Why Working From Home Is Harder Than You Think

Updated on January 10, 2019
Carson Lloyd profile image

Carson Lloyd is a freelance writer who primarily works from home and is trying to make the best of it. It’s a work-in progress.

There is a rumor going around, you know. It’s been floating around for some time now, and it seems to be shared by a surprisingly vast array of mouths in a great variety of places. At water coolers, in gym locker rooms, in the pews of a church, and even on online discussion forums. The rumor is a simple one, really; it is that working from home is somehow easier and less stressful than working from a more traditional, out of the home location.

Speaking only from personal experience and many work-centric horror stories, I can personal vouch for the fact that this rumor could not be any more bogus.

Yes, it is true that when you work from home there are certain privileges, certain comforts, that are allotted to you. Worrying about commutes and gas money are fears of the past, the dress code becomes incredibly more lax and sweat pant friendly, and the novelty of being able to earn a living while spread out on a couch never looses its luster.

But while these advantages are all true and not at all deserving of scorn, they do not exactly paint the entire picture. For there are other layers of reality when working from home that too often go unspoken, and when these are learned, they may just change your perspective on the entire experience.

Distractions (So Many Distractions)

You might think that you are a strong-willed person. You might think you have discipline and a sturdy sense of self control. I thought that once about myself, as well. But you have never known that will to be tested, you have never truly discovered just how easily manipulated we people can be, until you have been faced with the multitude of distractions your home will attempt to throw at you while you work.

The cat or the dog, emboldened by your presence, will ensure you know how much they would just love to play and eat and go outside. The door will be constantly knocked upon by callers you didn’t even know existed, informing you that there’s a food drive going on throughout the neighborhood or that some work is being done on the nearby electrical grid. You will discover dishes that need doing, laundry that needs laundered, and lovely snacks in the fridge that need snacking. And don’t even get me started on the “Let me just open up this other tab real quick” effect, where you plan on taking a quick break from work by popping over to another tab to watch a fun video, read an article, or check some online shopping prices, only to discover soon after that over a half an hour has passed. All these forces and more will do their best to constantly derail and distract you from the motions of progress when attempting to work from the comfort of your own home, and they are absolutely relentless.

Support is Harder to Come By

Say your working in an office, and your computer crashes. Or the printer breaks down. Or a client you were working with suddenly goes off the rails and you are left scrambling to pick up the pieces. Inside that office environment, while perhaps never ideal or perfect, there nonetheless do typically exist certain support systems that help to alleviate these daily problems. There is usually a coworker somewhere around that’s pretty good at fixing computers, and another one who’s pretty good at fixing printers. There’s a manager or a supervisor who will help to offer guidance on how to deal with an irate client, or some other form of chain of command when a serious problem crops up. These are resources that are, often times (though admittedly not every time) available to one working in a traditional office surrounded by coworkers.

In a work from home environment, however, this is not always the case. Typically when some kind of issue arises or problems begin to brew, the only immediate and rightly available support is yourself. If your computer setup is on the fritz, you need to fix it. If the copier is out of ink, you need to replenish it. And if a client stirs up a fuss and calls you over the phone in a rage, while there are ways to reach out to supervisors even from home, you are still nonetheless there alone to bear the brunt of it. This lack of more immediate support systems and the feeling of isolation that comes with it can lay down some reasonably harsh burdens on one’s ability to enjoy the work from home environment.

Unstructured Work Days Sound Cooler on Paper

Despite how much we gripe about them and bemoan their existence, for many people in the work force there is a certain kind of comfort that comes with a having well-structured, and occasionally somewhat predictable work days. There is a calmness, a difficult to articulate tranquility, many feel when they know the forecast of their day and just how it play itself out. They know that their shift starts at this time and lunch starts at that time, they know when the boss packs up for the day and when garbage gets taken out. This routine can become a reliable and soothing, if albeit uninspired, element to their daily lives and to imagine a day without it would quite the challenge.

It is for this reason that many would find the transition to at home work rather difficult. Because working at home usually means that the structure of your day (when you take lunch, when you get up in the morning, ect.) is often up to you. How you go about planning your day so that the necessary deadlines are met and the required work hours have been completed is something that is completely your own prerogative, and for some people this kind of freedom, while at first appealing, is too much to handle. Becoming a self-regulated and self-structured worker does not always come as easy to some as many would think, and for these people it can make the work from home experience to be an altogether unpleasant one.

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