“You’re so luck you get to work from home!”
“You must get so much laundry done!”
“You must work out all the time!”
“I’m so jealous!”
During my five years of working from home, these were the most common responses I got when I told someone I worked remotely. I choked out a smile while thinking to myself “They have no idea!”
Sure it’s great to not have to commute or to eat leftovers and not spend ten bucks on a sandwich. It’s also great not having to worry what to wear, but there’s a dark side that no one talks about. If you’ve watched “Stranger Things” on Netflix, you’re familiar with The Upside Down. It’s the same place on the surface, but the energy can change shift to a not so nice place. If you’re super confused, I’ve broken down the not-so-nice aspects of teleworking.
1) It’s Lonely – So you don’t have to listen to your cube mate chomping on potato chips or clipping their nails, but sometimes you miss the banter and small talk. It would be nice for someone to ask you how your day is going or if you want to join them for lunch.
2) You’re Worried About Whether People Think You’re Working – You take shortened lunch and potty breaks because what if the boss calls or emails looking for the TPS reports. If you don’t answer on the second ring, you’re clearly a slacker and going to get fired.
3) You’re Hygiene May Be Slipping – Your once pristine appearance at 7am is now a questionable shower at 4pm. When did you last brush your teeth? How about that make up?
4) Pajamas are the New Business Casual – If you’re video conferencing, people can only see from the waist up so you better be comfortable. Comfort is the name of the game and while your feet and dry-cleaning bill may be thanking you, your image of professionalism may be slipping.
5) Judge Judy or Dr. Phil Have Become HR – You now tune in every day to get guidance on interpersonal issues with your colleagues. Ok this one may be a stretch, but I’m pretty sure this was at least a weekly thing for me.
6) You May Be Overlooked for Advancement – Out of Sight – Out of Mind. I hate to say it, but it’s true in traditional organizations. If they don’t see you, they don’t always know what you’re working on and without that reminder you may get passed for bigger projects or promotions.
7) You May Make Less – The best negotiations are done in person. When you can look someone in the eye and read their body language you can better negotiate and communicate. If you are working remotely, you aren’t as much of a thorn in the side of the company who needs to be taken care of.
8) Energy Drop – Because you don’t have the expectation to be out and about and may not be showering or brushing your teeth or dressed, it may be harder to get going and provide that much needed self-care. Over time this can lead to sluggish behavior or even feeling depressed.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but in order to find resolution, you must know all of the facts. If you work from home and have experienced any of these issues, the first step is to be aware and recreate your routines.
1) Take a Shower, brush Your teeth, and get dressed (No Yoga Pants)
2) Eat a healthy breakfast
3) Schedule breaks through the day to move
4) Reach out to colleagues by phone and/or schedule time to meet up with people for lunch
5) Communicate with your boss and colleagues about what you’re working on. Don’t be afraid to brag.
6) Ask about advancement and the steps needed to get you there
7) Show up in person for salary negotiations
8) Take care of yourself and ask for help when you need it