If you are thinking about working from home or if you recently started, I want you to know what it’s like and be aware of some things that might help make your transition easier.
I didn’t do much research on working from home before I started.
And, that’s probably because I didn’t know I was going to end up working from home.
It just sort of happened.
My boyfriend at the time (now he’s my husband!) had a great work opportunity and I wanted to go with him, but I didn’t want to give up my job.
So I pitched the idea of working remotely to my company (complete with a proposal and reference articles on why I could do it!), and they agreed.
Honestly, I would say they reluctantly agreed because they weren’t excited about it, but they didn’t want to lose me either.
A few weeks after that we moved 4+ hours away for my husband’s new job and I started working remotely.
Looking back I wish I had done more research about the emotional/mental aspect of transiting to a work-from-home job.
I did a lot of research on why it was good for the company and the employee (to help with my proposal and prove my points of course!), but I didn’t do much research on what it felt like to work from home and what I should expect in the transition.
In turn, I don’t think I was as mentally prepared as I should have been. I probably thought I was, but I wasn’t.
Which is what prompted this article.
If you are considering working from home, either transitioning from a current office job or taking a new job where you would be a full-time remote employee, these are four things I think you should know.
Working from home can be lonely
Working from home by yourself is just that…lonely. You are often alone all day and don’t talk to anyone.
Before my daughter was born I sometimes didn’t talk to another adult for hours since my husband leaves for work early in the morning.
You just don’t realize how lonely working from home can be until you start doing it.
So, I would encourage you to both mentally prepare for that change in human interaction, and also find ways to get human interaction.
Maybe you work from your favorite local coffee shop once a week in the mornings. Or, maybe you go into the office once a week if it’s only an hour or two away.
Or you go out for lunch with a friend or your significant other.
Just something to make it less lonely.
Anything simple that gets you out of the house for a little bit can help combat the loneliness you are likely to feel when you make the transition (especially in the beginning or if you are coming from an office environment).
You may have to force yourself to leave the house
I’m not even joking. There are times (especially in the winter) when I don’t leave the house for days.
And, that’s not a good thing.
Among other things getting out and about is good for your mind and body. Changing up your environment, getting fresh air, human interaction, Vitamin D from the sun, etc.
When you go into an office every day these things often just happen naturally throughout the day. But, if you work from home you have to create those opportunities for yourself.
Now that I’ve been at this whole work-from-home thing for a while now, I recognize when I need to get out of the house.
I make it a point to go run some errands in the morning or afternoon, even if it’s just a simple trip to the grocery store or the post office.
Or, I’ll try to take a walk in the afternoon or go to the park with my daughter after I’m done working for the day.
Something intentional to get me out of the house for a little bit.
If you can work from home outside sometimes too, that’s great!
Grab a cup of coffee and set up outside for the morning for an hour or two. Answer emails and soak up that Vitamin D on your porch or patio.
Working from home can have a lot of distractions
If you have a family this is even more exemplified. Your kids or wife or husband will interrupt you throughout the day just because you are home now and they can.
It’s probably not even something people think about at first.
But, it can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you are working on something important or a deadline.
So you may need to set some guidelines or expectations for your household if you are transitioning to working from home.
This is where having a separate office/workspace with a door helps.
When I first transitioned to working remotely, my husband would come to talk to me as soon as he got home and tell me about his day or what he was up to.
But, the thing is his workday ends around 3:30 pm…not when mine does.
Eventually, we came to the understanding that if my office door was closed when he came home, I was actively working or on a phone call and didn’t want to be bothered. But, if my door was open then he was welcome to come in and talk to me.
It sounds simple, but it helped us both adjust to the fact that I was home all day, but I still needed to work and not be bothered at times too.
You still need to take breaks throughout the day
Taking a break at the office is a lot easier than you think.
A coworker might stop by your workspace to chat for 5 minutes or ask you out to lunch that day. You might go to the breakroom to eat lunch or for an afternoon cup of coffee.
There are typically lots of opportunities to take a break at the office.
At home, though, you have to force yourself to take a break sometimes.
There’s no one stopping by to ask you out to lunch or how that concert was over the weekend. You have to create your own breaks and sometimes that’s easier said than done.
Now that I’ve been at it for so long I recognize when I need to take a break. Maybe my mind starts to wander or I can’t focus on what I need to do. So I stop for 10 minutes and do something else.
I talk about this a little in my Work From Home Tips blog post from last month, but the 90/20 rule can be a great thing to apply if you are working from home.
You work for 90 minutes and then take a break for 20 minutes. Simple enough!
Not everything on this list is bad, but everything on this list is something you should be aware of if you are considering a work-from-home job.
If you work for a larger corporation that will probably make your transition a little easier as they often have tools in place already regarding working from home.
But in my case, I was the first person at my company to start working from home so it was an adjustment.
Now that I’m 5+ years into working from home I feel like I finally understand what it’s like, but it took me at least a year or two to get fully comfortable with it.
And, I would say it probably took the small business I work for about that long to adjust too.
No matter your situation, just be prepared for the mental and emotional changes working from home can have on your life.