For many people, especially introverts like me, working from home sounds like a magical fairytale. No boss looking over your shoulder, no awkward conversations with coworkers, no rush hour traffic or microwaveable box lunches — paradise, right?
Not so fast. True, working from home has its pros, but here are five cons to keep in mind if you’re considering a work-from-home job.
1. You’re alone all day.
It’s not that I was unhappy. I had two dogs to keep me company. I just felt like I got more awkward as a result. Like most skills, people skills are strengthened with practice. And after I started working from home, I stopped getting practice.
What I do to cope: A couple times a month, I try to get lunch with a friend or colleague. It’s good to get out of the house and have a conversation with another human being.
2. You have to be a self-starter or you’ll fall behind.
My first few months working from home, I spent more time on my Xbox than I did on my laptop.
I had to learn that even though distractions were easily accessible, it was still work time. Short breaks were fine, but they couldn’t drag on all day. Even though no one was watching, I still had to be productive and finish my projects on time.
What I do to cope: I learned this one the hard way. After falling behind on work one too many times, I made a commitment to get my work done before taking time off for play.
3. Believe it or not, you’ll miss your commute.
I hate traffic as much as the next person, but there are days where I definitely miss driving to work.
My commute was a chance to listen to podcasts and audiobooks on apps like Playster and Audible. It was when I would call friends or relatives to catch up. And it gave me a buffer between work life and home life. All of that went away when I started working from home.
What I do to cope: I start and end most days with a walk around the neighborhood. It gives me time for podcasts and phone calls and helps me transition mentally.
4. You need to create boundaries between work and time off.
When you work from home, your house is your office. You are essentially always at work. This can be stressful and frustrating. It can be harder to unplug on nights and weekends.
What I do to cope: I try to work in a specific part of the house so I don’t associate the entire building with the pressures and stresses of my job. On nights and weekends, I put my laptop somewhere out of site, since it reminds me of work. I also occasionally go to coffeeshops to weaken the association between my house and my work.
5. Your friends and family will assume you’re free all the time.
People who don’t work from home just don’t understand. They expect you to run errands or hang out at 2pm on a Tuesday, even though you’re in the middle of your workday. They sometimes also assume you don’t work very hard, which can be irritating if you take pride in your work (like me).
What I do to cope: It took time, but after a few months of reminders, my wife and friends finally started to notice the first word in “working from home.”
Working from home can be great. I’ve now done it for almost three years, and I expect to keep doing it in the future. Just know that its pros come with cons (the biggest being…it’s still work). Of course, working in an office has drawbacks too. The key is, wherever you work, to be intentional and keep looking for opportunities to learn and grow.
Featured image from pexels.