The way the headlines were screaming about the work-from-home controversies companies were facing, you’d think the entire American workforce had been sitting around in their pajamas, vowing to die before they’d once again commute.
While the number of people who work from home did indeed triple from 2019 to 2021, going from about 6% to nearly 18%, the majority of folks still put on real shoes and head into work.
That means only about 12% of the workforce was new to the work-from-home experience. But perhaps some of those were resisting going back into the office loud enough to sound like all the workers in the world (or at least the nation).
And who can blame them? Working from home is a blissful blessing indeed. So much so, it’s been my main way of working since 2009. As blissful as it is, it does come with some requirements.
You need an ergonomic office setup (I’ve found you can get double tendonitis working from the kitchen table). You need pajamas that don’t look like pajamas on Zoom.
You need massive amounts of self-discipline. And, like I did, you probably need to go through some type of learning curve.
The first thing you learn is how much work you can get done when you’re away from all the office distractions. Chattering coworkers. Ringing phones. Your boss calling you into his office every five minutes. Nice.
The next thing you learn is how much you work you CAN’T get done when you’re surrounding by home life distractions. Barking dogs. Dinging doorbell. Dogs barking at the dinging doorbell.
The picture on the far left wall that’s slightly crooked and needs immediate adjusting. The leftover pizza calling your name. The theme song from “Peaky Blinders” coming from the bedroom where your beau is watching TV.
Jealousy is another potential distraction. How come YOU have to work while the dogs are merrily lying on the couch (or barking) and your beau is kicking back watching TV?
One more hazard of working from home is the isolation, especially if you’re used to being around people all day. The effects of isolation can creep up on you without you even realizing it.
When I lived alone in my early days of working from home, that’s exactly what it did to me. I found that out at the supermarket, my first outing around real-live people after about a week of isolation. I ended up excitedly blathering at the cashier for about 27 minutes straight.
I remember her very polite smile. I also remember thinking I needed to regularly connect with other people, connections that went beyond a Zoom call. I also set up little focus rituals and games to keep my mind on my work and not on the pizza in the fridge.
As for killing off the jealousy of those who get to play while I work, I have adopted little ways to deal with it. I remind myself my beau put in his time and is allowed to enjoy his retirement. I remind myself that “Peaky Blinders” gets kind of meh after season two.
You can also find different ways to turn work into play as much as possible. Work outside on non-sweltering days. Outfit your desk with a snazzy lamp, crystals, LED light-up things, and a mini altar that keeps you motivated.
Reward yourself with a macadamia nut Cliff bar, outdoor yoga stretch, or a cup of butter pecan coffee for every X amount of time worked. Take regular hug-your-dogs breaks.
And remember to count your blessings. No morning traffic jams. Slippers instead of real shoes. The joy of lounging in your garden when you need a break. And, of course, leftover pizza close at hand for the most fabulous work-from-home lunch.