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Working From Home: Expectations and Reality

Emmy Solis

For some, working from home is not ideal. The clattering of your cat knocking things over, the baby dropping whole rolls of toilet paper into the toilet, the beckoning of Netflix while you just try to get out one more email… It can be a lot to contend with!

I always found the idea of working from home thrilling. Being able to suit up in a sweatshirt and some leggings, brewing a full pot of my good coffee for only myself, and hunkering down at the desk in my office (which remains criminally underused during the work week) always sounded like a dream come true!

So, what is working from home actually like? To be frank, most of my expectations have been subverted, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing! For one, I didn’t end up getting the office downstairs. With COVID-19 affecting not only my job, but also my husband’s, I gave him the office downstairs while I’m up in one of our extra bedrooms (where we keep our music and speaker system). 

It’s been an interesting experience to make phone calls surrounded by our collectible DC action figures and ELO albums, but in all honesty, it hasn’t been much different than being in the office in terms of noise level… Which leads me to my next thought: working from home feels less productive, despite putting out the same level of work.

In the office, it seems like there are always things to get done. Emails to send, websites to check on, customer service chats pinging with notifications. While home, however, not hearing the office abuzz with activity makes me feel like I’m not getting enough done, even when the workload is exactly the same! Without the added bonus of hearing other people keeping on track, it’s sometimes hard to keep my brain in work-mode, which makes me feel less productive. 

…And feeling less productive can really hurt anyone’s productivity level.

I’ve found that the best way to avoid the self-fulfilling prophecy is to psychologically separate your work place from the rest of your house, if possible. I no longer go into my “work room” unless it’s during my work hours, and I don’t leave my work room unless I’m taking a break. 

This approach makes it feel much more like “work,” which helps me maintain focus!

Despite some of the hiccups, working from home has been a great experience. I feel happier in general since I get more sleep (no need to get up early to commute!), and my biggest fear, which was being unable to separate my work life from my home life, has been a non-issue so far. 

I imagine that it might be harder for some industries to “log out,” but already being accustomed to a 9 to 5 schedule has made the transition that much easier.

How are you faring?