Yesterday i stayed and worked from home – it is actually very nice that i can do that every once in a while. It takes the stress away a little bit, it offers a change of scenery and a feeling that I am at least a little bit in charge of my time. It is a choice: the i sooo do not want to go to the office today is no longer part of my vocabulary, as i can just stay home. Of course, the ooooh, why is it not the weekend already / i do not want to work anymore / why can’t i just stay at home and have a lot of money and just spend my time doing what i like are still there, but still, it is a start.
When i tell people that i can work from home, i get the same reaction, indifferent of the nationality, experience, age or degree of familiarity between us. “That must be wonderful!” They all say. Well, it is…. and it’s not, both at the same time.
I can truly say that i love working from home, because….
1. I can work in my pajamas. There is no such thing as worrying what to wear the next day, ironing, doing laundry etc. I do not have to spend money on office clothes, and i do not have to wear a bra, or shoes.
2. There is no need to get out of the house. This point is extremely important on rainy/snowy/lazy days. Or on Fridays, if you live in Italy ( there are public transportation strikes every other week).
3. There are no transportation costs / delays / nerves. This point is valid any season, any day, any time. No more being stuck in traffic, no more sweaty subways and crowded buses.
4. There is no need to put on make-up ( not that i ever do, but anyway), brush my hair, or even (ooops) brush my teeth. And i do not have to put on deodorant (let’s face it, i am in my pajamas!)
5. I can actually wake up 5 minutes before the start of the workday. Sometimes. Very rarely, when it is not too busy at work and when everyone’s hair is not on fire. Extremely rarely. Maybe like 1% of the time.
6. I do not have to wear headphones when listening to music. There is nobody around anyway.
7. I can talk to myself. Out loud.
8. I can make faces at the computer when something goes wrong. Even scream at it if i feel like it.
9. During the lunch break, i can actually do some household chores, go shopping, go to the bank, take a shower, paint my nails or i can flood the apartment and clean up the mess afterwards.
10. During the smaller i am waiting for inspiration breaks i can actually dance around and sing out loud.
11. I water my plants a lot more often.
12. I can work in any position i want. And i do not have to stick to one choice for too long.
13. I can receive home deliveries and avoid annoying the doorman/angry by default lady.
14. Working from home basically means i can work from anywhere – a privilege i used a lot in the last year. I worked from 4 different countries, from a coffee shop, library, university, friend’s house, student residence, my sister’s bedroom, airport, airplane, park and maybe even other places that do not come to mind right now. All i need is internet. And sometimes not even that. At least not when i was working on the weekends, and late in the night ( see point nr2 below).
15. Given that any office job – whether that office is at home, in the kitchen, in bed or at an actual office building – entails a lot of sitting at the computer in the same position and very little movement, working from home actually offers the possibility to promise yourself that you will work out more. At one time, i wanted to take small 15 minute breaks every 2 hours – after all, the law says i MUST take such breaks – and do push-ups, abdomens or butt exercise. Of course, i never did any, but at least i got to plan it.
However, there are also the downsides…
1. I sometimes forget to eat. or i know and feel that i have to eat, but as there is no fixed schedule ( no canteen closing or no colleagues going out at a certain hour) i end up postponing lunch till dinner.
2. Saving time on preparations to get to work and on transportation actually means that i can start working at any hour. Even at 4 a.m, if there is such a need. Or at 6 a.m. Every Monday. Right after the weekend. It also means i do not necessarily have to finish at 6. I am already home, ain’t i? Home does not close. There are no buses to miss. No guard to kick you out.
3. There is no clear separation between office and home. Between work and play. I guess i would need a bigger apartment and a separate office room. Uu, i would soooo like that.
4. You do not belong to a team. To any team. There is so little real communication that you end up talking to yourself ( see point 7 above) or you end up writing blog posts entitled “No Human Contact – Day 4“.
5. You have to have the complete trust of your supervisors and of the people who you work with [online]. They need to be confident that when you tell them ” I will get started on that right away”, you are actually doing that, rather than pressing play on yet another youtube video. They need to trust you when you say that the project is delayed due to technical problems – server errors, computer malfunctions, network issues etc – and not think for a second that you were slacking.
If you are a manager, however, there is also the motivating and insipiring part that is even more difficult when you are not face to face with a person, day in and day out. Earning the trust of the employees, trusting them in return, and motivating them to actually do what they are telling you they are doing is not something everyone can achieve. My manager, for one, does that pretty well.
6. I can not go out of the house for days. Because there is nowhere you HAVE to go, unless you are left without food in the house. But not even that one is a valid reason, because the stores are usually closed by the time you finish work, see point nr2.
7. Not getting out of my pajamas is not a very good motivator. I look lazy, and I feel lazy… because after all, i am in my fluffy “dog tired” pajamas. And the latter wear out a lot faster.
8. It is very tiring, day in and day out, no change of scenery, no coffee breaks, no gossip around the water cooler or whatever, no bumping into anybody on the hall, no sharing the same elevator, no awkward moments in the restroom, no saying oh my, how can she wear THAT to work and no hearing that said about you.
9. No free tea, no free coffee and no free snacks. You actually have to buy them.
10. The above is true for soap and toilet paper. They need to be replaced a lot more often.
In my case, i do have a choice whether to go to the office or not, or, better said, there is an office i can go to. In this case, i just carry my computer aka my work to the office and stay there for the day. And thus i can benefit from the advantages of being able to work from home, but i can also avoid some of the disadvantages mentioned. Others, however, are forced to work from home – this trend is becoming more and more popular, as companies are trying to save on administrative costs such as rent, electricity, internet and consumables. The latter may be decreasing the costs, but it is doing so at the expense of productivity. Workers are not motivated, they are not part of a work culture as they do not perceive any work environment, there is very little mutual learning, little human interaction, and very little social and peer pressure. The latter factors are important in raising productivity, efficiency and thus, revenue. These companies have no idea what they are missing.
And I am not sure that those rolls of toilet paper and those liquid soap fills are worth it.