The (Slightly More) Professional Guide to Working from Home
It seems that working from home — that dreamy day job to which we all used to aspire, and perhaps some of us still do — has fallen on hard times. According to a recent article in The New York Times, a paper with a long history of articles about the trend in co-working arrangements, working from home is overrated, bewildering, isolating, and in some cases downright horrid.Yahoo's Marissa Mayer may be against working from home, but she's not the only one. As a disgruntled work-from-homer told the Times, "I would get distracted by dust bunnies under the desk and end up vacuuming in the middle of the day, or look at myself in the mirror at 7 p.m. and realize I was still in pajamas." The pretzels were too tempting. The Xbox called. Bed, oh, bed. It's easily swayed folks like this who are keeping the shared office in business!
But let's just say you don't want to deal with the difficulties of finding a shared office space, or paying for it, or putting on pants in the morning. Are there ways to make your work-from-home routine a bit more productive, and you, yourself, ever so slightly more efficient, all the while remaining firmly planted upon your own couch? I talked to a few of the Internet's most skilled work-from-homers (as it happens, I am no slouch in this regard either, though I often dress like one when I work from home) for their best filing-from-the-couch advice.
Get Dressed in Some Form or Fashion. I'll admit I usually break this rule when I do find myself working from home. I roll out of bed in sweatpants and a T-shirt, move my laptop to my lap as I sit on the couch, and if it's a working-from-home day (as it was frequently during my recent book leave), I'll stay that way until maybe noon, when, yes, I might put on something a little nicer, particularly if I've ordered in food and will feel ashamed about my outfit. I have experimented with donning workout clothes first thing in the morning; this has the added benefit of making you feel sporty and energetic even if you never get to the gym! STFU, Parents blogger and author Blair Koenig tells me, "One thing I'll always remember is when I told a woman at a party that I work from home, she was super confused and asked me all these questions. She was like, 'So do you make sure to get to your desk by 9 on the dot?', 'Do you get dressed right away?' and—my favorite— 'Do you wear shoes?' Haha. Get dressed when you get out of bed. It makes you feel more alert, and it allows you to open the door for packages without scrambling for a bra." As for the shoes, is there broken glass in the house? Then you should probably go into the office. As for that woman at that party, she should perhaps get out of her own house more often.
Consider Your Resources. In the wise words of Grantland work-from-homer Rembert Browne, "Have good enough internet, but not incredible internet. You need to leave the house sometimes, and the Time Warner Cable/Internet package will see to it that you do, because it will stop working every 97 minutes, forcing even the staunchest homebody out for fresh air or even a change of location." Take these lessons further, across your entire work-from-home mantra. Have a good enough computer, but not an incredible computer. Have a good enough desk, but not an incredible desk. Have a good enough mug of coffee next to you, but not an incredible one (it would only be incredible if it was bottomless, and also full of money, right?), because whether you're in the office or working from home, it's good to get up now and again, to stretch your legs and get some air and another cup of coffee. For the prevention of blood clots and whatnot.
Take Advantage of the Great Opportunities that Have Befallen You! Because you can. Because you can. "People who work from home often don't have set hours, and therefore work longer hours, so fuck it, have a glass of champagne with your sandwich for lunch," says Koenig. Or a beer with your afternoon snack. I'd suggest, also, picking up dry-cleaning or making a trip to the post office mid-day, running out for a sandwich around 3 p.m. in your sweatpants, scheduling a non-rush-hour-timed doctor's appointment, and even taking a coffee meeting around the corner from your home-workplace when and if you feel like it, because you can. (And you can work outside, too.) If you have a dog and you work from home, pet your dog.
Image via Nadezhda1906/Shutterstock.com