Freelancing is one thing. But accepting a job that would let you work from home full-time is another. The first doesn’t demand specific work hours and routine, the latter does.
It’s an exciting prospect if you’ve been offered the opportunity to telecommute. You don’t need to leave home and spend a dreadful day in an office where some bossypants will order you around. You can scroll through your FB timeline without the IT guy slapping you a memo for unnecessary use of office resources, which is the Internet.
Let us count the ways working from home is an ideal scenario:
- No commuting – sayonara traffic!
- Flexible time – you can use your time for other stuff
- Fewer expenses – no need to dress up, free food (if you live with the family), no transportation expense
- More quality time – you’re home all day, so you can spend time with the family
I did it for two years. I got a job with a US-based company that formed a virtual team here. There’s a small rented office in Makati manned by two people, but the rest were working from home. They paid for my Internet connection, and I got paid in USD.
Just great, right? But over a year into it, I was feeling…weird. About me, about the world out there, about people. And, so, after two years I accepted a job in a publishing company that got me traveling every day to the far corner of Manila. It was almost an extreme change, but I felt liberated.
The realization that working from home, despite all the benefits, was not something I would want to do any minute longer. The perks were great, yet in the end, the resulting effects were not worth it. So, before you sign on that dotted line, let me share why working from home is not for everyone. Maybe not for you, too.
You’re on call 24/7
Remember that bit about flexible hours? Well, not really. Since you’re at home, you’re almost on call 24 hours a day. It’s not the rule, but it’s implied. You may have the entire day in quiet bliss, but then they’ll ask you to rush something 10 minutes before you log off.
If you service clients abroad, they can call you up in the middle of the night for something “urgent”, or to have a conference call at 2 AM because that’s when everyone else from the other side of the Pacific is wide awake.
Therefore, you actually work longer. Because being flexible can mean you’re expected to be available anytime and anywhere.
It can be more stressful
The stress of working from home is higher. Your bosses are more demanding because they want to make sure you’re doing your job, and doing it right. Add to that the family obligations you are forced to take on because, well, you’re there! Why not do your part with the errands and chores?
And when there’s conflict at home, there’s no shutting the door and telling everyone to stay out. You’ll have to deal with it, too. You’re forced to balance your professional and personal responsibilities – at that same moment.
It’s bad for your health
Unless you’re naturally athletic and you go to the gym regularly, telecommuting will make you fat. You sit all day, you only eat what’s available (which is unlikely healthy), and getting up and going to the bathroom is your only form of exercise.
Even if you do those 5-minute exercises you find online (which I did, BTW), they’re not enough to keep you fit.
Call the fashion police, you’re a disaster
Going out will seem such an inconvenience for you. You suddenly have to think of what to wear. You’ve been in your PJs all week you don’t feel like getting up to doll up and get dressed. And when you do, you realize you’re growing out of your clothes because, duh, you’ve gained weight!
For regular people like me who didn’t obsess with OOTDs, it was a pain trying to look decent for a night out with friends. It was just too much work.
You become a social retard
I can speak about this from experience. Working from home made me unsociable. Worse, I lost my social skills. I didn’t know how to talk to people, I couldn’t complete an entire sentence to save my life, and I became fearful of confrontation.
I thought it was just me. But during the once-a-month meetings with my colleagues in that box-like office, I realized we were all suffering from the same malady. We barely spoke to each other, which was a contrast to our silly online chats. It was like being face-to-face with the people you talked to, even joked with, everyday online was the most unnatural thing in the world.
The last reason hit me the hardest. In connection to that, I felt like I lost my survival instinct. The old street smart me was suddenly a sheep among wolves when I’m outside. I was so cocooned in my room that dealing with people physically became mentally taxing.
So, with my next job, I resolved to rehabilitate myself. Working for a magazine I had to go out, interview people, commute to where the story was, and trust my wits. Telecommuting had its attractions, but it’s not something I would wish on myself again.