I work full-time from home. I’m not a freelancer, but a full-time employee for a home-based business. Our company was founded in the 80s by a single mother of an infant. She set up shop in her home and hired some staff. She needed to pay the bills but also needed flexibility and thus, allowed her staff to have that same benefit. Today, our company is headquartered in a lovely ground-floor office in downtown Hartford. Our administrative staff and senior leaders work from there, but most staff don’t have dedicated desks. We can ‘hotel’ in or convene for meetings.
When I joined the company a few years ago, it was on the heels of 10 years of working in an office. Even though I had anywhere from decent to great experiences with colleagues and work pants, I was quite starry-eyed with the prospect of working from home. Good riddance – no more ironing! No more making a lunch, packing a gym bag, commuting, or paying for parking.
Generally, I enjoy the freedom of working from home, but it’s got its drawbacks. Here are a few of my pros and cons:
Pro: Wear Whatever the Hell I Want
I’m not one to hang in my jammies all day. I always take a shower and do my hair, but I enjoy dressing casual every day. I’m wearing cords with boots and a flannel today, and I may even wear this tomorrow! My mama taught me “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have”, which is deeply ingrained. So even though the office dress code is biz-casual, I feel compelled to class it up when I go in. I enjoy looking nice, but I don’t need to do it Monday-Friday. I swear, as soon as I put on a skirt, one kid hugs me and leaves a cream cheese handprint on my ass, and the other drips toothpaste on my knee. And ironing!? Why is ironing even still a thing?
Con: Workday Never Truly Ends
Most days, I sit down to work after I drop my kids off at school/daycare. I generally work all morning, maybe go to an appointment. At lunch I eat quickly in the dining room; once in a while I’ll go for a quick run. Then back to my office in the afternoon until it’s time to pick up my children. We do activities, dinner, baths, and books. After they’re in bed, I usually return to work, sometimes in my office or with Dave on the couch while he watches t.v. Not only is my 40 hour workweek regularly chipped away with various appointments, teacher conferences, or picking up my house before the cleaner arrives, but our consulting world is deadline-driven, and those deadlines don’t care what time of day it is. Like many other mamas, I work the split shift. I miss my former office job where I worked a solid day, left by 5:30, and didn’t do ANY work until 8:30 the next morning, thanks to fewer responsibilities, no advent of smartphones, and shoddy remote connections. Work was work, home was home, and never the two did meet. I suspect it’ll be a tough road to get that work model (and life balance) back.
Pro: Paninis On the Menu
My BFF can attest: a favorite perk of working from home is making paninis. This seems so basic but I love making a warm sandwich on our panini press. Eat lunch at 11am? Why not, there’s no one here to judge me. I visit my kitchen throughout the day to pick a snack, make tea, or warm up coffee. I can eat on the back patio on sunny spring days, or adjust the thermostat on chilly fall days. I can blast a podcast or Spotify as I please, without worrying if I’m bothering someone else. There’s no frivolous banter at the copy machine or nearby conference calls to talk above. Yes, I enjoy having environmental control.
Con: Loneliness Sinks In
I’m a social creature, and working from home can get lonely. This arrangement would’ve been far from satisfying in my 20s, when I was looking to make friends, date, and explore the walls beyond work at the end of the day. Now I have a great group of friends, neighbors, and family nearby so I can deal without the social benefits of colleagues. But I definitely miss having coworkers that know me well, and with whom I can easily commiserate. Sure, I know my colleagues to varying degrees. Sometimes we’re in the trenches together, albeit virtually. With a team remotely based, it takes a lot longer to get to know people, to build trust, and to feel that sense of camaraderie that often makes the long hours worth it.
Pro: Flexibility for Our Kids
I can be home for my kids on the myriad holidays, sick days, snow days, and doctor appointment days. I may not be the most present parent or most attentive worker, but on those days, I’m doing both just good enough.
Con: Stunted Potential
Ultimately, I believe the low visibility inherent to working remotely is detrimental to my earning potential and ability to rise through the ranks; I may be working every night, but no one sees me as the last one to leave the office.
I could go on. There are two sides to this coin. Somedays I love it, other days I hate it. What about you – do you work from home? Wish you did? Loathe or relish every minute of it?