10 Things No One Tells You About Working From Home

{Today we're excited to change things up a bit and share a guest post from our good friend Collin Woodard. Like us, he's from Georgia but currently lives in Boston. He's an auto journalist, so he does this writing thing for a living. He's also a newlywed married to the wonderful Kate Willis. Enjoy!}

By Collin Woodard

When you work in an office, it’s easy to see the appeal of working from home.

There’s no commute, which means you can sleep in an extra hour or two. There’s no dress code, so you can wear whatever you want (or nothing at all). There’s no boss looking over your shoulder, so there’s no one to complain about you clipping your toenails or eating some strong-smelling ethnic food in the office.

And if that’s all there was to working from home, I’d be right there with you telling everybody that working from home is the best thing ever. But after spending the last several years as a full-time remote worker, it’s my responsibility to let you in on the secrets nobody is going to tell you about working from home.

 

1. It gets lonely

When you work in an office, you’re forced to spend time around coworkers. You might not like every single one of them, but there’s bound to be at least a couple you can tolerate. You’ll grab lunch together, hit happy hour together, and Gchat when you should really be working.

At home, there’s no one to do that with. It’s just you. By yourself. Every single day. Yeah, your office might use Slack, so you can chat with your coworkers, but you’ll probably go at least 10 hours without saying a word out loud to anyone.

If you live with a significant other or a roommate, you’ll see them when they get home, but if you like talking to more than one person per week, finding opportunities to socialize will be significantly harder.

 

2. No one thinks you have a real job

Real jobs require you to go into real offices to do real work around real people, right? Of course. So anyone who doesn’t have to spend every day in a real office obviously doesn’t actually have a real job. Except working from home still involves working. You just do that work at home.

Unfortunately, no one is going to actually believe that. Friends are going to want you to take a three hour break to meet them for lunch on the other side of the city. Your spouse is going to be confused when you don’t take care of all the housework. Your dog is going to look at you like a traitor for not playing with her every 10 minutes.

And that’s just if you work for a regular company. If you’re working freelance or starting your own company, it’ll be even worse.

 

3. Work never stops

These days, it’s hard enough to leave work at work when there’s an office you can physically leave. But when you work from home, you never truly leave the office. As a result, it’s easy to find yourself feeling like you’re never truly done for the day.

And since you’re never in the office, there’s also the constant threat of your boss thinking you’re lazy and not doing enough. So you constantly feel like you’re under pressure to respond to late-night emails, put in a few extra hours after dinner, and even keep going through the weekend.

 

4. There are no natural transitions

When you work from a “real” office, home and work are two distinct places, and there’s always a commute that helps you transition between the two. And for most people, by the time they get home, they’ve had enough time to relax and get out of work mode.

But when you work from home, you don’t get that. You can work from your bed.just as easily as you can work from your home office, and even when you’re done with work, there’s no location change to signal a shift from work mode to home mode.

As a result, you have to make sure you set up routines that allow you to change gears effectively. Because if you don’t, it’ll impact your productivity at work, and more importantly, it’ll impact your ability to engage with your spouse after work.

 

5. The novelty of not getting dressed wears off quickly

Not having a dress code is great. It really is. You can wear whatever you want, whether it’s pajamas, your birthday suit, or underwear and a t-shirt. Except it only takes a few weeks for the novelty of that to wear off.

The reality is that dressing like a college freshman every day wears on you. You feel gross, and your personal hygiene starts to slide. Before you know it, you’re trying to remember the last time you brushed your teeth, and suddenly you hate what you’ve become.

The truth is, routine is important. You need to get out of bed, put on different clothes, wear deodorant, and maintain basic levels of hygiene. Otherwise, you’ll end up looking like a neckbeard (or legbeard) before you know it. And nobody wants that.

 

6. You’ll become a hermit before you know it

When you have an actual commute to a physical office, you’re required to go outside at least twice a day. And whether you like them or not, you’ll be forced to interact with your coworkers while you’re there.

But when you work from home, there’s no one forcing you to go outside. And there’s no one to talk to. Yes, you’ll see your spouse at the end of the day, but they’re probably exhausted from all the commuting they just did and the coworker-socializing they were forced to participate in all day. Before you know it, a week will have passed, and you will have only left your house to go grocery shopping.

If that’s your dream lifestyle, then keep doing you. But very few people actually enjoy never leaving their house during the week. Yes, you can combat this tendency with a carefully planned social life, but just know it’s out there.

 

7. Establishing a routine takes time

When you start a new job, it definitely takes time to get into a routine. Thanks to your coworkers already having things figured out, though, it’s pretty easy to settle in. But when you’re working from home, you’re on your own.

Oh, and you have infinitely more distractions than you ever would have in an office. There are dishes that need to be done, television you could watch, laundry that needs to be folded, and naps that could be taken. Heck, you might even have a roommate or two that wants to chat at the most inconvenient times.

If you want to actually succeed at working from home, you need to ignore all of that. When you’re on the clock, the best thing you can do is treat it like you’re in a different world. If you can set up an office in a separate room, that’s best, but even if you can’t, you have to be serious about closing yourself off from distractions.

 

8. You miss out on coworker bonding

It would be great if raises and promotions were based entirely on performance and other easily measurable factors. Unfortunately, that’s not how business works. Your reputation around the office is going to strongly influence that sort of thing.

You could be lucky and work for a company that uses Slack, so it’s almost like you’re in the office. But you’re never going to hear the jokes your coworkers tell in person. You’re never going to be able to go to happy hour with them after work. And even when holiday parties roll around, you’re only going to be able to show up to those every once in a while.

 

9. It’s less flexible than you would think

A lot of people seem to think that working from home means sleeping in, taking long breaks, and being able to work whenever you want. But unless you’re working freelance or starting your own company, that’s probably not the case.

You definitely don’t have to worry about coworkers judging you for taking breaks, but you still have work to do. And your boss is probably going to expect you to keep in touch throughout the day. Especially if your office uses Slack, it’s going to be hard to work a mid-morning nap into your schedule.

Beyond that, the rest of the world still runs on a traditional business schedule. You’re going to want to follow a similar schedule just so you’re free to socialize with your friends when they’re free.

 

10. Eating is harder than you’d expect

One of the appeals of working from home is that you get to eat you own food. The kitchen is stocked with all the foods you like, you can eat any of it at any time, and you even have the ability to cook for yourself if you so choose. Plus, if you have a little salmon left over from the night before, there’s no one to complain that you’re making the whole office smell.

But without a defined routine or any clear breaks, you’ll find that lunch begins to slide. Maybe breakfast does too. Before you know it, it’s 3 PM, and you haven’t eaten a thing all day. Or maybe it’s 4 PM. And at that point, you might as well just wait until dinner.

Alternatively, you go the opposite direction and just snack all day. You don’t actually eat breakfast or lunch. You just graze on cheese, yogurt, popcorn, chips, pretzels, bagels, and candy. And while not eating all day certainly isn’t healthy, if you’re a snacker, it’s even worse. Except you won’t notice how much weight you’re gaining because you wear a robe all day.