Thursday, August 12, 2010

Working at Home

I recently was given the extreme privilege of working at home 3-4 days out of the week. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I mean it was every full-time day jobbing writer’s dream. Twitter and blogs in the morning with no one to look over my shoulder! Utter relaxation and quiet! No having to pack a lunch! A huge savings in gas and bridge toll!

But as with everything, there’s a downside to the pros.

You get to sit in your polar bear print jammies.
The positive: Yes, this is beyond fun. Even though I take the whippersnapper to preschool in the morning, which necessitates pants not covered in polar bear print (although I have considered delivering him in them), I come home and change back into the polar bear print jammies. Oh yes I do.

The downside: I am sitting in polar bear print jammies most of the day. This means that there is a certain element of solvenliness and inactivity that goes on. If I were in the office, I’d be dressed and I’d be holding my back a lot straighter, and probably being much more careful not to emit rude sounds.

You get silence in which to do your work.
The positive: This means I get a crap load of work done in a shorter amount of time-- no coworkers to bother me, no conversations to eavesdrop on.

The downside: I miss out on office banter, like the discussion about mocking up a fake $1000 parking ticket and putting it on our boss’s car. When I departed from my office last week, I said “See you next week!” and I realized that a) I don’t have to see them all for a week, but b) I don’t get to see them for a week.

You get to slough off a bit.
The positive: I don’t allow myself to watch television or play video games because I know I would spiral down a black hole of slacking, but I do certainly do lots of other things on my computer. Twitter, Blip, Facebook, reading news, and of course reading blogs. I do this a lot more than I would in the office, I admit. I don't do it all the time, but it's nice to know I can without anyone shoulder surfing.

The downside: I’m sloughing off. This isn’t good, I know it in the depths of my heart, and it means that I should probably work extra hard to make up for it-- if I don't want it to catch up with me or have my work at home days revoked.

I don't have to commute through bad weather.
The positive: I get to be warm and cozy inside when it’s crappy and cold and rainy outside. This is a frequent thing where I live. Yes, it's the Bay Area, and yes it’s August, but as Mark Twain said, “The summer I spent in San Francisco was the coldest winter of my life.” He wasn’t kidding. My house faces west and we’re near the Bay so we get a thick marine layer coating of fog, which usually doesn’t burn off until 3 pm. Then it rolls in again at 5 pm. So that’s two hours of wan sunlight at best. I’m not complaining. I like it. It allows me to be cozy and cuddle with my cats and a cup of tea and my laptop.

The downside: There’s no downside to that.

I stay out of office politics.
The positive: I'm not part of the angst that goes on, or the complaining or sniping about other employees, or the management, or how crappy our jobs are, or any number of common employee gripes.

The downside: I'm probably the target of my coworker's rage, and a bunch of crap is probably said about me behind my back. But there's a positive to this-- they'd probably say it anyway, and hey, I'm not there to hear it!

Do you work from home? What are your strategies for staying focused and connected? What are your downfalls?

16 comments:

Suzi McGowen said...

One question. Is there any chance your boss or co-workers read your blog?

DL Hammons said...

I was expecting pictures of those polar bear jammies!

My wife works from home and has for years. She's a travel agent who runs a satellite office in our town. Another great positive is that when the kids are sick, we don't have to draw straws to see who stays home with them...she does. :)

Melissa Marsh said...

Oh, I would LOVE to be able to work from home part-time! Just two or three days a week would be perfect since I recognize that I need that people interaction, otherwise I get depressed.

Sierra Godfrey said...

Ah Suzi, I'm pretty sure bosses or coworkers don't read this however there is always that note in the back of my mind -- I've made myself accessible. In the end, I have to be able to stand by my posts a little bit. Notice I didn't say that I slack off a lot, but that I do make sure to make up for it.

(But you have a good point there.)

Don, I thought about taking a picture of the polar bear jammies (which, incidentally, I'm wearing now as I type this) but they are frayed and old and quite ugly. Plus they're actually men's jammy bottoms I believe, and thus ill fitting.

Melissa, the people interaction is tough -- you're right! I stay in touch with email, calls, and chat.

JentheAmazing said...

I don't work from home, unfortunately. However, I do get the few off days where I am allowed to work from home and you've pretty much summed up my behavior perfectly. I'm lazy. I don't deny it. My biggest issue with working at home (writing at home) is that I have a hard time making myself accountable. There isn't the random passerby at work to jolt out of my Twitter stalking or my addiction to video games. You've nailed it all on the head.

P.S. my jammies have kittens on them. Not as menacing but equally frayed and inappropriate for social gatherings.

Tawna Fenske said...

I've worked from home for the last three years and can identify with every single thing you said here! (Especially the social stuff).

I'm a hardcore introvert and was always exhausted by office politics and the social games at work. Once I started working from home, I found I suddenly had tons more energy for hanging out with friends after hours. It's like I had a daily limit of tolerance for human contact, and before I worked from home, it was being sucked dry by co-workers. I was suddenly a lot more social once that wasn't the case!

Congrats on the new work-from-home arrangement! You'll love it.

Tawna

Jessica Lemmon said...

I left my traditional J.O.B. to work at home when I started in a direct sales company in '04. I've worked from home (still had to leave to do parties, mind you) since then and consider myself "unemployable."

I work p/t now outside of the house, but it's for my mom's company and is a total cheat since she feeds me and makes the best coffee in town.

I love to work from home, haven't set an alarm for so long and forget what date it is sometimes. You'll adjust - it's awesome - so much better than that office B.S.!

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

I was nodding my head through every pro and con on your list. I've come to realize that getting in the shower and being dressed early does wonders for my productivity level of that day. And if I don't, well, the world keeps spinning :)

Congrats on working from home! In my view, the pros absolutely outweigh the cons on that one!

Tahereh said...

YUP YUP YUP. im with nicole on this one, absolutely. i understand.

KLM said...

I work from home. With three ring-tailed lemurs circling around me most of that time. I keep a big stick next to my desk and yell, "Git!" a lot. Then I throw some ripe fruit at them to get them to leave me alone. Works about 40 percent of the time.

I have always showered and dressed every day by 7 am. It's my one inviolate rule.

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

I worked from home as a recruiter before I decided to stay home with the kiddo, so I totally relate to these. The positives definitely outweighed the negatives, but I really did miss the social aspect of being in an office. Even though I was on the phone all day doing interviews, it was still pretty lonely.

Amber Tidd Murphy said...

I think working from home would be amazing, but I know that I have a hard time being productive. If blogger wasn't blocked on my computer at work, I wouldn't be so far behind in my google reader!

Sierra Godfrey said...

Great ideas everyone, although Kristen L-M, I don't know how you manage to get things done with the lemurs there. I know I can't do anything when the monkeys I have circle around.

I totally agree with those of you who are up and dressed and showered or else it doesn't work....well, I slightly agree. Polar bear jammies are still okay.

Thanks for all the great comments today on this, guys. And Amber, you've given me an idea for another post. (I shall dedicate it to you.)

Travener said...

I sit in front of this dang computer all day now, working. Never leave the dining room table. Sheesh.

Lt. Cccyxx said...

Oh god, you all are so lucky. This is my dream.

Meghan Ward said...

I work at home some days and the downside for me is that there IS noise (my kids with their nanny), unlike my office which is as quiet as a tomb, and that I tend to run errands, cook, clean, exercise, etc. instead of working. Otherwise, though, I love it.

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