August 20, 2015

Working From Home: Expectations vs. Reality

The other day, I was on a call for work with an Examiner at the Patent Office. (They're who I argue with all day, so this lady was sort of my frenemy.) Halfway through the call, she asked me if I could please hold on, moments before I heard a bit of clattering and foot pounding, then the distinct sound of a woman doing one of those "I'm not raising my voice so I'm not technically yelling but this is actually way scarier" almost-yells.

When she got back on the phone a few seconds later, she apologized and told me that "sometimes, it's so hard working from home. I can hear my husband, in-laws, and baby downstairs like they forget I'm up here working. I had to go remind them that, hey, I'm getting paid to do this, you know?"

I did know. And for a minute, we took the "nemy" out of frenemy because as a newly self-employed work-from-homer, I too understood the somewhat first world problems of working a staircase away from your kitchen.

I'm not going to lie; it's awesome to have the freedom of nap taking or sun bathing on your lunch hour. But like anything else, there are pros and cons to the Great American Dream of working in your underwear. And just like everything else, sometimes reality doesn't exactly meet your expectations.

Expectation: You'll have tons more time to do things you couldn't do as a cubicle dweller.
Reality: For the past two weeks, I've woken up feeling like I have loads of time for thing-doing because I no  longer commute. But in reality, I only have about an hour more. And if you're not careful, that hour can go pretty quickly lingering over breakfast and going to Publix in the evening because you "just have so much time." And before you know it, you don't have so much time, and don't get around to blogging in almost a week.

Expectation: You'll take work calls in your pajamas.
Reality: You'll take work calls in your pajamas. And it will be awesome for about three days, until you feel like the biggest, laziest glub who is always five steps away from going back to bed. And when you finally can't even take yourself seriously, you end up putting on clothes anyway. (Although I do admit that yoga pants do beat pencil skirts by a mile.)

Expectation: Life will be awesome when you don't share the kitchen fridge with Wanda from Marketing.
Reality: At first, it is awesome to be making legit meals for lunch instead of a ziplock-baggied-PB&J. But again, after three days, you begin getting stir crazy spending all day by yourself, and sort of start missing Wanda and her stinky tuna fish. And being stir crazy can make you do things you never thought you'd do, like CrossFit, just to talk to real live people.

Expectation: You'll get too distracted by daytime television to get anything done.
Reality: Yeah, you have the freedom to watch Jerry Springer instead of doing work. But Jerry doesn't pay very well, so you end up doing work anyway. And because your desk is never more than a staircase away, you sometimes end up working even longer than usual because there's no janitor turning off the lights and telling you to go home.

Expectation: It could be the best or the worst career decision you've ever made.
Reality: This expectation is true, and not only because extremely open-ended expectations always end up being true. You can either take advantage of all your new found flexibility and freedom, or you can become a stir crazy couch bum who is way too vested in someone else's pregnancy details. Because working from home is just like any other opportunity in your life: it is what you make it.