Yes, you read that title right.
It seems a bit sacrilegious to have such an article on a page that promotes and facilitates working from home, but we would be remiss if we didn’t cover all our bases. Because much as we extol the benefits of remote working, we also have to acknowledge that it’s not for everyone.
How Do I Know If WFH Isn’t For Me?
By now, you’ve probably heard loads of people raving about remote working, and with good reason. For starters, it offers a lot of flexibility, especially for parents with small children or people taking care of elderly relatives. It’s also allowed plenty of cost savings for companies since they no longer have to pay for rent or utilities for their remote staff.
However, as with anything else, working from home does have its downsides. First, it can be isolating and frustrating for some people. Rather than just walking over to a colleagues’ cubicle and asking a question, you’d have to email them and wait for a reply. (Though, this can be mitigated if the team uses an instant chat platform.) We have to remember that a lot of people derive social interaction from work. Sometimes, it’s their only form of such, so it can be difficult once it’s taken away.
Secondly, some people find it harder to maintain boundaries when they work from home. Ironically, a lot actually end up working more. I mean, how can you leave your work at the office when you live there too? Thus, this can lead to some burning out from remote work.
Lastly, it’s possible for some people to incur more expenses when they work from home. Sure, you save on commuting expenses and eating out, but quite a few end up blowing this to alleviate the isolation. There are remote workers, for instance, who go stir-crazy being home all day that they go out for dinner just to leave the house. And so, they end up spending more.
If you can relate to any or all of the things mentioned above, it’s possible that remote working isn’t for you. The question now is, what can you do about it? Especially if your current job happens to be remote?
What Can I Do About This?
Ideally, you should look into re-entering the conventional workplace. Perhaps keep your eyes peeled and your CV updated for such opportunities.
However, I wouldn’t recommend giving up your remote working gig right now. No matter how uncomfortable it might be for you, don’t quit your WFH job unless you’ve got a couple of irons in the fire already.
In the meantime, there are some things you can do to cope better:
1. Be a little bit more creative about getting your social interaction fix.
Impatient with email? Why not ask your remote workmates to set up a group chat? Not only would it make you feel less lonely, but it can also speed up communication. This way, you can get an instant reply on urgent matters, as though you just reached across to the next cubicle. Total win-win.
If this isn’t possible (or if you work mostly alone), you can play some music while you work or put the TV on. I also know a graphic artist who puts her favorite podcasts on as she works. Just figure out whatever works for you, and then go with it.
2. Come up with your own rituals for starting and ending your work day.
Frustrated with the lack of boundaries? Feel free to make your own. Get dressed in a work uniform before you start working. Take a short walk outside the house after your work is done for the day. Do whatever it takes to shift your mind to and from work as needed.
That’s the beauty of remote work, after all. There are far less rules to go around, leaving you free to make your own.
3. Set ground rules with your family.
This is crucial if you’ve got small kids. It can be trickier to get them to understand why they shouldn’t bother you while you’re working, but simple cues help. One woman wears a tiara to signal that she’s busy. Another parent leaves red magnets on a whiteboard outside the door if he doesn’t want people barging in.
Of course, if you hanker for social stimulation at work, clearer boundaries, and a little more structure, there’s no shame in going back to the office. There are still quite a few jobs out there that require your actual physical presence, and we all need people who can carry them out well.
For everyone else, though, there’s Remote Staff. *wink*wink*