For most people, working from home seems like the perfect solution to the dreary, distraction-filled office you already spend most of your lifetime in. Sleeping in and making your own coffee while working in your underwear (for some reason) allegedly seems desirable for quite a lot of people these days. Also, it’s getting more and more support from a lot of companies (mostly) in the IT Industry, big and small. Sounds amazing to be honest, so what’s the catch? Well, let me fill you in on the three worst reasons to work from home.
1. I’ll be able to work more focused without anyone interrupting me
As half of the programming team in the company that I work for and someone who’s very easily distracted by every moving particle of light, annoying noises or people who use every visible or invisible body of space as their grand piano every time one of their favourite singalong comes around, at least two hours of my day are being shriveled by the folk around me. Be that for an actually useful matter, like someone offering to get me a cup of coffee, or a not-so-useful thing, like chitchatting about the awesomeness of the new Infinity Wars trailer. It makes perfect sense to think that working from home would lead to more a more focused mindset and a happier developer in general.
Well, in my experience, while the latter actually always does apply in this case, the rest isn’t exactly what’s happening. Working from home requires serious discipline and self-control. While your co-workers won’t be able to bug you about their alcohol-filled weekend endaviours, a much more dangerous enemy eagerly takes the place as challenger of my work-related focus.
Your hobbies and social media guilty pleasures. Working from home mostly means being in a more comfortable environment, with little to no supervision and generally filled with the things you like to do. To your left you see your guitar hanging on the wall. You still haven’t mastered Cliffs of Dover yet, right? No, focus on your code. Looking to your right you see the paintings that you still need to hang on the wall. Will only take ten minutes tops, right? NO, focus. On. Your. Code! Okay, just keep looking at the screen. Oh, Steam finished installing yet another this-time-we’ll-really-fix-it Fallout 76 patch? GOD…..
How to solve this? Part of it is easy, the rest is probably inevitable. First of all – and this is an obvious one – disable all notifications on your phone and don’t even think about going on social media. You’ve got work to do. Plan your whole day. Include the breaks in that planning, it will help you look forward to those moments.
2. I’ll be able to watch over my newborn / puppy
Two years ago, we got ourselves the cutest and most sweet Shiba Inu dog I could ever imagine. At just eight weeks old, he (we called him Aiko) was welcomed in our home and the little fella was mostly sleeping, but it would still need fulltime supervision. Since I was able to work from home and my girlfriend didn’t have that opportunity, it was an easy decision for us that I was to work from home and monitor the little guy while he was sleeping.
At first, that went terrific. He was sleeping 80% of the time and the other 20% was spent playing with him. From a pedagogical perspective I was doing a great job. But after one or two week he was sleeping less and less; he wanted to play more and more and started demanding attention. Great, I thought, that makes two… At that point (and believe me, you’ll reach that when you’re mentally not yet ready for it) you’ll won’t be able to spend all of your focus to your code, knowing that your sweet little dog may be wrecking some piece of furnature or maybe he’s barking desperately for your undivided attention (or to incite fear in the delivery guy).
Puppies especially (or perhaps a newborn fits your situation better, but it’s basically the same) are masters of breaking your focus, dealing blows to your concentration with random intervals and indiscriminate frequency. In terms of miscalculations, thinking I could handle ‘working from home and watch the puppy at the same time easily’ was propably the worst of them all for me.
To be honest, even after two years I’m still not sure how to solve this issue. It can’t be solved completely, of course, but there are ways to reduce the problems it gives.
Especially with my dog, he soon returned to it’s initial mindset of sleeping almost all of the day. Problem solved. For taking care of pets (or children for that matter), make sure that you can plan to multitask. I’m scheduling meetings over the phone when I’m walking the dog. I get up real early (5 AM every day) and do the real meat of the day (difficult programming problems) when everyone’s still asleep. That way, you plan at least a little bit when you can have your focus.
3. I’ll be able to sleep in and just start later
Alright, there are a lot of different standings on this one. I’ve been waking up at 5 AM every day for the past two years and I can’t remember the last time sleeping in me feel good. It always leaves me groggy and ironically it makes me feel sleepy and unfocussed.
But for some people, according to their blogs and YouTube videos, it helps them with their creative processes. You’ve got to find your own way in this, but from my personal experience I can only say that sleeping in just makes me feel like I’ve skipped on the opportunity to get a couple of extra hours of work in. Obviously, this also means that in order for you to get at least the recommended amount of sleep, you’ll need to get to bed early.
Many highly successful people keep a strict daily routine and that (mostly) includes going to bed early everyday – preferably around the same time – and waking up early as well. It takes trial-and-error to get your own best fit for this. For me, it’s going to bed at 22:00 and waking up at 5:00. Regulating your sleep also has been proven to help with your overall mental fitness.
There are so many pro’s and con’s about working from home and I could go on writing about these topics for many more pages, but the gist is that it’s just not always the ideal fit-all solution that everyone talks about. Don’t worry, more content about working from home is in the writing, but for now: be honest with yourself, wage the pro’s and con’s and just try it a couple of times to know whether it suits you. Good luck!