home with pets on front porch

WFH – 5 things I’ve learned over the past 8 years

I wrote a blog on working from home back in 2014 [pre-Covid]. With half of the country currently working from home, I thought now might be a good time to freshen up and re-share.

In 2014 when I first considered the pros and cons of a “remote” work-life, I did what anyone would do… I took to the internet and explored every blog post I could find. Most of the articles spoke about “what to expect”, “what not to do”, “what to do”, “how to transition”, “how to not be lonely”… They all had great information but none focused on how a person’s life really changed or what it was like for them day-to-day. I wanted to change that.

You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.
— Michelle Obama

All that being said, here are 5 things I’ve learned working from home the past 8 years…

1 – Figure out the rules.

If you work for yourself, this is an easy one. If you work for or with others, make sure you get all the details. What time do you need to be “online”? Should you always offer video calls? Who orders lunch?

The main thing – Figure out what’s important to your employer. Do they require a 9-to-5 workday, or is there flexibility? What tools do you need? While everyone else is also adjusting, and while technology has greatly improved, it’s always smart to do trial runs before big presentations.

2 – Never forget, the office is a trap

Every job that I have had to report to an actual office, I’ve spent entirely too much time in said office. I stayed late, I arrived early, I ate there, I had a key… No matter what day it was, there was never enough time to finish the work. I would end up leaving after dark, never having seen more than what my short commute allowed. No sunshine, no nature, just office.

On the days I did try to leave on time, say 5-ish, I would get those death stares from fellow employees, as if my 8+ hours spent at my desk weren’t enough and I should just build a cot in the back to “be available”. I found myself sneaking out or telling white lies about having to run this or that errand just to escape. I dreaded Mondays, I would never even glance at my computer for personal or creative projects on the weekends because I felt angry and overwhelmed.

After just one year of working from home, I found that I had done better and more satisfying work than I ever had in my life. There is something about sitting in your yoga pants with your dog at your feet, those familiar smells of home sneaking into your office that just makes the day better. It makes work feel less like work.

Fast forward 7 years later – I leave my desk whenever I want, whether it’s to get a snack or to take a walk, and for some reason at 5:00 pm I am done. The work is done.

Extra side note on this point– I also finally went out completely on my own and started the business I always wanted to start. Maybe that shows just how much I hate the must-go-to the office gig or maybe I found the confidence to do something big, in the comfort of my own home.

3 – Makeup shmake-up

In the hundreds of articles I read to prepare myself for remote life the number one most consistent “tip”, was to still get ready every day. Ummm, I don’t know who these men and women are, but what a waste of time! For the first month (I didn’t know any better) I followed the tip… showered bright and early, put on my make-up, fixed my hair, and put on a decent outfit. My findings after a month— All I was doing was creating more laundry and wasting my expensive make-up AND my time (arguably more expensive).

I am a super active person with a 100 lbs chocolate lab (Frank!) that INSISTS I walk him twice a day. I often pretend to know what he’s thinking and it goes something like this, “Mah, quit staring at that screen like a zombie, and let’s go for a walk?!“. I also go try to get a workout in on my lunch break (which will be covered under #5) so all that time I spent “getting ready” was a waste and overall, an annoyance.Weather varies around the globe, but in sunny North Carolina even when it’s mild out, you sweat. So the rule of thumb for me… if you have a face-to-face meeting or a video Skype call on the books, by all means, put a little pride in your appearance. Otherwise, shower or don’t, I don’t care and I promise you the other remote workers you talk to all day probably won’t care either.

Amy sitting in chair with cameraSide note: If you stop by my house unannounced, I will be in some sort of gym clothes attire that could include yoga pants. I have brushed my teeth and washed my face but my hair will be messy. Just saying.

4 – Balance

The rumors are 100% true— People that work from home are much less stressed and overall more pleasant to deal with. Anyone I collaborate with asks me how I’m doing, tells me to have a great weekend, the works. And, because you can see a tiny piece of their home (and sometimes their family), people often share a little piece of themselves, keeping WFH life amazingly human. What WFH people rarely do… complain, whine, nag, etc… because typing your thoughts instead of just blurting them out gives you that split second to re-think what you are about to say.

Having to proofread and think twice about everything you say – is AWESOME and in the end, makes everyone better, including myself. The past few years have been such an eye-opening experience for me and I have seen the light shed on the unneeded, unwanted stress that I used to carry around.

Many people ask if you get lonely working from home. (Before Covid) I feel like I have more time and actually want to see people more now. I schedule lunch dates or happy hour get-togethers, networking meetups, and yoga parties because I can… whereas in office life, you probably just want to go home and take your pants off.

*Current Covid update – yes, it is a little lonely since socializing is kept to a minimum for now, but I have the utmost confidence we will all bounce back in no time!

5 – (My personal favorite part) Enjoy your workout

This is hands down my favorite part of working from home. I get to go to workout whenever I want.

It’s so hard to work all day and then make it to the packed-out gym after 5 pm. *Skkkkkrt – just kidding this was pre-Covid when it was safe to touch other people’s germs…* So now – I still work out during the day but I just head on over to my SHE-SHED. Cheapo bike plus cadence counter meets Peloton app – hello motivation!

Bonus – since I don’t have to save time to shower and be presentable when I get back to the office I don’t have to rush through my workout. It offers me the perfect break in my day to wake up my mind and body, putting me back in the mood to be creative. How am I in the mood to go to the gym instead of just take a nap you ask? Go back to #2 and read about what I’m wearing… half the work is dressing the part. You can make yourself feel pretty guilty trying to take your sneakers off and nap in your gym clothes.

These last few bonus tips can be summed up in a bullet list and need no explanation –

A clean home is a happy home.

Invest in good gear.

Use technology, get all the apps.

SO, if you are thinking about working from home, I say go for it! But either way, I hope what I have learned over the past 7 years enlightens you or helps you on your journey.

Or maybe you already work from home… Do you agree with my findings? Disagree? Have you found better ways to do things? Any must-haves on your list? I would love to know, please feel free to share!