4 Lessons to Learn About Working From Home Before You Accept the Job

“Work from home.”, they said. “It’ll be easy!”, they said. “Man, were they right!” – said no one ever.

Cat Clayton

8:03, clocking in late again. It seemed that no matter what Sophie did – she just couldn’t make it to work on time. Or anywhere for that matter. (But that is for another story, for another time.) Just this morning the dog threw up, right as she was walking out the door. She cleaned that up, gave her pooch a little love, and headed out the door. Exactly 8 minutes later and 10 minutes away from work, she got a call from the school nurse. Avery had a fever and she would have to be picked up. She made a call to her husband and asked if he could pick her up on his way home. Matt worked nights and was just getting off so it worked out pretty well. As she clocked in though, she thought, “I wish I could just work from home. Things would be so much easier.”

Sound familiar? Often times, when real life has its ups and downs, people tend to think that working from home would just make everything easier. That isn’t necassarily the case. You need to have a few things in good working order and a few select skills before you can make the transition to a work-from-home job. Let’s debunk a few myths:

Myth #1: If I could work from home, I would never be late.

Truth #1: Looking back at Sophie’s morning, you may be thinking that if she worked from home then it wouldn’t have mattered if the dog threw up because she didn’t have a commute to work, so she couldn’t have been late. And you may also be thinking that she could have just ran and picked up Avery.

Not true. If you work from home, you still have obligations to the work that you do. Depending on how you work from home matters too. Some companies will hire you for hybrid work but expect you to be at your home desk working during your normal shift. You would need to be logged into your PC during the hours you should be working. There are even a few companies that require you to use a camera that they can log on to anytime during your working hours to make sure you are present. Even if your company doesn’t require you to log in at specific times, you still have a workload to do and need to set office hours that are just that. Taking time to take care of life situations that you normally wouldn’t be able to while at the office, really puts a pause button on the amount of work you are able to get done and the quality of work you submit.

Lesson #1: If you work from home, you absolutely MUST set office hours and stick to those hours. If unrelated life occurrences pop up, you should treat the situation just as you would if you worked out of a corporate office. If you think you can just roll with the punches, you’ll find yourself out of a work-at-home job pretty quick.

Myth #2: PJ’s here I come!

Truth #2: Not so much. You may think if you are just sitting around doing data entry, it doesn’t matter what you are wearing. You’ll just live in your pajamas and get so much work done because you are so comfortable. Not true. Studies show that when a person gets dressed up as if they were leaving the house, it puts them in a more professional mindset. You will get more accomplished in your silk top than you will in your 20-year-old New Kids On the Block pajama top. (Don’t hate, I was convinced I was going to marry Joey McIntyre when I was like 12.)

Lesson #2: Get dressed everyday! When I was 18 and decided to give a local direct sales company a go, I remember one of their sayings was, “Dress for the job you want tomorrow, not for the one you have today.” That stuck with me and I tell all of my tribe to “Get up, get dressed, and go get the day.” However, if the company you work for is ok with it or if you are self-employed, give yourself permission to wear jeans on Friday’s, or maybe if you reach a big goal you get to wear the bunny slippers all day as a reward.

Myth #3: No more meetings!

Truth #3: Wrong again. If you work for a company, it is almost guaranteed that they are going to want you to make occasional trips to the office for a company meeting or briefing. Or they may want you to get very friendly with Zoom or another virtual meeting platform. Even last-minute meetings will pop up and you will have to make the adjustments to attend, just like if you were at the office. While you can probably get by with wearing the bunny slippers under the table, you will need to be prepared for regular meetings – with actual people seeing your face.

If you don’t work for a company and you’ve decided to take your mad skills and jump into the world of entrepreneurship – you will DEFINITELY have meetings in your future. Now you have to fight to find the clients and you will have to meet with them to tell them why you are the one they should choose to run their marketing campaign or water their plants or whatever your mad skills are.

Lesson #3: Be prepared. Make sure your technology is always working well. Practice talking in front of the camera if you are nervous. You can use apps like Marco Polo to pretend you are giving a speech and then get a friend’s input. No matter what, just remember meetings are one of the things that help the world turn around. Collaboration is a must – no matter what. You won’t get away from them just because you work three feet from your kitchen.

Myth #4: It will be so nice not having Joanie from accounting popping her head in my office every 5 minutes.

Truth #4: Joanie knows how to instant message. Also, remember your daughter Avery, who is now home with a fever. If you were at the office talking to Joanie, Matt would most likely be home taking care of Avery and not getting any sleep. But, if you are at home, you are most likely going to be the one taking care of Avery while trying to balance your work. You have to find a work-life balance that works and set boundaries for yourself and your family. You will need to pretend that while you are working from home, you are actually at an office. Otherwise, your Thursday afternoon, might be full of laundry and dirty dishes, instead of getting your expense report finished and emailed to Joanie.

Lesson #4: Put your home office in a room (or closet) with a door that closes. If this isn’t an option, buy a room partition. If you can’t afford that, write BUSY and COME IN on two sticky notes and stick the appropriate one to your computer monitor so that when your family approaches, they will know if it is ok to talk with you. You can also do things like put sticky notes on the dishwasher and washing machine (and right in the middle of the tv) so that if you find yourself getting distracted, your “DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT” notes will get you back on task.

The bottom line is that working from home presents a whole different set of problems and solutions than working in an office does. Yes, there are a TON of PROS to working from home, but you need to learn how to navigate around the CONS.

There is something to be said about being able to pour your own Texas sweet brewed tea and having warm leftover meatloaf from the night before for lunch instead of having to eat a quick club sandwich on dry toast and drinking something that looks like sweet tea, but definitely doesn’t taste like it, from the local cafe. And stepping out into your home garden to pull tomatoes for dinner that night is a nice way to spend your 15-minute break. Also, being home to get the new Kate Spade purse you allowed yourself to buy as a reward for hitting your goals last month, and not having to worry about a porch pirate is nice. So go – get that work-from-home job!! Just make sure you put your little duckies in a row and stay on task. You’ll do great.

Now I’m off to check out the new Kate Spade sale. Super excited about it.