I’m at a point where I can say I’ve gone both ways, and, a year into my ‘new’ job, I can sum up my thoughts on working from home versus working from an office.
In no particular order, except that the first item on the list is OBVIOUSLY most important, here is my…
State of the Workspace 2015:
Clothes: Actually… It’s not as hard as I thought to fake it with clothes that feel like pajamas but play the part. Perhaps even harder than the ever elusive ‘work-life balance’ is this – the ‘feel good-look half decent’ balance. And about ten months in, I figured out concealer.
Audio enrichment: Podcasts while running in the morning – check. Podcasts while commuting in the morning – check. This category gets a tie.
Fitness: Now I spend the time I was running, driving. But I also spend the time I was sitting at a kitchen table eating, racing around the office to find people. The fact is, I really missing running. I miss feeling fit. I felt more fit during my third pregnancy while working from home than I do now.
Food: In this category, I lose either way. Why is food during work hours such a hassle?
Networks: Obviously working in an office with lots of different people connected to other different people is better for making connections, getting fresh air, and practicing my native skills of empathy and tolerance. Well, some of the time.
Coworkers: From home, I worked for a ’boutique’ marketing agency, learned a lot about the business, worked on very different projects, experienced client relationships and sharpened a lot of skills. I was working with a tiny team of people I’ve worked with for years before – we knew each other very well. And Skyped daily. But I always knew – introvert that I am – that I missed having a team in my vicinity. Knocking on other people’s doors (or barging in as the case may be), striking up conversations over coffee. Part of that is the fortune of working with great people. Part of that is – introvert that I am – I do require human interaction in doses. Like vitamin D.
Parenting: You know what – in a weird way, working in an office wins. You’d think that being home all day means when you pick up the kids you have way more energy to spend with them. But I find it to be the opposite. I was a drag as a WAHM. I was done by 4pm. Now, I’m still on at 4pm. And 6pm. I’m tired, of course. And I have way less time for the random stuff I used to do for the kids. But the quality of the time and my mood is way better. And I can be amusing and silly way easier with the energy floodgates opened.
Boundaries: I didn’t have as much opportunity to push boundaries. I had some – working with clients taught me a lot, both business-wise and skills. It did push me. But being around dozens of people and solving tactical problems while solving people problems while keeping my shit together at a constant rate is a whole other skill set. Which, it turns out, I already had from the pre-WAHM days. I had just forgotten.
Happiness: When I took my current job a year ago, I knew all hell was breaking loose. The hours. The commute. The energy. The sacrifices. How would I manage it all? But as absolutely insane as it was to be thrown in the deep end right from the gate – I was growing happier. And then I realized – working from home wasn’t working for me. There are a lot of benefits, and a lot of things I miss.
And then, this past winter, those days it was pouring outside, and I’d think, ‘who the hell would choose to go outside for any reason today?’ but I’d still push myself to get dressed and get in my car and wish for the WAHM lifestyle… well, those days did always come to an end.
I’m simply… happier now than I was then.
Seriously, I think it’s the vitamin D.
So, State of the Workspace 2015: I’m sure I’ll work from home again. I’m sure I’ll work in different offices, too.
But after three years at home, I’m happy to be doing something different.