The Home Office – a brief catalogue

Don’t worry, this post has nothing to do with staplers or other office supplies – although I am still enjoying my “personal trimmer.”  I’ve been thinking a lot about the differences between my working life now (at home) and my working life then (in an actual workplace/office).  Pretty much they are what you’d expect from such a change:

  • I am happier and more relaxed
  • As a result Thomas is happier and more relaxed
  • I make a whole lot less money
  • I work a lot more hours – but it doesn’t feel like I work a whole lot more hours

And there are the things that people tell you will happen when you start working from home, and guess what? People are right:

  • I have a really hard time – let me just stress that again, REALLY HARD TIME – separating the home and the work.  Both bleed into each other. When I’m working, part of my brain is berating me for not having done the dishes yet, or reminding me the dog needs to go out soon. When I’m doing the dishes or making dinner, another part of my brain is trying to figure out a solution to a particularly convoluted portion of code I’m writing, or designing a new headband, or telling me that design element I just finished isn’t quite perfect, or saying “hey, why don’t you start a line of greeting cards? wouldn’t that be fun? you should probably go sketch them now.”
  • Understandably this makes it very difficult to just sit and relax, or, you know, SLEEP, which carries over into annoyance for Thomas. I think if you asked him this would be his only complaint (um, I hope?) about my new working arrangement – that sometimes he’d like to tie me to a chair… uh, you know what I mean.
  • So, basically, yeah: working from home may exacerbate your crazy! They should really print that warning on the label.  Just this week I explained to Thomas that when I don’t wave goodbye to him from the window of the apartment in the morning as he rides away on his bike, that I’m convinced that something horrible will happen to him that day, which is why he’s greeted by the emails demanding he confirm his safety when he arrives at work.  When I finished, Thomas was all, “you realize you’re describing symptoms of OCD right?” and I was all, “oh believe me, I am VERY well acquainted with the symptoms of OCD.”

To get to my actual point though, there are upsides and downsides (and b-sides!) to working from home that I did not expect – that nobody told me about, that I didn’t read about, so I thought I’d write about them so that YOU can read about them, and add them to your pro/con list if you’re considering entering the ranks.

Here are some upsides:

  • Number one perk: YOUR OWN BATHROOM. I should stop there, but I’m not going to! Hey, if Oprah can talk about it, can’t I? Yes, I can.  Having your own bathroom… using exclusively your own bathroom… is awesome, and really, really good for you, you know, regularity-wise.  I think my metabolism has sped up for this reason alone. My apartment has TWO bathrooms, with doors, locks, fans, no strangers’ germs, and during the day they are ALL MINE BABY.  And that is where I’m going to stop.
  • Chores – even though they do intrude in your work headspace – are great because they force you out of that headspace.  Every day around 11 am, Piper makes it aggravatingly obvious that she would like to be taken to the park NOW PLEASE.  And I groan at her, because I’m almost done this one thing and couldn’t she please wait five more minutes? But she can’t – so we go and play in the park, and she runs around like a crazoid, and mostly? It’s the best part of my workday.
  • Being here to receive packages, and phone calls, and all that other stuff that happens at home when usually you’re at work – no more Canada Post failed-delivery slips in your mailbox saying “no answer – please pick up from this location at this time which is in no way convenient for you”; no more messages on your machine saying “please give us a call back at your convenience – we are only open when you are at the office, so this will be an impossible task for you to complete”; and if the plumber needs to come in at 10 am? no more problems.

Here are some downsides:

  • My number one on this list, and the list of everyone else who knows me, is social isolation.  This is something my parents started worrying about before I even started working from home, and something my friends back east all get concerned about when I make cracks about having long involved conversations with my puppy.  And I guess I admit it’s not UNconcerning to me either…  we don’t know a whole lot of people out here, and several days can go by and apart from my online interactions, I’ve only really talked to Thomas.  Because I’m not a super-social person to begin with, this is something I’m working on, and trying to guard against.  I’ve instigated regular in-person meetups with the Etsy team I belong to, and Thomas and I go hang out in the ceramics studio at Place des arts in Coquitlam twice a week, which is a start.
  • My wardrobe pretty much consists of sweats and pajama pants.  Although I strictly adhere to my former standards of personal hygiene, my dressing habits have pretty much gone down the tubes, and you know? I kind of mourn them.  I was the girl in university who refused to leave the house wearing anything more casual than jeans – and certainly not without makeup.  Now? I’m very fond of hats.  They disguise bedhead very well.  And my sushi pajama bottoms? They’re educational! Why wouldn’t I wear them out on the back lawn with the puppy?  Because all my days are like Ms. Casual Takes a Vacation, I’ve instituted dress-up Fridays at my workplace, so that at least one day a week, I make a real effort.
  • This one I pretty much can’t stress enough, and goes hand-in-hand with the social thing: No one’s going to tell you you’re cool. At least not at first, and probably not when you most need it (which is when you’re sitting here by yourself, staring at a screen full of crap that you just produced, and are thinking “What the h*** am I doing??!!”).  I’m not embarrassed to admit I need a lot of positive reinforcement to feel good about what I’m producing.  Us creative types can be such insecure boobs.  On my bad days, Thomas can come pretty close to losing his sh** (I’m not allowed to swear right now, more on that later) trying to make up for a staff-load of people telling me my work is worthwhile.  Being a one-man cheer-squad can be taxing, and he is awesome – even if his high kick leaves something to be desired (height…).
  • To finish of this portion of the list, let me just say the following:  You can’t get as much done in a single day as you THINK you can.  No, you can’t, trust me.  This is a hard truth to accept when you’re first operating under your own steam.

And finally, the b-sides:

  • I don’t actually have any b-sides.  I was just being cute. *twinkle!*

So there you have it – maybe some things you hadn’t considered about working from home.  I wouldn’t change what I’m doing right now for anything, because I believe that it will fundamentally change our lives for the better – BUT, there are some caveats, and more things than I expected that need to be made allowances. Probably this list will be ongoing as my work-from-home experience develops, but for now, I’d say I’m off to a pretty good start.

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One Comment

  1. Posted April 29, 2010 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Haha – height!

    Being unemployed I can totally relate to all of thist. As much as I know I NEED to rejoin the ranks of productive society I’ve gotten so comfortable in my laissez faire non-routine that the idea of actually going to work every day is kind of a bummer. But man, I need to shake this laziness off! I can’t say I’ve been nearly as productive as you have, Lex. Again, I’m really impressed because I don’t know that I have the self discipline to be productive when left to my own devices. Also, you need to sign onto skype more so we can catch up! We both sit in front of computers all day, there’s no good reason for this lack of communication. :)

One Trackback

  1. By patrick on July 28, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    carols@boarded.prestige” rel=”nofollow”>.…


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