Have you been working from home for the past almost two years? For those of us who have, we’ve become acquainted with quite a different lifestyle than we were used to pre-pandemic. I think I speak for most people when I say that when the pandemic first started and we were sent to work from home, I was thrilled. No more getting dressed up and commuting to a cold office where I’d stare into the abyss that was my computer screen(s)? Sign me up!
Of course, there was the added benefit of lessening my chances of catching COVID-19 and being able to keep my family members safe. That was and still is such a blessing.
Being able to sleep a bit later, not having to dress up in stiff business casual attire, and being able to make my meals at home. The dream. Something I had only experienced once a week – I used to work from home every Friday. Something I was excited to experience every day indefinitely. It’s been nice. It’s also been absolute hell.
I don’t know if it’s because it’s been almost two years of this or if it’s something else, but I think I’m over working from home every single day. At least while working for someone else. I don’t know about you, but I have developed a disdain for working from home. Let me tell you my reasons why.
5 Reasons why I hate working from home
There’s just so many meetings
I’ve noticed a stark increase in the number of meetings scheduled since working from home compared to Before Times. I feel like people schedule meetings for any and everything. Got a question? Schedule a meeting! Don’t want to work on something alone? Schedule a meeting! Don’t want to send an email? Schedule a meeting!
All of these meetings result in you being strapped to your seat and unable to get out of the Microsoft Teams matrix for most of the day. It’s become extremely draining to be on the phone ALL DAY. And, it seems there’s never enough time to do the actual work that you’re paid to do.
It’s come to the point where I miss the good ol’ days of constant interruptions at my desk in the office. At least they only last a few minutes and aren’t scheduled for 30 minutes to an hour. Also, no one talks about how annoying it is to try to mimic in-person meetings over Zoom or Teams. Ever try to speak up and voice your opinion in one of these? No one knows when anyone is about to speak, so everyone ends up speaking over one another. Awkward!
So many distractions
Back when we were all working in the office, it was normal to have coworkers come to your desk or phone you when they had a question. It was annoying sometimes, but things like headphones, going to the bathroom when you saw them coming in the distance, and looking busy often saved us. Now that people can’t lay eyes on you, they aren’t deterred from interrupting you.
In come all of the pings/instant messages, calls, and emails. And it’s expected that you’re just sitting in your seat the entire 9 hours you’re scheduled to work, so if you don’t answer right away, it seems to cause a great deal of anxiety. Example: a coworker will email you. If you haven’t responded in at least an hour, they’ll ping/instant message you to let you know they’ve emailed you. If you don’t answer the ping/instant message, they’ll call you. You can’t make this stuff up.
And not only does everyone think you’re available at any moment throughout the day, they also think you’re available after hours just because you’ve got a green check next to your name at 5:15pm. Can we normalize accessibility not equating to availability? Can we also normalize getting paid to do work rather than getting paid to talk about it all day long?
Lack of movement throughout the day
Because we’re all stuck in one spot anxiously tapping at our keyboards, responding to messages coming at us from multiple people simultaneously, it’s hard to do what humans were meant to be doing instead of sitting around: moving.
Now don’t get me wrong, working from the office also hinders being able to move like a normal human being. But I find that when working from home, I move less compared to when I was at the office. The bathroom is closer, the fridge is less than 10 feet away, I can’t walk to my coworkers desks, and there’s no walking from my car to the office. That’s a substantial decrease in the number of steps. And then there’s the part I mentioned earlier about being tethered to your computer all day.
Feeling imprisoned in your own home
When people tell me they work from home, they talk about being able to workout in the middle of the day, cooking, cleaning, etc. My question to them is “how?!” I honestly feel like a prisoner in my own home. This is mostly because my home is also my workspace. But it also speaks to the fact that I need *at least* two screens to do my job, I’m in meetings most of the day, and e-mails and pings just never end.
Do people just ignore their work? Is that how they’re able to have such a thriving home-life during work hours? If you know, please let me in on the secret! There are days when I’m so busy I barely have time to use the bathroom or eat. Some days, I have big plans to make pancakes for breakfast and it never happens LOL. This lack of breaks in my day leaves me feeling like an inmate, rather than someone working on the cutting edge of healthcare.
Not being able to socialize (with people other than family)
If anyone thinks that a Zoom call is a sound replacement for actual human contact, I fear for our future. Before working from home full-time, I didn’t realize how much of a positive impact that chatting with people throughout the day had on my mental health, even if it’s just small talk at the “water cooler.” Oh, and happy hours were a saving grace for my sanity at the office.
This is especially difficult for those of us who have started new work-from-home jobs during the pandemic and have never actually met anyone we work with in real life. It’s difficult to get to know anyone. Not having a work bestie to talk about people with is tough. There’s only so much you can vent about with your partner or roommate; they just don’t have the same context as your coworkers to get where you’re coming from. I feel like people say they’d rather work from home, but the long-term effects of not interacting with people throughout the day – missing social cues, body language, and just human-to-humanness – cannot be good.
But Mel, working from home offers much more flexibility…
Does it really? To me, working from home is only great if either you don’t have much work to do, or if you’re 100% in control of your schedule. There are many downsides to working from home that outweigh the one really good thing: privacy. And privacy and flexibility are not the same thing. I think we all love being able to work without someone watching over our shoulders and clocking us. Working from home on a 9-5 schedule is not necessarily flexible. It’s just more private and convenient. And that may be what makes it all worth it.
Me? I’d rather have my cake and eat it, too. I think I’d rather have privacy at the office and the ability to have a flexible schedule AND be able to socialize, get natural movement in throughout the day, have less meetings, and be able to separate home from work. What about you? Do you like working from home or do you dislike it? Let me know why in the comments.