About 6 months ago I made the decision to relocate myself to beautiful (albeit, chilly) Boston, MA. I was also fortunate enough to be able to keep my position as the Digital Experience Director at G3 Communications!
I now am a full-time, remote employee. There have been various times throughout my career where I’ve worked from home a couple days here and there, and I was positive that I’d be able to maintain my productivity. In fact, before I left New Jersey, I had been working from home at least once a week.
Needless to say, switching to a completely remote schedule is much different than the occasional “WFH” day. Here are the four biggest lifestyle differences I’ve experienced as a remote employee:
Getting dressed is hard.
I should define “getting dressed”. The act of getting dressed is easy, but for some reason I find it hard to “waste” a good outfit on working ..at home. To some extent, I’ve always felt this way. Even when I worked in the office, if I knew I had a game or yoga planned for the afternoon, I was probably in some kind of active wear at the office. It just made sense to me.
When I first started working at home, I kept feeling like I needed to put jeans on every day. Over the last 2 months, I’ve let myself off the hook on that. For me, what it really comes down to is this: I want to get ready for the day once. And it works both ways. If I’m going out for drinks after work, I’m dressed for that before the day begins.
Let me be clear though, getting up in the morning, showering, and putting on a fresh pair of clothes is crucial for a productive day. (Even if that fresh pair of clothes is a new set of leggings!) It wakes you up in the morning and reminds you that it’s not Sunday.
Productivity levels soar.
This may require a certain type of person, but I get way more done at home. There is something about being able to walk away at any point that really allows you to refocus. Not that I couldn’t walk away in my office days, but it’s different at home.
Sometimes it’s as simple as taking a few minutes to make a cup of tea, and listen to my favorite song. Other times, it’s a longer break, maybe throwing in a load of laundry or prepping food for dinner. My ultradian rhythm really flourishes under this environment, allowing me to get more done.
Those “uninterrupted” hours you long for when you work in an office— they’re easily found in my remote environment. When I need to zone out and focus on a project, it’s as easy as turning off my Slack notifications. I’m not distracted by miscellaneous conversations or other people’s calls anymore.
And, while I do occasionally miss the human-to-human interaction, I’ve found other ways to meet those needs. I picked up an “work/study” gig at my local yoga studio. Three times a week I’m there signing people up for classes, interacting with the teachers, and enjoying the yoga community on a whole. I also find that I’m encouraged to go out and engage with people more during the day. Sometimes this comes in the form of a grocery story run, or perhaps walking the dogs on a nice afternoon.
Meals are an adjustment.
I always used to joke that if I worked from home I would be 10lbs lighter. In any office I’ve ever worked in, there have always been people bringing something in for their coworkers to eat. And it’s never a veggie platter. Between homemade snacks, bagel Mondays, takeout Tuesdays and beer Friday, I was sure that working from home would yield healthier choices.
I was wrong (sort of). At first, I was like a kid at college freshman year. I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted! Pretzels & hummus for breakfast? Why not. That’s gotta be better than a bagel.. right? My fully stocked kitchen is so close that I was hoping back and forth whenever I felt like it.
It took me a couple of weeks to right this ship. I now eat breakfast around 8-9AM, a far cry from the 6AM ones I’d rush through before. I’m also more mindful of the snacks I consume. After all, it’s insanely easy to binge eat, especially when no one’s watching! I set a specific time for lunch every too. This helps me to get up, step away from the computer and focus on something else for a bit.
My definition of ‘meal’ has changed too, since I now have the luxury of a full kitchen and a stocked fridge. I eat eggs for breakfast more than before, and I cook lunch more often than not. I was never big on ordering lunch, but that has also decreased in the transition.
This adjustment definitely required more will power than I had anticipated, but I’m happy to say, I am making healthier choices (most days!) than I use to.
Getting fresh air is easier.
When I worked in an office, there were some days that I didn’t leave for the entire day. That’s 8-9 hours spent inside. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? It’s easy to walk in and get lost in the fluorescent lights, coworker conversations, and of course, actual work. Then, before you know it, it’s time to go home and you’re shocked to find that it’s pouring rain.
At home, getting some fresh air is much easier. I am lucky to have two huge windows behind my desk that pour natural light into my apartment. It’s a tough thing to ignore! Most days I step away from the computer to take a walk, grab a cup of tea, or just to get some fresh air. This is especially helpful when I find myself stressed out or frustrated.
Admittedly, there horrible weather days when I don’t go out for long. (I do live in winter-stricken Boston after all.) Moral of the story, I can honesty say, when I when I get outside during the work day, I have an immensely better day.
All in all, I think these four changes have enhanced my work life. As with anything, I’ll continue to monitor and adjustment my new lifestyle, especially as the weather becomes more bearable! Working from home is probably not for everyone, but I am definitely embracing it.