I have it made… I really do! I get to have my cake and eat it too. Not many people have it as good as I do when it comes to their jobs. When I told my boss that I was pregnant, he literally did a TomCruiseOprahCouchJump! His reaction stands out as the most memorable one from my pregnancy announcement. Around my third semester, he started encouraging me to work from home and outfitted me with the same set-up as I have at work- two monitors and all! He’s been so amazingly supportive of this transition that working from home has quickly become the new normal for our whole family.
Now, when I tell people about my sweet arrangement the reaction I get is almost always one of envy. I get it. Working in pajamas sounds incredibly indulgent. But, as a new mom, nothing compares to being close to my baby. I have help during business hours, but it’s just nice to be around my son every day. I get to be present in his life every day. I get to wake up with him, steal sweet kisses during lunch time and extra cuddles throughout the day and put him to bed at night. I feel so accomplished at the end of the day! I also get to save on precious commute time, all of which translates into a better work-life blend.
Those amazing perks aside, working from home comes with its own set of challenges. For starters, there is absolutely no separation between work-life and personal-life. Most days I’m loading the dishwasher in between calls and emails, or washing bottles while on a conference call. I’m constantly forgetting to eat lunch and my to do lists seems never ending both at home and work. While technology affords me the ability to stay productive from wherever, it does not provide the social interaction I crave as a human being. When I’m in the office I find myself talking
a lot to everyone and sometimes, at home it gets pretty lonely. Finally, there is a lot to be said about staying relevant in your job and being remote can hinder your prospects.
So, here are three things I’ve implemented to help me maintain my sanity while managing the challenges mentioned above.
- Pick up the phone: In the age of email and texting, picking up the phone might seem somewhat archaic, but this is precisely what’s helping me combat my isolation. I make it a point to have at least 5 phone calls a day to various people, including my coworkers. While nothing can make up for face-time, having a chat with my favorite broker about an account keeps me energized. Forcing myself to call my counterparts allows me to stay plugged into the office. I can plan trips to the office on those days when my absence will be noticed.
- Blend your life: Let me go ahead and say that work-life balance is a hoax. The sooner you feel empowered to blend the two the happier you’ll be. My home office is in a dedicated corner of my bedroom. While some may think this is unwise, it’s helped me achieve the blend. When my son sleeps, I work. I’m just a few steps away from him in case he wakes up. Most morning, I roll out of bed and on to my work desk to get a quick pulse on my inbox. Whenever I’m on a conference call I’m multi-tasking on mundane chores like throwing in a load of laundry or putting away the baby’s things. It has helped me stay organized.
- Unschedule yourself: Every article I read on tips for working from home says to keep dedicated hours for work and life. While this sounds good in theory, it’s absolutely impractical. I make every effort to be present during office hours, but I don’t beat myself up over missing a phone call or email. I do, however, have a policy of returning calls within 1 hour or respond to emails within 24 hours. This gives me so much more control of my LIFE. I don’t feel guilty if I have to take my son to the doctor or run to the store for a quick errand during work hours. I also don’t feel bad if I have to stay up late to catch up. Most nights, I’m up working until midnight anyway. It’s all part of the new normal.
Seven years ago, when I first moved to New York, a friend suggested that I write down the type of career I want. I was unemployed at the time and was at my lowest point. He urged me to be specific, asking me to describe every last detail of the kind of work environment I envisioned. Recently, I came across that document and specifically, I had written… “to be able to work from home would be ideal for a happy family life.” How incredibly blessed I am to be able to live my dream!
What are some tips you have for working from home?