With today's technology, it's easier than ever to work from home. Just about anything you'd need to work at your company's office can now be accessed through the cloud, and even phone calls can be rerouted to your mobile phone.
I have a couple of friends making the transition from one to the other. One who is re-entering the world of office work after several years of working from home, and another whose company is moving her job to a work-from-home position.
Both have expressed anxiety about the big changes.
The one returning to an office had a moment of doubt when she realized she could no longer work in her pajamas and might need to buy a couple of new suits. Also, she realized midday napping might be slightly more difficult without a couch within a few feet of her desk.
The friend who found herself homeward bound had equal concerns about her change in environment. What if something goes wrong? Who do I turn to? Also, will I get lonely without co-workers to chat with?
All are valid concerns. And now that I’ve spent two consecutive days snowed in and working from my home office, I can better empathize with those concerns and have some observations of my own about the perks and perils of working from home.
The pajamas are a plus.
The only thing better than being able to wear a comfy pair of pajamas to work is being able to roll right out of bed in those pajamas and walk down the stairs to work.
Yes, the commute is pretty sweet and lets me sleep in an extra half-hour by eliminating grooming and drive time.
Eliminating the drive time also saves gas money, and if you aren’t a wash-and-wear gal like me, I suppose it would also cut down on your dry cleaning bill.
While I’m sure many bosses picture their staff goofing off when working from home, I find the lack of distractions a boon to my productivity. I tend to get to work and stay at work.
There’s no chatter from co-workers to distract you – not that I’m eavesdropping, of course.
There’s no water cooler to get caught up in a lengthy conversation at – and oh yeah, if you get backed into a corner by me at the water cooler, it’s gonna be a long conversation. I’m a talker.
But no distractions can be a bummer, if you’re looking for some.
As a writer, mind block can be a real problem. Sometimes that refreshing banter gets the cobwebs cleared out of my head and my brain back in gear.
Also, if I have a dumb question, which I quite often do, there’s usually a co-worker that I can quickly query rather than getting bogged down in a long search for the answer online.
It’s also a bit lonely.
While sometimes it can be a little annoying when someone is talking loudly in one of the neighboring cubicles or your office mate is a ridiculously loud typist. You’d be surprised how quickly you can miss that background noise.
You can get bored really easy without that human interaction, and let me tell you – cats make terrible co-workers.
My co-workers have never decided to get into a fight over a box of manila envelopes while I was in the middle of a phone interview. Neither have they stuck their nose in my coffee or sat on my keyboard while I was trying to type.
Sometimes we fail to appreciate the courtesies our human cohorts show us at the office. No one is currently sharpening their claws on the back of my chair.
Lastly, the biggest perk of working in your home is also the biggest drag.
The home and the office are the same.
When I put out the call at the end of the day for some much needed, right-up-against-deadline interviews Wednesday night, a few came back after 5 p.m.
It was no big deal to take the calls. I was sitting there at my home desk anyway and I was sure grateful they called with the information that I needed.
If I had been at work, I likely would have missed those calls because I needed to get home.
The downside of already being in your office is that some people will take advantage of that.
In a previous position, my husband was working out of our home office and dealt with customers most of the day. No problem. Except some of his customers worked weird hours.
Some people started early and had no problem calling him at 5 or 6 in the morning to ask questions or place orders, but others worked later and would try calling him as late as 11 at night.
Yes, he could screen his calls to weed out those that clearly weren’t emergencies, but being awakened by calls the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night is no way to make a living.
Still, it’s often the life of the work-from-homer – when your office is your home, you never leave work.