Voice of Experience: Great Things about Working from Home, and a Few that Suck

Voice of Experience: Great Things about Working from Home, and a Few that Suck

Nancy Mitchell
Feb 12, 2016

To a lot of people, working from home is the dream: relaxing on the couch, in your pjs, blasting your favorite music, not smelling your cubicle mate's weird food. And it is pretty great — some of the time. As an Apartment Therapy staffer, I worked from home for almost three years, telecommuting from my couch in Houston, Texas before moving to New York. There were some things I loved about it — and also some things I really, really hated.

What's really great:

- Zero commute time.
Ok, or maybe an approximately one-minute commute time, depending on how long it takes you to move the from the bed to the sofa.

-Nobody cares what you wear.
The time you spent picking out your outfits is now time you'll spend getting work done, because absolutely nobody cares what you wear. Unless you're on a dreaded video call.

-Fewer distractions.
Everyone I've ever talked to about working from home first expresses jealousy, and then amazement that I ever managed to get anything done. But I actually found that working from home meant less distractions — no phones ringing, no interruptions from co-workers, no ambient noise.

-You can fix healthy lunches without having to pack them into a sad little Tupperware.
Now that you don't have to scramble to pack a lunch and get out the door on time in the morning, you may find yourself eating a lot healthier, and saving a lot of money on takeout.

-Scheduling annoying little things like home repairs is suddenly way less annoying.
The cable guy has an eight-hour window? No problem, because you're not going anywhere. Other things that are suddenly way easier: receiving packages, picking up dry cleaning, making a quick run to that store that inexplicably closes at 5:30 PM.

-You can sit on the couch, pick your nose, listen to whatever music you want, and no one will care.
The office that you work in is exactly the office that you want to be working in, because you make the rules here. Not gonna lie: I've had movements of sitting on the couch, in my pajamas, blasting Taylor Swift (like the early Taylor Swift stuff from before anyone admitted that they liked Taylor Swift), where I've thought: this is great. I have a pretty great life.

- You can also work from a coffee shop, and pretend you are Carrie Bradshaw or some other plucky heroine.
You are the star of your own life! But you will probably spend a whole lot of money on coffee.

What isn't so great:

- Less accountability.
No one is looking over your shoulder, and suddenly the only thing keeping you from spending 1.5 hours watching cat videos is, well, you. Do you have that kind of discipline?

-More distractions (possibly).
Whether working from home will result in more or less distractions for you depends entirely on whether you are the kind of person who gets more distracted by the delightful things in your home than by your delightful co-workers. I will admit that sometimes, when I'm stressing out over a particular post, washing the dishes suddenly starts to look very tempting: half an hour later, my kitchen is spotless, and I haven't written a single line.

-You may slowly begin to hate your house.
Most people think of their home as a restful place, a retreat from the outside world, but when you work from home your home is suddenly also your office, the seat of drudgery, and you can never quite get away from those stressful feelings. Sure, you never have to go to work, but you can also never leave work.

-You may slowly begin to lose your mind.
This, for me, was the biggest problem with working from home. Those aforementioned 'distractions' from co-workers may take you away from your work for a little bit — but they're also a really nice break from the daily grind. No one is really capable of working for eight or nine hours without any stops, and no one, I'm convinced, is meant to spend their whole life alone. Which is what you may feel like you're doing when you're working from home: trapped in the box that is your apartment, staring at the box that is your computer, which is your only connection with the outside world.

Of course, your mileage may vary, and I wrote this not to discourage everyone from working from home, but rather as a way of shedding light on the experience by explaining what it was like for me. People more introverted than myself, or who crave quiet more than I do, may really love it. Now that I've made the move from Houston to New York and am a little closer to our SoHo office, I try to limit my working from home days to once a week. While it's tempting to sit on the couch and enjoy the peace and quiet, by the end of the day, no matter how much I've gotten done, I find myself missing the camaraderie of being in the office. Even in a time when technology makes it possible to work on almost anything from almost anywhere, there's something about being together that's just so nice.

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