8 Weird Things that Happen When You Work From Home
When I graduated college, my life changed drastically. I continued working at the same company where I had been interning, except now in a full-time capacity. I got married just 17 days after graduation (boy was that stressful – that’s a story for another time). Then, everything took an even more unexpected change when my husband entered grad school, causing me to work from home.
Although it as a long, prayerful decision, we packed our bags and moved 300 miles for his classes. Luckily, I work at a flexible company that allows employees to work from home as needed. I went from commuting half an hour to the office 5 days a week to walking just a few steps to the next room every day for work.
It didn’t take long before I noticed some definite changes in both myself and my perspective. Here are 8 of the unexpected things that happened to me when I worked from home.
1) You Become Weird
I already had many odd qualities (as I’m sure you do, too), but working from home truly shed a new light on them. I began the habit of narrating my life aloud to break up the silence of being alone all day. When my husband came home for the day, the narrations didn’t stop. To this day, a few years later, I still narrate much of my life, even now that I’m working in the office again. I’m sure my coworkers really enjoy it (sigh).
I also realized I truly lived my life as if nobody was watching. I’d jam out to my music while in front of my computer, belting the lyrics and dancing along. I’d do squats in the kitchen while the microwave heated up my lunch, or I’d do burpees in the living room when I was in need of a break.
My husband (who had actual contact with humans and ventured outside the home) informed me many times that I was getting weirder and weirder. Without me even noticing, it had happened.
You’ll learn those odd quirks become exponentially more apparent the longer you work from home, too.
2) You Live in Pajama Pants
At first, you dress up. You make the promise to yourself that you need to take working from home seriously, so you decide that your attire will remain the same. It doesn’t take long before you realize you’ll only ever be seen from the waist up (if at all), so you no longer bother with dress pants or even jeans.
You eventually move toward pajama pants and a decently nice top. It might become so second-nature to you that you find yourself forgetting your strange attire and venturing out in public with your confusing outfit.
3) You Crave Social Interaction
Seemingly minor encounters at the grocery store or the McDonald’s drive thru become opportunities for you to carry on full-blown conversations. You find yourself talking to anyone for longer than the poor stranger would ever want.
Your phone conversations get a bit longer, sometimes filled with complete nonsense or questions you already know the answer to, in an attempt to keep the other person talking to you. You become this inquisitive person in a way you never thought possible.
Because of this, however, I found that I put so much more effort into my relationships with others. Since I was so far away from most of my friends and family, I had to be intentional about my relationships. One way I did this was to send small “thinking of you” gifts, usually in the form of cards. I also tried to remember birthdays and anniversaries to show that I cared, even from hundreds of miles away. Here is a set of boxed cards you could stock up on so that you’re prepared next time you want to send a greeting card to someone you care.
4) You Learn to Prioritize Interactions
Most people in an office setting think that when someone reaches out to them, they must respond immediately. This is especially true with walk-up questions and other in-person interactions. The dings of your instant messages, the emails loading in your peripheral, and the calendar invites appearing on your screen – all fighting for your attention. It feels like such a balancing act trying to manage it all.
When you work from home, however, you learn what constitutes an immediate response, and what can actually wait. Because you don’t have the in-person immediate interactions, you’re not distracted by those. You assess the dings and other issues based on who they are from and any context around them. My coworkers knew which exact methods to use if they absolutely needed a response from me, so I became good at filtering out the other noise. Oftentimes, I found myself so in the zone that I didn’t notice any of those distractions for hours.
You might find you begin to do this with your friends and family, as well. What was once an I-must-give-my-answer-right-away to your mom’s text message about casseroles becomes when-I-get-around-to-it.
5) You Google Everything and Sidetrack Often
6) You Learn More About Your Neighbors Than You Ever Wanted to Know
You know exactly what time your next door neighbor comes home each day for lunch, and that the woman across the street checks her mail four times each day. You know that Mr. James a few houses down always talks on the phone in his car in the driveway, and that dog you hate will always bark when kids ride by on their bikes.
As much as you don’t want to be nosy, it just happens. Sometimes, to entertain yourself, you imagine what Mr. James talks about on his phone. Or you wonder why the woman across the street hasn’t yet figured out the mail arrives at 11:20 each morning.
7) You Learn Patience
Working from home often comes with challenges, like not having the direct one-on-one interaction you’re used to in life. Because of that, you can’t always get a quick answer to a seemingly quick question. What’s more, some things take significantly longer to explain digitally than they would face-to-face. Because of this, you become creative in tracking down people when urgent matters arise.
For example, you tried to contact your manager but it appeared he was offline. You put on your sleuthing hat and try to figure out why. You check his calendar to see if he has anything going on. Then, you ask others who might know where he is. You chat, email, and possibly even text, hoping for a response. However, you know you’re at the mercy of the response.
Nothing made me realize how few truly urgent things I encountered at work than being helpless to responses. It was frustrating in some ways, but it eventually became liberating.
8) You Become More Productive Than You Would Have Thought
Without all the distractions of the office, you find you are more productive than ever before. Not only do you complete more than you did in the office, but your files are all organized, and you can actually see your desktop.
While some people believe those who work from home are less productive because of all the distractions at home, you’ll find nothing kills productivity more than an office setting. Likewise, if you ever visit an office after working from home, don’t plan to get anything done. I remember visiting the office for the first time after working from home to realize that I couldn’t get even a quarter of the work done in a day I once did.
Do you work from home? What have you learned while working from home?