Working from home isn’t for everyone.
As workplaces had to adapt to shelter-in-place orders, so did its workforce. For some of us, the transition was seamless. For others, a nightmare.
While there are many factors to the failure or success of one working from home, there are two specific factors that I think contributed to my success.
First, I have no small children. I think out of all the factors, having small, or school-aged children, immediately makes working from home difficult or not productive. I am at a point in my life where my only child is in college. He doesn’t require, nor expects, my undivided attention. I don’t have to interrupt work to entertain him, or make him lunch. I think having to divide one’s attention between work and childcare will almost always result in inefficient work. It’s just inevitable. I think a lot of people struggled with trying to balance work and childcare. I was not in this category.
Second, I don’t like people. Maybe there is a better way to phrase that, but put bluntly. I don’t like people. Again, I think that puts me in the minority. Generally speaking, most people need human interaction. Because I was raised with so little of it (seriously can count on two hands how many times I recall being hugged by my parents), it is not something that rates high on my emotional needs. In fact, the further away people stay from me, the happier I am.
So, what did I learn from my time working from home?
I’ve been healthier.
I am a very sickly person. I am a Type 2 diabetic with a laundry list of other conditions that make me feel sick about half the work week. My main symptoms are exhaustion, mental fatigue, headaches, body aches, and fevers. In the two months I’ve been working from home, all of those things reduced significantly. I don’t have to fake feeling okay. I don’t have to try to make myself comfortable in an office. I waste so much energy putting up that facade.
Can I narrow it down to one thing? I believe the limited interaction with people has helped me. Not only that, but people being more courteous by wearing masks, and paying closer attention to personal hygiene.
Unfortunately, I know when things open back up, and the immediate threat is just a memory in the rear-view mirror, it will go back to “normal”, and that means I will, once again, get sick all the time.
I am happier.
I don’t want to make it sound like my office is a terrible place. That is not what I am trying to relay. I have a nice, spacious office that is very comfortable. What it doesn’t have is freedom.
What do I mean by freedom? At home, I have my pets. I could have never expected how much they impacted my happiness. Sure, all they do is lay next to my desk all day, but being able to pet them and let them outside a few times a day has really had some positive effects on my mental health.
My ideal working environment is with music or the television going. You can’t really do that in an office. I felt more focused with Aliens playing on the television, or my NSFW Twitch streams running. Being able to watch or listen without worrying about my co-workers was heavenly. I felt more focused, and happier.
My boss is already pretty lax and accommodating, but it isn’t the same as being on your own turf.
I was more productive.
I am talkative at work. If my office manager stops by, we can easily spend 15-20 minutes catching up every morning. That kind of interaction is necessary for a lot of people. It isn’t for me.
I found that I got my assignments done much quicker at home. Now, a lot of that has to do with my home computer being leagues above my work computer. It also has to do with my Internet connection being 10 times faster. My gaming computer is set up to my personal likes and habits. My work computer is as well, but it’s different. I feel more comfortable on my gaming computer.
Gained an hour and a half of my life back.
I commute 80 miles round trip every work day. It’s not a bad drive. I don’t typically run into traffic as the journey goes through a fairly remote portion of Texas. Gaining that hour and a half of my time has been life changing. The extra sleep has helped with my health, and I think that has contributed to my happiness. I’ve been able to cook more and just feel less stressed without the commute.
I like being left alone. That has a lot to do with my personality and mental issues, but I don’t like being around people. All of my co-workers are great people. Again, this isn’t to say my office environment is bad. I care for all of my co-workers and enjoy talking to them, but the office environment is bad for me. Human interaction makes me uncomfortable, so every minute I am in my work office, I am uncomfortable and nothing in the world can duplicate the comfort of my personal space. I think it mentally stresses me out. I have to watch how I speak, think about how I interact with my co-workers, and really think about the words that are about to come out of my mouth. It is such a drain on my mental capacity, because speaking to people does not come naturally to me.
I have really enjoyed my time working from home. I wish it was permanent, but I know that is a lot to ask. There are certain aspects of my job that really require me to be onsite.
Working from home has been a nice vacation for me, and for others, it has been a prison. What has it been like for you?