Today I would like to discuss the myths and facts of being a work-from-home professional. Why me? Well, I’ve been working from home for almost 30 years. I know many of you think this new forced isolation we are facing will be a breeze, but it’s going to be difficult and one day, you might find yourself losing your grip on reality, so let me talk to you about the Myths and Facts of working from home and maybe I can help you avoid some of the pitfalls.
MYTH 1 – You Don’t Need to Get Out of Your Pajamas
Fact: This is bullshit. Yes, I said the bad word. If you want to be a professional, psyche yourself into being a professional at home and put on clothes. I’m not advocating designer suits but I am advocating clean underwear, or any underwear, or any clothes that can be seen without embarrassment outside your domicile. Also, run a brush through your hair; shave your face or legs or whatever. Why? Because you won’t itch and you won’t feel as if 10,000 bedbugs invaded your home along with the Corona virus. You don’t have to do your own bikini wax or thread your own eyebrows but a little personal grooming will go a long way to your physical and mental health. Keep this in mind: the first day you decide that hygiene and grooming is not important is the day your boss is going to have a mandatory video conference call with all your colleagues without any notice. Be prepared.
MYTH 2 – It’s Easy to Get Work Done at Home
Fact: This is bullshit. Oops, said it again. Why is it bullshit? Because every freaking electronic device is now surrounding you from music, to TV, to phone, and all those social media apps your company blocks at work are no longer blocked. It’s so much more enticing and much easier to rant on Twitter (Yes, I know this for a fact) or scroll through Instagram, or shop on Amazon for products they don’t have in stock anymore, or see what funny antics Ellen posted on her Facebook page than it is to do your job.
MYTH 3 – You and Your Spouse or Significant Other Can Work in the Same Room
Fact: This is bullshit – Geez, I am so sorry—I don’t care if you and the love of your life like to spend every waking moment together. When it comes to work…separate! Go to your different corners so you don’t have to hear each other work. It is amazing what we find out about our spouses’ work life when we are forced to witness it.
An important addendum: This also goes for sharing workspace with your now-isolated children. For God’s sake find your own space. I recommend the bathroom. Everything you need to survive this holy hell is in the bathroom.
Myth 4 – You Can Be More Disciplined at Home with Food Choices
Fact: This is bullshit. Junk food is everywhere in your home. You might have thought you tossed it all out, but you didn’t. You can have 10,000 grapes in the fridge but if the cupboard still has two boxes of Girl Scout Thin Mints, you are going to eat the Thin Mints especially when clients, colleagues or bosses drive you crazy or when something like writer’s block hits your brain. What can you do?
Gate off the kitchen—and I’m not talking those little baby or doggie gates. I’m talking tall, steel fencing that requires you to hurl yourself over the top with significant risk of broken bones when you land on the other side.
Allow yourself only two trips to the fridge/freezer per day (if you can hurl yourself over the fencing). Why two visits? You need limits because in those two visits you will find so many items you have forgotten from frozen pizza, to the ice-crusted ice cream cones from last summer, to the hidden stash of Halloween candy you thought you gave away to the neighborhood kids. You don’t want to eat all that in one day. Parse it out especially for long-term isolation.
MYTH 5 – You Will Love Being Isolated and You Will Get So Much Done
Fact: This is bullshit. I’m done apologizing for language. If you are an experienced work-from-home professional, you have gotten accustomed to the isolation. You have your regular coffee and breakfast breaks with other work-from-homers who speak your language and understand your life. You know the people at Starbucks and you can laugh and pass time at places like the convenience store or dry cleaners. But if you are a novice, you will experience the adjustment of all adjustments. No pre-work chatter; no lunch chatter; no coffee room banter; no happy birthday celebrations; no team-building catered lunches. No…it’s just you and if you are lucky your dog. I would say cat, but cats don’t give a damn if you are home or not. They feign interest but they don’t care.
I get you. Please feel free to ask me for advice as you face the work-from-home challenge. Remember, we might all be isolated, but we are still in it together.