You don't wear white after Labor Day, and you don't wear pajamas after noon. If you are like most people, your reaction probably went something like: "Noon! I wish. I'm out of my pajamas by six in the morning!" If that's the case, then you probably aren't like me. I work from home. There's a good chance I'm wearing pajamas right now (actually I'm not because I have to interact with the outside world and go to the post office today). Loungewear aside, working from home is becoming an increasingly popular option for many employers, and the nature of "working from home" is changing. NPR touched on the increase in working from home the other week in their story Telework: Not Just For Moms And Millennials, and the article struck a chord with me because myself and several of my coworkers also work from home in a full time capacity or balance it out with a mix of field work and at-home work.
Contrary to popular belief, or at least what I'm assuming is popular belief given peoples reactions when I tell them I work from home (usually an assumption that I'm not actually "working", but am instead laying in bed watching "Parks and Recreation" while eating cheese balls from 9-5), working from home is work, albeit in a totally different structure than traditional office work, and it comes with a hefty learning curve the first few months. I try to adapt to it by waking up and going to a class at the gym, so I have to shower and get moving, otherwise it's all too easy to go into couch potato mode.
I reached out to my coworkers and asked how they adapted to this environment, dealt with the lack daily social interaction, and their feelings of working from home in general, and this is what I heard:
"I'm convinced that as long as you have the willpower and discipline, working from home can be more productive than in an office. You can make the best coffee in the world at home, take yoga or meditation breaks, light a candle, or pet your kitty cat without concern of looking 'unproductive.' I was never one for some of the goofier parts of office rituals like Hawaiian shirt day, and I'd rather spent that time thinking about creativity solutions at work."
- Jennifer Hinton, Storyologist
"It took me about 4 months to acclimate to home office life. I love the flexibility, not having to deal with a long commute, traffic and in-person office politics. I also get to hang out with my dogs, which I love. I do start to feel isolated with lack of face-to-face human contact and find I almost forget how to drive my car ( kidding) because it sits idle. One challenge is finding balance as work is always there at home. Making time to get up, walk around, take breaks is important."
-Lisa Osborne, Catalyst Maestro/COO
"My biggest challenge is not having a routine and not having the social aspect of an office setting. I miss having a purpose to get up and go somewhere everyday and I really miss talking to people after spending an entire day staring at the computer screen. When I am in Spain, I am alone working in my apartment which is tough to meet new people in a newish city. Luckily, Jen and Austin (coworkers) have been my constant Skype companions. They keep me sane."
-Kirsten Killean, Investigadora
"I've worked at home since 2004'; that's when I finished my graduate coursework and fell into the ABD (All But Dissertation) abyss: no structure, no deadlines, no colleagues, no accountability...just me, my research, a blinking cursor on an empty page, and the unsettling knowledge that at some point I needed to bang out a book in order to receive my degree. In contrast, working with Ignite has been way more social and way more structured what with all the phone calls, hangouts, deadlines, travel, and pushed-up deadlines. So my productivity has soared here- even if I can't entirely shake the bad habit of spending some days in my pajamas."
-Vida Mia Garcia, Insightista
"I'm the prototypical work-from-home individual- a mom working from home...There has been a productivity shift involving creative endeavors since I started working from home. There is something very freeing to be home, it is a safe place in which I can come up with my most 'out there' ideas...Social aspect is rough...when I hit a creative all it is a relief to go bother a coworker for a minute, this is rather hard to do when one is at home. A work-around is to 'leave a coworker on' meaning get on Google Chat or Skype with a coworker and just leave him/her on. You're not chatting or engaging, but just to know there is someone else there working on a project with whom you can bounce ideas off of every now and then is strangely comforting.
The weirdest thing to navigate? Take your child to work day..."
-Stephanie Spencer, Storyologist
"Productivity= terrible, distractions everywhere....
Social Aspect= mega lonely, I'm not allowed to have pets in my apartment!
Maybe now something positive: I like being able to sleep later, not commute, and "slack" on grooming when the mood presents itself. But now I'm thinking I should take your advice and treat my space more like I'm heading into an office, grooming required!"
-Preston Treichel, Insights Interpreter