I've written a few blog posts about working remotely. For the most part, those posts have focused on the difficulties I've had with remote work, with a little bit thrown in about the parts that aren't as bad. But as I was folding one of my three loads of laundry last week, I realized that I have found some advantages in working remotely. Today I wanted to share some of those advantages as a reminder to myself that despite missing the office, I am doing well with remote work.
Among all the chaos and difficulty of working from home, here are some things I've really come to love about my remote work lifestyle:
- I don't have to do my laundry on weekends. This sounds like not a big deal, but it really is a game changer. When I'm full-time in an office, I get home too late to be able to do laundry at night and still be able to put it away and go to bed at a decent time. So either I'm rushing to get home and throw my laundry in the wash right away (and still get to bed late), or I have to do it on weekends, and hopefully not interfere with my roommate who is also often doing her laundry on weekends (for the same reason). Working remotely, I can put my laundry in the washing machine before work, move it to the dryer between meetings, and either fold it during lunch or just take it out and leave it to fold after work. This may not sound like a lot, but just removing the burden of being limited as to when I can do my laundry has given me peace of mind that I didn't realize I needed.
- Fresh lunch. I rarely eat takeout (I almost bring my own lunch to work), and I don't use the office microwave, which means I'm usually eating cold or room temperature lunch made anywhere from 4 hours to 12 hours ahead of time. I don't mind it, but even when I'm eating something fairly fresh (like a salad), I don't really feel like I'm eating a fresh-made lunch, especially because I'm usually eating it out of a container or tin foil. I still do a lot of meal prep while working remote, but reheating my food before I eat it, putting the finishing touches on a dish, or even just putting on a real plate and eating with real silverware makes a huge difference in how I see my lunch and makes me feel a lot better about what I'm eating (even if it's not always the healthiest of meals).
- It's easier to take an actual lunch break. One of the disadvantages of bringing my lunch from home is that it's easy to pull it out of my bag and eat it at my desk. I did sometimes try to make an effort to sit in the kitchen and eat with my coworkers, but it was an effort (for a variety of reasons) and sometimes I just didn't have the mental energy to force myself to eat with others. When my lunch is not in my "office" (aka bedroom) and I have to actually get up and go to the kitchen to get lunch, it's a lot easier for me to stay out of the office and not eat while working (I do a lot of my TV watching during lunch). Which isn't to say that I don't still work through lunch sometimes, I just do it less often than I did when I was in the office.
- It's easier to work completely uninterrupted. I will admit, I don't find myself being interrupted too regularly at the office (other than by meetings, which I still have), but I do occasionally feel like there are distractions and interruptions, particularly when there's an interesting conversation happening near my desk. Working remotely, I'm in charge of the distractions, and if I don't want to be interrupted by my teammates, I can just close slack for a little while and be officially "out of the office" while still getting work done.
- Headphones not required. I like listening to music while I work. At the office that means having headphones on, which gets a little annoying by the end of the day (and I do have comfortable headphones), so I often won't have my music on all day. Working remotely, I can use either my Google Home Mini or the speaker on my computer to play my music without interrupting anyone else. I find that I'm more productive with the right playlist, so being able to listen to my music all day without having to wear my headphones the whole time helps make my remote work experience better. (I do have headphones that I use for meetings because I prefer to use a microphone in meetings, but when I'm not in a meeting, the headphones are off.)
- Distractions feel like less of a problem. When I'm in the office, I feel guilty if I take a lot of breaks or if don't feel productive. When I'm working remote, being distracted or needing a break feels more normal. I expect there to be more distractions at home, just from the mere fact that my personal computer (complete with Netflix, Hulu, Facebook, etc) is only a few feet away, so I feel less bad about the days where I give in to the distractions and am less productive.
Don't get me wrong, I'm still looking forward to being back in the office. I absolutely prefer working from an office, at least most of the time, but since I know remote work will continue to be my reality for a while, it's nice to be able to focus on the advantages of remote work and see how it has had an effect on both my attitude towards work and my general well-being.