Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Pros and Cons of Working From Home

In my adult life, I have worked in all sorts of professional environments. Small creative spaces, large corporate offices with views of the Manhattan skyline, cubicles, people's living rooms, expansive outdoor properties, live television studios, Anthropologie dressing rooms -- I've been everywhere, man. But over the last year, as a freelance writer, my office has been my apartment. Just like any job, the place where I work has its pros and cons. I get asked a lot about what my experience is like, so for inquiring minds, here are some of my favorite and least favorite things about working from the same place where I take showers and drool in my sleep.

PRO: I've got a fantastic commute.

At my last office job, I worked in Chelsea all the way over on 11th avenue. Every day, I would walk several avenue blocks from the subway, way past the Highline, with the wind off of the Hudson River whipping my face until it felt positively raw. For those of you who are non-New Yorkers, just know this: it was a far walk, and it was no secret that I hated it. Now I take about twenty steps from my bed in the morning, and I am literally in my office. It never gets old.

CON: I have to be intentional about being active.

When I first moved to NYC, it felt relatively easy to stay in shape. Again, my commute was substantial and I was always running around at work, so I got a lot of exercise without even thinking about it. Working from home, though, is a totally different animal. I could easily turn into a lifeless pile of mush if I stopped being deliberate about keeping my body moving. Considering I run a blog called Avoiding Atrophy, I feel like that would be a bad idea.

PRO: I don't have to deal with awkward office culture.

One thing you need to know about me: I hate small talk. So much. I genuinely wish it was socially acceptable to ask, "Oh hey, what's your deepest, darkest secret?" within minutes of meeting someone, but alas, it's not. And as everyone knows, offices are a hotbed for all of the worst kinds of small talk: conversations about the weather, the slowness of the Keurig machine, the malfunctioning air conditioning, what you majored in, how your weekend was -- BLUH! That is like my personal hell. I do not miss these superficial encounters even a little bit.

CON: It can be isolating.

Okay, maybe sometimes I miss those superficial encounters, actually. As an introvert, I often revel in being by myself. Seriously, whenever I think of my "happy place", I always picture me sitting alone by a window just writing in my journal and eating a crepe (is that weird?). But even with my aggressive form of introversion, there are times where I crave human interaction during my work day. It's this realization that led me to make "collaboration" my word of the year. Working from home doesn't have to mean working in a vacuum.

PRO: I can work anywhere.

So yes, working from home is one way to describe what I do, but I actually spend a good deal of my time away from my apartment. Usually, you can find me at a coffee shop, fighting off the urge to buy a second butter scone as I write the next great American novel. JK, I write emails, but still, I enjoy changing up my workspace and exploring NYC through these unique venues. I'm lucky to live near some of the best coffee shops in the city. Maybe I'm biased, but whatevs.

CON: Working in coffee shops can get expensive.

While the idea of writing at a coffee shop has a sort of romantic appeal, it can also get expensive. Sure, there are libraries and other spots to work that don't require the purchase of a latte, but honestly...I just like working at coffee shops. If that means that I pay $3 a day to do so, then so be it. But yeah, I know that it's a little ridiculous, but just like...shut up, okay?

PRO: I can set my own schedule.

This is by far my favorite part about working from home. I am the type of person who gets really drained by the typical 9 - 5 work schedule, so I feel fortunate to be able to craft my own timeline for the day. I get asked about my daily routine A LOT, and I'll definitely write a post about that in the future, but honestly, it changes all the time. There are consistent creative spikes in my day where I am able to be far more productive. Usually 4 - 10 PM is a good time for me to be doing my actual writing, while the fragile morning hours are better suited for answering emails, doing research, and drinking warm lemon water because, believe it or not, I actually do make some good choices every now and then.

CON: It can be difficult to set boundaries between work and family.

Since my husband is usually done with his work day at 6 PM, it's kind of unfortunate that I tend to be in my creative zone just as he's getting home. In general, since my home and my workplace are the same space, it can be really tough to know when it's time to stop. Any time could be work time. Any time could be play time. So when I'm working, I'm dreaming about play, and when I'm playing, I'm stressing about work. I'll get better about it, I promise. Or I won't, and I'll just live the rest of my life with this mildly sick feeling in my stomach. It's manageable though.

PRO: My cat is my coworker.

I mean, look at this guy!

CON: My cat is my coworker.

I mean, look at this guy...

What are some pros and cons about your work environment?


  1. Great post! I always wonder if I would like working at home. Sure would beat my hour commute. I have a feeling I would get easily distracted though by housework/chores, ya know anything to avoid doing real work. I would have to have a separate space designated for work I guess. Coffee shops probably great for that. I definitely envy those who can work from home, seems so cozy.
    *not sure my first comment post. If it did sorry for the duplicate comment.

  2. I understand. While I have an office, I'm the only person in it so that can be isolating. Then again, like you, I dislike small talk with co-workers. I've had that environment and this is more productive. I hope you enjoy the freedom you have.

  3. I hear ya. I also work from home and I do not miss the commute nor the office culture. I am perfectly perfect in my own little environment.

    Ps - your cat is adorable!

  4. YES-- I worked from home for about a year and every single one of these resonates with me! I loved the flexibility, sleeping later due to no commute and working in PJs but its hard to draw that line and before I was married the only people I talked to regularly were the grocery store check out guy lol. I'd love to hear more about how you try to structure your "work day" even if it's different hours - I found I had to make myself sit at my desk away from the TV or I'd be tempted to turn it on "in the back ground". Totally feel you on the cat too - a blessing and a painful curse - the best was when I was cat sitting and they got into an all out brawl while I was on a conference call!

  5. Great post! I'm always jealous of people who work form home and then I realize how much more organized at life they probably. Being able to balance work and play is so much more difficult when you're home all the time. Glad to see you take such a humorous stance on the work/play thing. Also, adorable cat, in the first, not the second pic. haha

  6. Ah! This reminds me of our chat yesterday- drawing those boundaries is HARD. I just switched to a desktop when my laptop died at Christmas and I already miss working at coffee shops- they were my favourite place to work too :)

  7. I love how you've stated some points as both pros and cons, because they can definitely be both! I'd love to work from home! I recently cut my hrs in my day job a little to have one day a week 'off' to focus on my photography and charity work. But I'm still doing my job in less hours, so the days I'm here I'm crazy busy. The merits of this are still to be determined.

    How did you start working as a freelance writer?

    Also, your cat 8-D so adorable!


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