I have been working from home for over six months at this point and I have realized one thing — I definitely romanticized being able to work from home back when I was unable to. In reality, it’s a real struggle! The struggles of working from home haven’t been without their benefits, but there have been some unexpected downsides too.
I am grateful I am in a place where I can even be writing this article — that I still have my job and am just trying to figure out how to transition into being remote full-time now rather than just one day a week. But I’d be untruthful if I didn’t acknowledge that this is more difficult than I had imagined, and that I truly miss being in an office.
The Struggles of Working from Home
1. There is no escape.
I don’t commute anymore which means I don’t have a buffer anymore between my work life and my personal life. My half-hour train ride was where I could decompress. I read my book, listened to music or a podcast, or just talked to the person next to me.
I had a clear separation of work life and home life, and now it feels as though that doesn’t happen. I am bringing my work life into my personal life and vice versa. The two have become too intertwined and it feels like there is no escape.
For me as well, living in a New York City condo, my living room has become my office. This means that I can see my laptop and monitor at all times, even when I’m trying to veg on the couch in the evening or on weekends. It actually feels like I’m always at the office now!
2. You end up working longer hours.
“I’m home anyway, so I might as well answer that email” or “Well I got up early, I may as well log on and get a head start” are two phrases I have said to myself countless times over the past six months.
Getting a head start is great, but, most of the time, I end up still working until 5 PM or beyond. Working from home has resulted in working longer hours. Forgetting to eat lunch is a thing because meetings are scheduled during lunch time, and when you’re on a video call, you really shouldn’t be chowing down on a sandwich or anything. At least in the office when there was a lunch meeting, lunch was provided!
3. Socialization is gone.
Damn, do I really miss happy hour. Grabbing a couple of drinks with your colleagues, decompressing about your day to people who understand and lived it with you — there’s nothing like it.
For many twenty-somethings, we are at work so much, work becomes our social life as well, whether it’s grabbing lunch with colleagues, going to happy hour or dinner, catching a movie or show post-work, etc. Work is a place to meet people, as well. And now in this remote setting, it’s all gone.
There’s only so many virtual happy hours or coffee breaks you can have. I know at least for me, after staring at my computer screen all day for meetings, I cherish every chance I get to give my eyes a break and not have to stare at it.
4. Getting to know people is harder.
I am fortunate that I had been working at my company prior to moving to remote work. But I know a lot of people who have started new jobs during this time, and one of their struggles is that they don’t really know anyone because they never met them in person.
Of course it’s fortunate we live in a time where we can video call and put names to faces, but that doesn’t replace the bond you make by working with someone in person.
Additionally, for junior folks, it is even more difficult now to try and get the attention of a senior executive, as you need to get time on their calendar rather than just seeing them in the office. Building and strengthening that bond has become more difficult, but it is important you figure out a way to stay in touch with them, as they will be your biggest advocate for movement in your career.
5. Electricity bills have surged.
I don’t know about you, but between this time last year and this year, my electricity bill has pretty much doubled. This time last year I was barely ever home — I was in the office for 8+ hours a day, spent another couple hours commuting each day, and then was likely found at happy hour or dinner somewhere.
Now, not only am I home 24 hours a day, but in the hot summer months, I had to have my air conditioner running full time. This is on top of having my laptop and monitor plugged in constantly as well, you know, to actually do my work!
These are just some of the struggles that come with working remotely. What struggles have you had during this time of transitioning to remote? Do you prefer working from home or do you miss being in the office?