I’ve been working from home full-time for about two years now, and I love it. When I first started working from home, I got a lot of questions and advice from friends and family. Most often, people asked if I thought I’d enjoy working from home, and whether it would bother me to be alone all day long. Some asked if I’d have trouble focusing and being productive. People who’d worked from home themselves often predicted that I’d enjoy it at first, but would eventually wish to be back in an office with coworkers. With a solid chunk of time under my belt, it’s interesting to reflect on the experience so far.
I always thought I’d enjoy working from home. Being alone during the day doesn’t bother me terribly. I have a (fairly rambunctuous) cat, who keeps me entertained throughout the workday. I also interact frequently via phone, email, and instant messaging. Far from being isolated, I find working from home provides a nice balance of some human interaction without too many distractions.
On the whole, I’m more productive when I’m working from home than I was when I worked in an office. The simple reason is that there are fewer distractions. As a software developer, I’m usually at my most productive when I can block out other goings on and focus on the task at hand. Meetings and other conversations have their place, but when it comes down to really getting things done, quiet is key. Being at home without a lot of other peoplep coming and going makes concentration a lot easier. Of course, nobody can be focused 100% of the time, but that’s just human nature.
Being able to move around the house is a great benefit that I didn’t anticipate. Sometimes I start to feel stale sitting in the same spot for a long time. In those cases, a small change of scenery can do wonders, even a small change like leaving my desk and finding a spot downstairs instead. In an office, that’s tough because you’re usually stuck with a fixed workspace. At home, I have much more flexibility. I tend to move around once or twice a day, just to change it up and keep myself energized.
Working from home also lets me multi-task in some helpful ways. Instead of spending $6 at Starbucks when I need to take a break, I throw in some laundry and make a cup of coffee in my Keurig. I can zip out at lunchtime for a quick errand, and if it takes a little longer than expected, I can just work a bit later to offset the time.
Some of these benefits, to be sure, are specific to my circumstances. I’m lucky enough to work for a company that does a great job of both being flexible and promoting productivity, and to work with a fantastic group of colleagues. I’m also in an industry, technology, that’s particularly suited to working from home. Finally, there’s the matter of temperament. Not everyone would be happy in my situation, but I’m pleased to say it works for me. I wouldn’t describe myself as an introvert, exactly – more as someone who’s comfortable both alone and in groups. I have time with family and friends in the evenings and on weekends, and I have time alone to focus on work during the weekdays. It’s a balance that’s served me well over the past two years, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.