Want to know what it’s REALLY like working from home? Read this.
Right now, I’m sitting at my desk in my home office. I’m slurping a green smoothie and listening to the faint traffic outside of my window. There’s a candle burning and I’m trying to resist every urge not to check my phone for what feels like the 20th time this morning but I’m here – and I’m committed to penning these words for you.
Years ago, I *dreamed* of having a work day like this. One where I could do what I love (coach incredible women and write!) and have the freedom and flexibility to build and create my own career. Back when I was sitting at my office cubicle, and throughout my hour long bus/walk commute – I only hoped that one day this would become a reality for me. Now as I move into my 4th year of ‘working from home’ life, I have lots to share in the hopes that if this is part of your career dream? It will give you a glimpse into what it’s *really* like so you can decide whether it’s for you!
There’s a difference…
Can I first share that there’s a difference between working from home for someone else and working solely for yourself (whether that’s as a creative, coach, freelancer…).
My experience working from home has been a combination of paid employment (where I have a clear job description/set tasks and a regular paycheck working remotely) alongside my coaching business (where I have full creative reign and receive payment through my 1:1 service offerings, speaking etc). As you can imagine, the perks and the challenges of my work/life structure may be different to someone who is relying solely on themselves and/or a business to generate their income.
Money and the topic of sustainability is a WHOLE other topic when it comes to building a business working from home, but for the purpose of this blog post? I hope it clears away some of those misconceptions incase you were wondering, “But how does one magically LIVE and survive and start doing what they love?” Ha!
Nowadays more and more employers are offering flexible working arrangements where you have the option to work from home a few times week, not to mention the increasing number of digital roles that can be performed remotely which can only be a good thing. For now? Allow me to dive into my very own pro’s and con’s recap that comes with living a ‘work from home’ lifestyle.
+ Working from home has allowed me to do work that fuels me creatively. It means I get to use my writing and coaching skills and choose how I best want to use them, collaborate with others and create events and connect with people from all corners of the globe via this magical thing called the internet. How cool?!
+ When I was living interstate and away from family, I could jump on a plane, go visit them and still be able to work and earn money, rather than the quick fly in and out. Not having to worry about taking time off for special occasions like weddings, birthday’s and still be able to travel or spend time with the people that I love has been one of the biggest perks!
+ Choosing to move back to Melbourne and not having to stress about finding work was such a relief! Whilst any move can be exhausting, I’ve loved that I’ve been able to transition back into my working routine as gently as possible. There’s been minimal disruption because it’s all systems go as usual (Laptop – check. Internet – check. Cup of tea – check!)
+ Even though it’s just me and my laptop most days, a large part of my work involves connecting and working alongside others which aligns with one of my most important values – connection! As part of my contract work, I still get to engage and work as part of a team, and the meaningful conversations and Skype calls that I have with clients fuels my connection cup.
+ Going to the post office. Ducking to the supermarket to grab a few things for dinner during the day. Being able to catch up for lunch dates with fellow ‘work from home’ friends or curl up and work from my bed when my cycle is here – I’m so very grateful to have this kind of flexibility and save time/energy not having to commute during peak hours.
+ Productivity levels can actually soar when working away from the distractions of a busy office. With no interruptions and the ability to choose your surroundings (you can play music if you want to or not, stretch every hour and yes – wear yoga pants!), it can be the perfect foundation to produce some of your best work.
Ok, Now The Con’s…
+ When you’re riding solo – there’s no one to tap you on the shoulder to say, “Ok Tash, time for a break and some fresh air now!” Yes you have to be motivated to get work done, but what has challenged me the most is finding that ‘balance’ and actually switching off. When your work place is anywhere you have an internet connection (um… everywhere?!), it’s been so important for me to create solid boundaries within myself to enjoy ‘work time’ and ‘Tash time’ and define what ‘enough’ looks like for me in terms of productivity.
+ Working in your pj’s in Winter sounds wonderful right? And I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t done it a handful of times, but there is something to be said about your energy, your mood and your work ethic when you take pride in your physical appearance and surroundings. I always work best when I’m fully dressed (and showered!), and have a designated home office to work from. Even if you’re highly motivated, you’re the only one who can muster up that inspiration and follow through on those helpful habits.
+ Believe it or not, I kinda miss the commute? I miss the ritual of being able to walk into work and come ‘home’ from work, instead of just closing my laptop or shutting the door to my home office. It creates that separation. Plus, how easy is it to spend a cheeky few hours scrolling through your phone of a night time when you’ve supposedly ‘logged off’ *doh!*
+ You know all that freedom? Well… sometimes it can be paralysing. Having TOO much choice as to what to do and create can result in major procrastination and negative self-talk. I’ve had to make sure that my self-criticism doesn’t get the better of me – daily – and even though there’s more than enough time to go to that yoga class at lunch, sometimes you end up guilt tripping yourself into working harder (#notcool!) Self-care is a must to not only prevent burn out working from home, but it’s been crucial to keep myself energised so I can continue to ENJOY the very thing that I love to do.
+ It can be lonely. I confess there’s been plenty of times when I’ve gone an entire day without talking to anyone except for when Jimmy comes home. And as an extrovert? I don’t need loads of contact, but I do need some form of it everyday to keep me sane. (Hey pigeon…wait! Come back!)
+ After work drinks? Christmas parties? That TGIF feeling? That sense of community and the celebratory factor of getting through the work week (no matter how much you love what you do) is limited when it’s just yours truly. I’ve had to be more proactive to initiate and create those kind of experiences and luckily I have a great network of peeps who are only a call or message away who can share my wins or commiserate with me. It’s still not the same as having a beloved ‘work wife’ telling you to switch off and enjoy the weekend (because she knows you better than you do!)
My final words of wisdom if you’re considering/dreaming/currently working from home…
+ Take care of yourself. Choose healthy habits. Get outside. Have a proper lunch! Basic I know, but essential.
+ Create some form of ritual or structure in your day so you don’t constantly feel like a blob who stares out the window. Use a calendar and diary to schedule your tasks, get some accountability if you need to, prioritise physical appointments such as a gym class, or a regular meet up/co-work day – any kind of structure will actually set you up to work with more focus, more flow and more freedom.
+ Ask for help and check back in with your needs. Awhile ago, I was feeling really bogged down by the 4 walls that I was working in. The only way I could describe it was… soul crushing. Intense, I know! But it was the catalyst to figuring out what was working and wasn’t for me. Build a healthy support system of people that you can communicate with openly and that can be a positive sounding board for you. No matter how introverted or extroverted you are – people need people.
It’s easy to become enticed by the ‘freedom based lifestyles’ that are portrayed through social media and get major FOMO. I certainly used to, but now that I’ve experienced the ‘other side’, I have an even bigger appreciation for the many different ways we can create our own meaningful and fulfilling working lives.
Rarely when it comes to job satisfaction do we consider the implications of our environment, which is why my approach to career coaching takes into consideration your values, the skill set and strengths that you want to utilise, alongside the environment and culture that will see you thrive the most.
I’d love to know whether you’ve ever dreamed of working from home? Or perhaps you already do? If so, is it what you expected? It’s clearly not for everyone but I invite you to share your thoughts in the comments below. And if you’d like some guidance on transitioning into a life and career that feels ‘right’ for you – that takes into consideration YOU as a whole person – do get in touch!