I work from home.
The assumptions and connotations associated with that are countless. To set the record straight, here’s what it doesn’t mean: that I’m lazy, antisocial, unqualified, a lady of leisure or a daytime TV watcher.
Working from home wasn’t a distinct choice I made but simply a matter of circumstance – I was a freelance writer who got a job as an Editor of a magazine based in Sydney – one that required me to stay in Melbourne to attend events, meetings etc. This happened at the same time the online media and digital world started to boom, and working from home made perfect sense.
I often get asked if I get lonely, bored or unmotivated.
No, no and no.
I’ve never had a problem with motivation or discipline (of which you need both to work from home). And if you love what you do, then doing it shouldn’t be a problem. If anything, the one thing I have struggled with is switching off. Learning when to put an end to the working day. Not being tempted to answer that late email.
I do not get lonely or stir-crazy – social media, the telephone and Skype all mean I have constant contact with colleagues. In fact, I’m convinced I communicate more effectively, openly and frequently with colleagues that what would occur if I was in an office with them. I know many people that don’t communicate with colleagues two cubicles away and employees that only speak to their boss once every third day. I know exactly where my colleagues are and what they are working on in different states across Australia. I think it’s the distance that results in putting extra effort into communicating.
I’ve been working from home for a few years now, and it has only been in the last year that I’ve developed a strong routine that works for me.
I usually wake somewhere between 6am and 7am. Then, it’s a cup of tea, quick check on Twitter and Facebook, catch up on the morning news, walk the dog, have breakfast, a coffee, a shower and do any housework, washing etc. that needs to be done. My cut off for all of the above is 9am. It doesn’t matter if I’m halfway through something else, or haven’t got around to doing everything I wanted to, when 9am comes I switch off from ‘being home mode’, and enter ‘work mode’. I jump in front of the computer and work, work, work.
Somewhere between 12pm and 1pm, I stop. Have lunch. Maybe go to the post office, if required. Maybe hit the supermarket. Maybe go for a run. Take the dog for another walk. Chat to some friends. Read a magazine, or continue with a book. I never take more than an hour for ‘lunch’ – and it doesn’t matter what I do in that time, all that matters is that it’s not work.
After ‘lunch’, it’s back into the work – whatever that may be and whatever that requires (no two days are the same). I try to knock off from work somewhere between 5pm and 6pm.
I find that, when I am working, it’s without distractions and I get so much done.
Of course, there are variations on the above. If I have meetings, then I work around those. If I have an event on in the CBD, then I may finish up for the day at 4pm.
What I am thankful for when it comes to working from home is the flexibility – as long as I get my work done, it doesn’t really matter what timeframe that’s in or what I’m wearing behind my desk.
What I have learnt, however, is that a routine, much like one I’d have if I physically went into an office building each day, is the most effective way for me to work.
The routine above is a far cry from what I used to do – roll straight out of bed, jump in front of the computer and start work. Then look up and realise hours had passed and I was still in my onesie.
I stick to the routine above because it works for me. I need to set timeframes. I need to get dressed properly. I need my desk and home office to feel like one. I need that distinction between work and home.
Sure, it is a luxury not having to battle with a daily commute or share coffee mugs with co-workers, but it’s also taken me – and those around me – a while to figure out how to best make working from home work for me.
Some friends used to think I could dash off for a long lunch or half a day of shopping because I was home – something I was guilty of doing in the past. But I can’t afford – not with my workload – to be losing precious working hours on a weekday shopping or lunching.
Some friends still don’t get it. Often their idea of what I do is so far removed to what I actually do it’s hilarious.
The reality is, I get my job done.
Do you work from home? What’s your routine like? Do you work outside of 9am – 5pm hours? What’s the funniest assumption someone has made about your ‘not-the-norm’ working life?