I dislike working from home

23rd September 2020

And I’ve had to do it since the middle of March.

Like everyone else, come March and the realisation that COVID-19 was far worse than we had originally thought, I started working from home. This isn’t something I had ever really liked but I also hadn’t really tried it. The only times I had given it a go was when I needed to leave sharp at 5 pm from my house so I would WFH (work from home) in the afternoon. Just me and my laptop, probably on the sofa. I never really enjoyed it, but it was a means to an end and it was never for long periods of time.

But since this was going to be something more permanent, I read all the articles I could on getting the ‘perfect’ WFH setup. I have my external keyboard, external trackpad, dual monitors, raised laptop, SAD lamp, a plant, cute desk ornaments, a tablet on a gooseneck mount, and even built a desk extender so I could give myself more space. I spent months trying to optimise my space because everyone else seemed to love WFH. I tried different locations in my house to see if one had a better ‘work vibe’ but none of them did.

I kept thinking there must have been something wrong with my setup. Because the longer it went on, the more I hated it.

Its ok to not like WFH

After my months of research, I came to only one conclusion. I just really don’t like WFH.

I don’t like not leaving my house. People I worked with were talking about how their work-life balance was so much better now they were WFH full time but mine just got worse. I like having a place for work (precious precious office…) and a place for home stuff.

I struggled to stop working at 5 pm and struggled to get started at 9 am. There was always another Slack message I could send or another cup needing put in the dishwasher. I felt like I needed to be available at all times so I never even left my desk for lunch. And then into the evenings, I could hear my laptop going ‘ding’ with every new email I got. None of them were even about work but rather newsletters. But I felt like I had to check them. I used to not even have my work email or calendar on my phone let alone Slack but now I not only have them added but have notifications turned on. Just in case I miss something.

I don’t even really listen to music anymore. In the office, I’ve got three sets of headphones so I’m never without something to block out ‘office noise’ but at home, it’s just not the same. It’s like I like having people around me I can choose to ignore.

I spent the first 4 months of lockdown miserable because I couldn’t work out why I was ‘broken’. Everyone else seemed to love WFH and were being amazing productive people. They had all opened Etsy shops for their side hustle and were making the best of things. And I was blaming my desk on why I was crying at 6 pm every day.

It’s ok to not like WFH. You’re not broken. You just prefer an office environment.

5 tips to WFH when you hate it

Turn notifications off

Seriously, don’t have the notifications on your phone. Your phone is your safe space. Keep it clean from work.

If you *must* have them on, use built in digital wellness tools to limit when they’ll appear. You work 9-5. Not 24/7.

Take breaks

Just like you would in the office. You’re not chained to your desk. Set a timer on your laptop and when it sounds, go and make a cup of tea. Or coffee. Or just get away from your desk. It’ll help you feel more refreshed and you’ll be more productive.

Let your team know if you’re not doing ok

Yeah its not exactly fun to talk about but if you’re strugging, they would see it on your face in the office. You don’t get that face time anymore so you’ll need to be more open with people.

Keep having fun

Office banter isn’t the same anymore but you can still find ways to have fun with your colleages. Talk about bake off and sewing bee. Have a Friday night zoom drink. Run an office quiz league.

Avoid decisions

This one is more complicated. With every decision you make, you get more tried of making them. Normally, you get an airgap of work decisions v home decisions via your commute. You don’t have that anymore.

So, make your life easier. Meal prep simple lunches so you don’t need to choose what to have. Have a set number of dinners you choose from at the start of the week. Make a TV viewing schedule. And then you can live on auto pilot when you need to.