Personal blog

Why I don’t like working remotely

People are so excited about working remotely.

My experience is 4 month of working remotely on daily basis a few years ago, plus an occasional home office for the last 2 years. It’s enough to realize that it’s not my thing. At least when speaking about working from home, which doesn’t exhaust the possibilities.

Long story short – I have shortages of motivation to work from home. I don’t like it because I’m bad at it.

I don’t think I’m any less productive when working from home. It just costs me more energy. This comes down to an unclear separation between work and life. Work-life balance, if you prefer.

The physical distance between office and home helps in keeping work away from private life.

At home – there are other things to do than work, and I always had difficulties to tell which is which:

  • Do I log washing my dishes? At the office you too don’t always work at 100% focus, right? So maybe washing the dishes is just like chill time at the office? Or maybe I should stay longer because I washed the dishes?
  • How about 10 minutes when I just lay down and listen to the music? What if this extends to 30 minutes?
  • How about a power nap?
  • How about cooking dinner and doing the project in the meantime? Am I focused enough to claim that hour billable?

It’s especially hard to work remotely when I’m not clear on what to do, and/or when my job consists of mostly talking to other people. And hey, that’s my current project. I would rather meet IRL than nag people online in this case. When it comes to just coding – it’s a different story. But “just coding” is a luxury.

It is also scary for me to work not in a single 8 hours block. That seems to be a very popular workflow when working remotely, for example:

  1. wake up
  2. work 2 hours
  3. do the shopping
  4. work 3 hours
  5. cook dinner, work 1 hour in the meantime
  6. eat the dinner & family time
  7. work 2 hours

… and It’s like 9 PM.

This is unlike in office work. I go there, work 8 hours and leave work in that particular building. The rest of the day is mine.

Also, for some reason, I’m used to starting my work day with going “there”. Without this my mind doesn’t switch to “oho, we’ll be working” mode. I realized that pretty quickly. When working remotely on daily basis, I was faking it. Every morning I went to a nearby store to pretend my morning stride to work. It didn’t work. Apparently getting back home kills this productivity injection.

These issues could be the matter not so much with me, as with my home environment. I’ve been told how a proper remote environment looks like – a separate room for work or at least a separate desk. I don’t have such conditions at home. Also, you’re not supposed to wear only underwear. Sounds good, doesn’t work :).

Working in the office solves those problems. The solutions are perhaps very cheap but work just fine for me. There are rules you have to stick to. No loud music, no naps, no only-underwear. Simple as that.

For me, it’s putting some effort upfront (going there) to save myself from hard times later.

Remote guys often complain about meetings and interruptions in office. I’m with you, remote guys, this can be disgusting. The solution for me is to learn to deal with it, not run away from it. For example by teaching your co-workers your rules and workflow.

Just to make things plain – I love the possibility to work remotely from time to time when I have a good reason for it. But that’s enough for me. Occasional, twice a month or something, in case I’m needed at home.

Also, what I just stated doesn’t mean I’m unable to work for remote company full-time. I’m unable to do that effectively from home, but there are coworking offices and/or cafeterias or other places to work from. That’s what I would try next time.

Finally – maybe I’m not completely lost for working from home? I’m aware of tips & tricks that I never really tried, like:

  • Dress up properly
  • Put on shoes
  • Put on a tie
  • Wear a badge

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