I make no secret about how working from home allows me the flexibility to pop in and read a book at my kids’ schools, be on time for after school soccer games, or get my license upgraded at the DMV at 9 AM on a Tuesday (make an appointment, people!). It's a pretty sweet deal as a working parent. But there are a few things I didn't realize when I started working from home nine years ago...
With more and more individuals - and many working parents - poised to work from home due to concerns about coronavirus, here are the most common misconceptions you might have and how you too can make the most of this awesome opportunity.
Misconception #1: You don’t need childcare.
So many people assume that working from home means you can also care for your kids at the same time. It’s next to impossible to give my kids AND my work the time and attention they both need simultaneously. Even with great childcare, working from home with kids will have some more colorful moments. Remember this guy? It could have happened to any of us.
Bottom line: Line up reliable childcare. Hire a nanny or babysitter, invest in day-care, or use afterschool care – and then have a backup plan for when that childcare plan inevitably fails.
Misconception #2: You’ll have a lot of free time.
While your time is a bit more flexible, you still have to get results and that means, at some point, you'll need to buckle down and actually get the work done. So, “No. I’m sorry, Mom, I can’t talk to you for 45 minutes about the presidential election. I’ve got to get this proposal done.”
Bottom line: Limit interruptions and schedule your work into your working hours to ensure you meet deadlines and don’t have to “take work home” with you.
Misconception #3: You’ll love ditching your commute.
I rode the Long Island Fail Road (not a typo) for years. I was thrilled to be rid of the daily grind – for a while. But your daily commute provides a natural buffer and transition point in your day. Without the commute, it’s hard to make clear the distinction between your work day and your home hours.
Bottom line: Create a routine to start up and wind down your work day so you can switch modes more easily and set a clear boundary between work and home.
Misconception #4: You’ll sit on the couch all day in your pajamas.
People often assume I don’t change out of my pajamas and just chill on the couch with my laptop when I work from home. If you only occasionally work from home, this might work out fine. But if you exclusively work from home, you’ll need a space to organize your papers, notes, and not destroy your back. Research even shows how you dress impacts how you work, so ditch the sweats or yoga pants. You never know when you’ll need to hop onto a video call.
Bottom line: Define your workspace and dress for success.
Misconception #5: You’ll get all the chores done.
This is probably the saddest misconception that my spouse had when I started working from home. #sorrySteve Just because you work from home does not mean that the laundry will get done, dinner will be cooked, and all the toys will be back in their place at 5 pm (or ever). You'll have to put on the blinders to make sure that your work is getting done, dirty dishes be damned.
Bottom line: Give yourself some grace. You are not a superhero. Let go of the expectations of a perfect house or a gourmet meal. Good enough is good enough.
Misconception #6: Your exercise and eating habits can stay the same.
Without the commute, you’ll move a lot less, and with such easy access to the kitchen, you’ll eat a lot more. Not a great combination. This was the harshest realization for me, sadly.
Bottom line: Make more time for daily exercise and limit grazing as best as you can. #sohard
Misconception #7: You’ll be lonely.
People often ask if I miss working in an office. Honestly, with video calls and great colleagues, I really don’t. That said, you have to make time to check in with people on a personal level. How are they doing? What’s new? These interactions often happen more naturally around water coolers or when you can stop by someone’s desk on the way back from the bathroom. At home, you’ll have to be more intentional about creating connections across the distance.
Bottom line: Carve out time to share personal updates with others or chat about the latest Netflix show you’re watching. (Hello, Love is Blind!) It’ll keep you connected to others beyond the work and help maintain a sense of connection and community.
What’s your biggest wondering or learning about working from home?