Ahhh, working from home. That's the dream, right? Imagine rolling out of bed, opening your laptop to work from the couch with a piping hot cup of coffee brewing, replying to emails in your yoga pants and doing whatever the heck you want from the comfort of your own home... all the while getting paid for your work? Sounds like a sweeeeet setup!
I still think that working from home is wonderful but it's no longer for me.
Over the past six months or so, I realized I hardly ever work from home anymore. I have to say, this surprised me! I'm someone who hugely values the flexible schedule that my web design & development business gives me, so what changed? Why did I stop working from home?
Well, there are a few reasons and I'm excited to share my (possibly controversial?) point of view with you today!
But first - the benefits of working from home
Let me start off by saying that just because I rarely work from home anymore, doesn't mean that I don't still love it! It's a wonderful perk and privilege that can be a major game changer for many people. Heck, there have been countless articles written about how amazing working from home is, why everyone should do it, and how it'll change your life!
Off the top of my head, here are a few reasons why I used to love working from home:
- It let me make the most out of my flexible schedule
- I was always around for mail/package delivery and could do laundry at anytime
- My apartment is blissfully quiet
- Chairs were comfortable, table was the right height, I had everything I needed in my workspace
- No commute
- Less stuff to move around or forget
- Zero/no overhead costs
- Didn't have to deal with freezing cold offices
- I could put on a face mask or Crest white strips without being "unprofessional"
- Full control of music playlists or podcasts
- Washing my hair every day was totally optional
- Wouldn't get distracted by coworkers on sales calls right next to me
See? There are so many benefits to working from home that I couldn't believe I had given them all up to voluntarily work elsewhere!
My "work from home" story
Believe it or not, I've been working from home on and off since fall 2010! My first job out of university was at a software company where we were lucky enough to be able to work from home a few days a week. So long as we were accessible by messenger and phone (if need be), remote work was not a problem - in fact, it was encouraged! This was a major perk for my 21 year old self and there were many days where I was deeply thankful for it. I would set up my "home office" at the dining room table (LOL #adulting) and tinker away happily for hours on end.
Having worked from home in some capacity for so many years meant that I got to be really good at it. I was super productive because I didn't spend so much time chatting at the water cooler (yes, I legit used to do that haha). I made the most of the flexible schedule by starting work earlier cause I'm definitely a morning person, taking a longer lunch break and finishing up in time to make it to my favourite workout class. I could spread out my laptop, notes and gear on my large table/desk at home because I had way more space than at my tiny cubicle, and this helped keep me focused and organized.
Working from home also let me extend a few vacations, which I obviously loved. So long as I got my work done and was accessible to my colleagues and clients, it didn't matter which city I was in and I took advantage of this quite a bit. There were many times when I would head out to visit friends/family on a Wednesday evening, work normal hours remotely on the Thursday & Friday, spend the weekend having a wonderful visit, then return home on Sunday night. It was a great way to get extra visit time in and it meant that I didn't have to take as many days off!
Fast forward a few years to when I started my own business : I used to work from home quite often at the start but now only do it a morning/afternoon or two a week! My oh my, how the times have changed.
5 reasons why I stopped working from home
Alright now that you know a bit more about why I think that working from home is amazing and how I can say that from personal experience, here are 5 reasons why I rarely work from home anymore.
1. I'm an introvert who likes the presence of others
I connect with the definition that an introvert is "a person who gains energy from being alone and loses energy in stimulating environments, such as social events" (source). This means that I like being on my own and doing my work alone. BUT, I still enjoy being around other people while that happens! Working from a coffee shop or the library is a perfect solution for me because they are quiet spaces where everyone else is occupied with their own projects, but there's usually a good energy from others. I like knowing that I can get my work done "alone" without being alone (if that makes sense) and still feed off the vibes of others who are hard at work too.
2. It forces me to set time boundaries
Having a time limit is a really good thing for me because otherwise I can easily stretch out a task all day and night. I've written before about how much I enjoy working with the Pomodoro technique because it keeps me focused on one particular task or project, but basically any way that you limit the time available to get the work done is what you're aiming for here.
I try to arrive at a coffee shop most mornings by 8:30am and work through until about noon, at which time I break for lunch. You don't want to be that person who is creeping Facebook for ages in public, do you? Nope, and neither do I, which is why I get out of the house for a few hours and force myself to spend that time on real work.
Not only do these time limits make me more productive, they will keep me on-task and encourage me to stick to the time boundaries I've set in place. I'm not particularly interested in still being there at 7pm because I wasn't focused enough to get my work done, you know?
3. Found an easier way to batch tasks and work on related projects and creative work
Another reason why I love NOT working from home so often is that it actually helps me to create a more effective calendar and work schedule.
Meetings are a great example : as much as I can, I try to schedule several meetings for the same morning/afternoon, at which time I will stay home and crank through them all. This means that I don't have to work around different meetings throughout the day and work week, and it allows me to stay in a state of flow without distractions.
Same thing goes for creating video tutorials. I will often pick one morning/afternoon to batch several video recordings for my Youtube channel all at once, and then I can work on editing them, publishing their corresponding blog posts and sharing them on social media later from wherever I want.
4. I wanted to be more social during the daytime
When I first started working from home on the regular, I noticed that it could be a lonely routine if I wasn't careful. And as much as I like my "me" time, I don't want it 24/7!
In order to be more social during my work days, I rounded up a few friends/acquaintances and started co-working sessions! We meet regularly at various coffee shops and libraries around the city, usually in groups of two or more. The accountability has been awesome and I love having people to bounce ideas off of, even though most of us work in totally different industries. Plus it's nice to have someone to watch your table while you go for a refill and I love that we often tack on a workout or happy hour after a successful afternoon of co-working.
Another way that NOT working from home has made me more social during the workweek is that when I'm already out of the house, I'm way more likely to go any tech events or industry nights that I've planned on. These events usually take place right after the work day so I try to stop in on my way home. When I'm at home and it's a cold, rainy Vancouver evening, it can be hard to motivate myself to go to an event. But if I'm already out because I've been working from a coffee shop downtown all day? I'm wayyyyy more likely to actually attend the event or meetup.
5. I value separation between my work and living spaces
Many of my fellow freelancer and entrepreneur friends have told me how hard it is for them to close their laptops at the end of the day and truly turn off of work-mode. I'm totally guilty of this too! If I have my computer out at home, I'm way more likely to check my email, reply to a social media mention, or fiddle with a client project that's on my mind.
But here's the thing: when I'm not working, I don't actually WANT to see my notebook, to-do list, or design sketches. Those things take up mental energy and even their presence reminds me that a task isn't finished or that there's something else I could be doing to improve my business.
I don't have a designed "office" room in my apartment, just a workspace setup, so all the gear I use everyday for business and my personal life can easily get mixed up. This is inevitable, but I'd rather keep my living space as a place where I can unwind and enjoy my down time without constant reminders of work and professional projects.
Working from home is an amazing thing that I have LOVED at many points in my career - heck, I still do on occasion! But when I look at how I schedule my days, I definitely don't work from home as often as I used to.
Will that change in the future?
Yes, probably! I have some exciting work and travel planned for the new year so my routine will probably change, and I'm open to whatever works best in my new environment and situation! Stay tuned for exciting announcements on this in a few weeks ;)
Now it's your turn to tell me, do you work from home? Even if you an work from home, do you often find yourself working from other places instead? Do you have a home office or designated work space in your home? I'd love to know so leave me a note in the comments!
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