Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Perils of Working From Home

I left the house yesterday for reasons other than attending a church event or grocery shopping. Sometimes, I have to make up stuff to do so I can remember how to be a real person; there's only so long you can go without brushing your hair or putting on pants with a zipper before you turn into a big pile of Oreo cookie and flannel.

While I was going through the terrible inconvenience normal routine of putting on real clothing,* I started thinking about the perils of working from home. I wouldn't want to give it up, because the pitfalls of working in a corporate environment were staggering, but some of the issues I've experienced in freelancing are unexpected and, quite possibly, against the laws of physics. There also seems to be a work-from-home rule that states every benefit is offset by a detriment.

Here's a look at some of the benefit/detriment pairs I've discovered so far.

Benefit: You can wear your PJs to work.
Detriment: There's a fine line between "Yay, comfort!" and "All my pants are made of flannel."

Benefit: You don't have to manage according to some rigid schedule of time.
Detriment: It seems when you work from home, time is also off the hook for adherence to itself. Or, as my brother-in-law put it in response to my surprise that it was already 4 p.m., "Seriously wtf. I was up at 7 and apparently fell into a wormhole, now it's 4pm."**

Benefit:  You are your own boss.
Detriment: You are your own boss. If you don't immediately see what could go wrong with that, you probably aren't ready to take the plunge. Aside from letting myself get away with playing on the Internet and making the executive decision that midday baths count as productivity, there's a whole problem with not having outside feedback. Admittedly, if you have a real jerk of a boss, this may be a good thing; for the most part, I had decent bosses who always recognized when a job took a lot of effort. Now, I feel like I send work into a vortex. There may or may not be people receiving and appreciating the work, but since I'm receiving payment, I try not to let it bother me.

Benefit: You can do what you love.
Detriment: People may not pay you for what you love, so you'll still have to do some things you only marginally like. There are always times you have to do things you don't like at all, but since you're the boss, it can be hard to motivate yourself in that direction.

Benefit: You save money on eating out and you don't have to eat a cold sandwich or packed lunch; you also don't have the temptation of office vending machines.
Detriment: Falling into the wormhole often means you forget lunch altogether. I'm quite susceptible to an unhealthy cycle of forgetting food for hours before moving into that place where I know I'm hungry, but nothing in the house looks appetizing and I can't be bothered to make a real meal anyway. At times like this, I do something like crumble half a package of saltines in a bowl and pour hot chicken stock over it. Because, hey, soup's healthy. And chicken stock is sort of a protein.

Benefit: You can work in the privacy and quiet of your own home.
Detriment: Sometimes when I'm alone, working in the privacy of my home, I hear disembodied breathing. I haven't found the source yet, although it's possible the cat is a huge mouth breather who can throw his voice. Regardless, it's creepy and distracts me from my work.***

*   Real clothing = Pants with a zipper, t-shirt without a tea stain, flip-flops. Close enough.
** He works from home too, although I've never seen him in flannel pants.
*** This particular issue may be unique to my situation.

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