When I tell people I work from home, I usually get one of a few skeptical reactions:
- “I could never do that, I’d never get anything done”
- “Wow, that’s awesome! You get paid to sit at home?”
- “But… that means you never stop working”
- “No pants!” I’m Scottish, so let’s clarify that “pants” in the States refer to what we call “trousers” in the UK. Not that I am judging you if you work with no UK-type pants on. It’s your sofa.
None of these are true. There are grains of truth everywhere, but working from home is so much more than cat gifs, naps, and sweatpants. It’s also less than 24/7 screen time (thank goodness).
- It’s challenge. Every day.
Working from home is far from an easy option. There can be a whole host of different distractions. Sure, you might not be dealing with constant office chatter, but what about all the things that catch your eye, or need done in the house? if you have kids at home, they will be begging for attention, if you're childless and pet-less, you might feel like a lonesome hermit from time to time. You have to be able to keep yourself motivated all day, every day. Good planning, motivation and organisation are the WFH super-powers.
- People think you are slacking
This is an annoying one. I work a split shift, meaning I am out and about in the middle of the day. If I had a pound for everytime someone has asked me if I “actually work”, I wouldn’t need to work.
- You think you are slacking
Despite updating your team constantly via your slack status, emails, and messages, if you are anything like me, you will probably question your own work ethic from time to time. “Shoot, I took half an hour to vacuum — people will think I am slacking, am I doing enough?”
As a rule of thumb, if you are asking yourself whether you are doing enough, the chances are you have very little to worry about.
To successfully work from home, you need a few things.
- A thick skin
People can say what they like. At the end of the day, if you and your boss, are both satisfied with your work, then it’s all good.
You can always suggest to critics that they give it a whirl. They might find it’s harder than it looks.
- The ability to multi-task, focus, and plan
If you can successfully navigate distractions, stay focused and plan your day and time to work for you, you don’t deserve criticism — you deserve a medal.
- Great communication skills
You have to build and maintain relationships with people you rarely see in person. Easier said than done. Your written skills need to be off the chart - you need to be clear and concise and communicate effectively often without seeing someone’s face or body-language. Remote work means documenting everything - a skill which is incredibly useful.
- The ability to switch off
Joking aside, this is one of the most important skills to master. It is hard to leave the office and walk into the evening sunset if your desk is in your bedroom, living room, or kitchen. For most people, the challenge of working from home is not the challenge of doing ENOUGH work — it’s figuring out when to STOP working.
Do yourself a favour. Set a hard stop time. Track your hours and remind yourself that just because you work from home, that doesn’t mean you have to work round the clock in order to prove yourself. You are doing awesome.
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