Amidst all of the concern and contagion of the coronavirus, my office, like many other offices in the US, recently began weighing the benefits and detriments of working from home. Luckily, my team can easily complete our jobs from our couches, so the transition job-wise has been fairly seamless. But working from home is still a huge change for me. We spend at least a third of our day in the office, after all. I know my office. I’m comfortable there. I’ve set up my desk with all of the things I love seeing every day and my office chair is wide enough that I can sit cross-legged. My home is also a comfortable place for me to be, but I’m just not used to working there full-time.
As an extrovert, the prospect of working at home has always terrified me. I spend much of my day at other people’s desks, whether that be to solve an issue that they are having or chatting about our weekends. I am a people-oriented person who finds relationships to be the most important thing in life, so I strive to form strong bonds with those around me. Without seeing my coworkers every day, we may not have a reason to carve out time for a phone call, so we will most likely not be interacting as frequently. And I cannot stress enough how much I hate talking on the phone. I can’t read the person’s facial expressions, I can’t read their body language, I don’t know if they’re about to say something and I’m interrupting them…it’s the worst. Walking around and chatting with my coworkers is the most rewarding part of my day, and I’m worried that, without that part of my job, I won’t enjoy my day as much. Plus, visiting others’ desks kept me moving around throughout the day. Now, I’ll need to be more cognizant of how much or how little I’m moving and actively try to get up and move around at least a bit.
I also struggle when there’s no one around, even if only just to exist in the same space that I am. One of the largest pieces of proof that I have of my extroversion is that I crave having people near me at all times. It’s just comforting for me to have someone there. In college, I was constantly inviting people over to just do homework together so that I didn’t have to be alone. I’m sure you can see why I find the idea of forced isolation to be stressful! Leaving my office on my last day before working from home was like leaving school for summer vacation. We said almost-tearful goodbyes and I’ll-see-you-again-soons without really knowing when we’d be back. My sentimental side was coming out, as it is wont to do.
I have tried to prepare myself to face the unique challenges that I knew working from home would pose. As of right now, I don’t really have a definitive workspace or a desk. I’ve been working from my couch with my laptop either on my lap or on a tray table in front of me. Dan has mentioned the possibility of getting me a desk so that I can comfortably work or write or record my podcast, and I think it’s a great idea. While I have excellent “bed hygiene” and do not do my work from my bed, using the couch for work may be bad “couch hygiene.” I don’t have this workspace created yet and don’t know when it will be done, but I’d imagine that it will help me get in the zone much better than my couch and comfy blanket.
As documented in my post about celebrating the small victories I achieved last year, I recently (by some miracle), have begun mentally leaving my work in the office and not bringing it home with me. While work has been very stressful for me as of late, I have tried my hardest to not allow that work stress to come home with me at night and invade my personal life and mental space. This time spent working from home will be an interesting test to see if I can keep this separation while blurring the line between home and office. It may be more challenging to see if I can learn to maintain those boundaries while working from home, but it would be an excellent skill to have!
Speaking of boundaries, one of my goals during this time is to remember to restrict my work to only my working hours. When going into an office, it can be a bit easier to maintain definitive start and end times for my work and separate my work life from my home life. While working from home, it’s been much easier for my work life to start seeping into my home life. Just an extra half hour here and there will really start adding up if I let them. Just like if I was working in the office, I’m going to try to only work during my shift unless someone explicitly asks me to work longer. I’m going to force myself to start work exactly at my start time, end exactly at my end time, and take an hour for lunch in the middle of the day. I owe it to myself to maintain my work/life balance.
I should mention that, while I am aware of how challenging working from home will be, I am grateful for this opportunity to give it a shot. As a writer, most of my freelance jobs can be done from home. I’m also starting life coaching school this week, and I can do life coaching from home as well. With the opportunities for remote work only growing, it’s important for me to know if it is something I can actually do and if I can thrive this way, but I also know that I would never have chosen to try this on my own due to the aforementioned extroverted needs.
There are also obvious bonuses to working from home that I’m glad that I’ll have for a while. Who doesn’t want to sleep in and not commute to work!? Now I have more time in my day to be productive or relax where I won’t be stuck sitting in traffic! Not to mention that I can wear whatever I want when working from home. My most recent motto has become “NO PANTS!” said, of course, with my hands enthusiastically thrown into the air.
As our world continues to evolve, we are presented with new challenges. As an extrovert, I never thought I would be able to work from home full-time, but now I have the opportunity to actually try it, whether I want to or not. I’m excited to see how I adapt to working from home and what I learn from this experience. I’m also excited to wear pants as little as possible. Because, you know, pants.
I hope that you and your family are able to stay safe and healthy at this time and forever! Remember, indoors is the best place to be!
Photography by my talented fiancé. You can find him on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/hope_grows_here/