Employees used to see the option of working from home as some sort of gift, bestowed by the management for hard work and sacrifice. A day at home meant a day of sleeping in, watching trashy tv and, maybe, calling in with a made up list of all the things you accomplished while at home. Then the next day you pay for your twenty-four hours of debauchery by making up all the work you missed, cursing yourself for not actually doing anything while at home.
That’s no longer the case. Thanks to the wonders of online hyper-connectivity, now your boss can actually check in with you at any time, be it through e-mail or Skype, and ask to see exactly what you’ve been doing all day. And, sadly, watching a Maury marathon and making a chocolate shake doesn’t count as work. Despite this, many people still see the option of working at home as the easier route. Most business writers will just tell you to find a nice quiet corner, away from distractions so you can get some work done and let things rest at that. But there are some things that people just don’t warn you about…
1. The fact that people are going to want to see your face.
Remember when I said your boss or manager may end up Skyping you throughout the day? Well that means you are going to have to show yourself to other people, which also means you should probably take a shower and get dressed. I know, I know – you thought you could wear your sweatpants and Team Building Exercise ’99 shirt all day. The last thing you want is to look like you just woke up when you get a random call from your office.
Also, this means making sure you have a good spot for receiving Skype calls. Is your floor covered in pizza boxes and clothes? Well, then you better make sure no one can see your floor. Clear out a corner and a nice, clean wall and set up shop there. Whoever ends up calling in probably holds steadfast to the old image of an employee lazing around all day at home on the company’s dollar, so make sure it doesn’t look like that’s all you did.
2. You are going to have to prove you are actually doing work, which may mean working harder.
Life isn’t fair. Even if you do the same amount of work at home as you do in the office, management may still think you are lazing around all day at home. This is especially true if you regularly work from home – like I said, the old stereotypes are hard to shake. And it is up to you to prove that you are a hard worker, regardless of the setting. That means taking on extra tasks, finishing work early, and making sure to consistently update your office about what you are doing.
You may be able to avoid morning traffic but in turn you have to prove you are worth keeping on board. There are plenty of employees out there who would love the opportunity to work at home, so you are not only fighting against those normally gunning for your job, you are fighting against people who would do anything to never have to drive on the freeway during rush hour again. And that is a strong motivator.
3. You’re going to miss the office, or at least the free coffee.
Remember when you looked in the mirror and said you’d give anything to get away from all that gossip, bickering and noise in the office? Well, I’m sorry to report that you will miss that noise after a while. Human beings are social creatures, and though we get upset when our coworkers ignore us or refuse to turn down their music, we still like to be around other people.
You may soon find yourself looking forward to the check-ins from work, staring longingly at your Skype window, hoping someone will call you. Or, at the very least, you’ll start e-mailing silly pictures of cats to other people in your department on a much more regular basis than you ever thought possible. Plus you’ll now have to pay for all that coffee you drink, and when the pot is empty you’ll always be the one who has to refill it.
So while working at home can be very enjoyable, you should not treat the opportunity like a chance for a vacation. You still need to get dressed and work hard, even when there isn’t a manager looking over your shoulder. So the next time you are angrily stewing over office life, remember that some things, like work, are simply inescapable.