you must go in to the office, don’t show up in your husband’s sweats and a baby food stained t-shirt despite the fact that may be your normal day-to-day uniform around the house. Even if your office has a casual dress code, business etiquette would dictate that you are still on the clock.
5. You will be more productive working from home. There are SO many distractions working from home…dogs barking, babies crying, the UPS man, neighborhood kids stopping by to sell band fundraisers, phone calls, your new online blog, Jerry Springer (just kidding), etc. Try to limit your personal e-mail and phone calls. They eat up your time. I set goals for the day and week. It also gives you a sense of accomplishment to check those goals off as you complete them.
6. You can skip out on all the extracurricular work activities, like charitable fundraisers and company dinners. Actually I think it’s even more important to volunteer at work and stay visible when you are telecommuting. It helps you stay connected to your co-workers, shows you’re part of the team and that you aren’t taking advantage of your schedule.
7. Telecommuting means you will be working from that great neighborhood corner cafe, sipping coffee and enjoying gourmet pastries while you work from your laptop. Well, if you have children you can’t very well do that unless you have a babysitter or other childcare arrangements and that is easier said than done. My oldest daughter is in daycare and our family helps watch the baby when I need help. You do need to carve out your own work “space,” even if it is in a spare room or at the breakfast bar, for your files and computer.
8. You’ll be able to prepare fabulous gourmet dinners every evening. Every once in a while I’ll pull off a great week where I cook almost every night. But we do a lot of leftovers and pizza.
Perhaps when my kids are both in elementary school I can work from that great corner cafe and sip gourmet coffee.