There’s a lot of talk about working from home these days, especially since the pandemic decided to rear its ugly mug. But even before that, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, more people were already choosing to abandon the traditional nine to five in favour of a more flexible way of working.
And why the hell not?
I’ve been working from home for the last nine years and the novelty still hasn’t worn off. I absolutely love what I do and wouldn’t change it for the world.
But that’s not to say that it’s all plain sailing. It can be tough at times, especially when you chuck being freelance into the equation.
So I thought I’d share what I’ve learnt about working from home over the last nine years — the good, the bad and the downright ugly. Because if you are considering working from home or going freelance, I want you to know exactly what you’re letting yourself in for.
Your commute to work takes a matter of seconds
Even if you take the scenic route. And by scenic route, I mean if you choose to take a detour through the kitchen to get to your home office because well, there’s food and stuff in there.
You’re your own boss
Of course, this only applies to the freelance contingency.
But if you have decided to throw off the shackles of the nine to five — with the holiday pay, benefits, and erm, regular income — and embrace the unpredictable life of the freelancer, then you can set your schedule and you get to decide how and when you’re going to work.
Like getting up at 10am and vegging about for a couple of hours before sitting at your desk?
Are you a nocturnal type who gets their best work done in the wee small hours?
Or maybe you’re a busy parent who’s only time to write is those golden hours before sunrise, when the kids are still tucked up in bed?
That’s cool, too.
As long as you meet deadlines and keep your clients happy, it doesn’t matter one little bit how you decide to do it.
You can choose your own uniform
Now, as someone who thinks that people who wear jeans in the day are psychopaths, and formal wear is only for funerals and court appearances, I love the fact that my job allows me to dress however I damn well please.
And this is a perk that I really should take more advantage of. Because while I sit around in harem trousers and badly fitting T-shirts, I could be dressed as Superman, Indiana Jones or Queen Elizabeth I, if the mood so took me.
Or, I could even forgo clothes altogether and rebrand myself as The Naked Copywriter. It’d be a unique selling point, albeit a pointless one, as I work alone and mainly communicate through text, phone and email.
But hey, if it worked for Jamie Oliver…
Your pyjama/loungewear collection will be the envy of the neighbourhood
My neighbours stop whatever they’re doing on bin collection day, just so they can gaze in awe at the majestic beauty of me putting the bins out, rocking a pair of penguin pyjamas and a Jurassic World hoodie.
And on cold days when I’m also wearing fingerless gloves, they go absolutely wild.
I call this look Hobo Chic, and it’s a spectacle and a delight to behold, I can tell you.
So Cara Delevingne better watch herself because there’s a new fashionista in town…
You don’t have to share snacks with co-workers
At last you’ll finally be free from the tyranny of Sandra.
You know the type I mean because every office has a Sandra.
Sandra brings in snacks that smell like the orthotic you threw out last month, doesn’t eat them because they taste gross, and then proceeds to devour the sugar-laden delights you brought in, all while lecturing you on the merits of eating healthy food.
“No, Sandra, I’m not sharing my snacks with you. Now kindly go away before I beat you savagely with that gluten-free baguette you’re holding — I’d hate for it to go to waste.”
Sooner or later, you’re gonna start talking to yourself
When you work by yourself all day, this is almost inevitable. So my advice is that you become really interesting, really quickly.
I didn’t realise how boring I was until I started talking to myself.
So after a couple of months of working from home, talking to myself and boring myself rigid in the process, I set about trying to become more interesting by watching quiz shows and reading obscure books so I’d have witty stories and anecdotes to share with myself.
I can’t say that I was completely successful in my quest, but me, myself and I sure do get on better than we did before.
Then you’ll start talking to inanimate objects
This in itself isn’t a problem — it’s when they start talking back to you that you really need to worry.
From my own personal experience, I can tell you that kettles are great to have a mid-morning banter with.
But stay away from dishwashers — they’re stuck up and talk crap about you to the other appliances whenever your back is turned.
You’ll become a one-person mail service for your neighbours
Picture the scene: you’re bashing out words faster than Usain Bolt runs and the creativity is running through you like well, Usain Bolt.
And then the doorbell rings.
It’s impolite to ignore it (even though you’re working), so off you go and take the parcel in the neighbourly way that neighbours do. And then you go back to your desk.
But alas! The creativity has dried up like your local bar on New Years’ Eve and you’ve suddenly forgotten 60% of the alphabet.
Now, I’m not saying that this is entirely the delivery person or your neighbour’s fault — the point I’m trying to make is that interruptions are the enemy for those of us who work from home — and unfortunately there tends to be a lot of them.
From postal deliveries and computer updates through to unsolicited phone calls and your cat deciding to do yoga on your keyboard, when you work from home, the interruptions are frequent and many.
The plus side of this is that being the local neighbourhood delivery-receiver person will probably make you very popular among your neighbours.
But you however, will grow bitter and resentful and start passive aggressively whistling the theme tune to Postman Pat whenever you bump into them.
You’re your own boss
For the most part, I love being my own boss.
But it does help if you have a likeable personality to begin with, which unfortunately I didn’t.
So along with having to become more interesting so I could exchange witty banter with myself, I also had to work on becoming more likeable, which as it turned out was twice as difficult.
So if you’re like me and are prone to bouts of being annoying, then I wouldn’t recommend the whole freelance thing. It’s much healthier and more fun to channel your rage against some jobsworth in a pin-striped suit than towards yourself.
Christmas parties are pretty rubbish
Most years, it’s just me sat at my desk with a bottle of Jägermeister and a handful of party poppers.
And I’m not gonna lie, things have been known to get a little messy because it turns out that I get a little too over-friendly when I drink Jägermeister.
I’ve had to have some pretty stern words with myself the next morning, I can tell you. But luckily, I’m always gracious enough not to press charges.
Ahem…That would be you
Well, without putting too fine a point on it, if you’re anything like me then you’ll be the ugly part of this equation.
I live in anything that’s loose-fitting and comfortable, like joggers and T-shirts when I’m working. But the T-shirts do have cool pictures of stuff like sharks, dinosaurs and bananas on them, so I think I should at least get some points for that.
You’re your own boss
As you may have guessed from the fact that this has made all three lists, being your own boss is both a blessing and a curse.
Most of the time, it’s fine.
I treat myself well, I give myself time off when I need it and I don’t steal office supplies (not since I got caught the last time, anyway).
But the flip side of this is that there are times when I’m impatient, inflexible, overly self-critical and set unrealistic expectations of myself.
To put it another way — man, I can be a right knob sometimes.
So there we have it, a completely sensible and not at all pointless overview of the pros and cons of working from home.
If you still think it’s the right option for you, then all I can say is welcome to the flip side. We’re a strange lot, we work at home types, but I’m sure you’re gonna fit right in.
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