By definition, working at home means working alone. You’ll be far removed from the company of coworkers and colleagues and the hustle and bustle of the typical office environment. Depending on who you live with and what your work involves, you could spend your entire working day without seeing or interacting with a single person.
This kind of solitude can drive some people crazy. To help assess whether you’ll truly be happy spending long stretches of the day alone, think about how much you enjoy the social side of working in an office.
Do you often have lunch with your coworkers and chat in the hallways with friends from other departments? Or do you spend most of your day in your own office, quietly toiling away? If you’re a social butterfly, then working at home—at least full time—may not be ideal for you.
But there are ways to lessen the isolation of your home office. One increasingly popular method is to find a “third space” to work from— somewhere other than your home or an office. No doubt you’ve seen this burgeoning subculture at your local Starbucks, wireless café, or public library. These are the people who arrive with laptops, cell phones, and
PDAs in hand, grab a table, order a latte, plug in, and work away— surrounded by the buzz and energy of a café scene without the distraction of coworkers or the loneliness of home.
Here’s how Craig Wilson, writing for USA TODAY, described getting used to working at home: Will I learn to accept this pace, to slow down enough to actually hear myself think, perhaps even ponder? I wonder. Am I going to heed the silence, embrace it, accept it? Or am I going to haul the TV up from the kitchen and have the soaps on as background noise, just as they are at the office? Stay tuned.
The phone rang. My boss, I thought, checking up on me, making sure I’m not downstairs eating Oreos, watching Oprah on company time. I picked it up. … There was silence on the other end, then a stranger began informing me I could consolidate all my loans into one easy monthly payment. “It’s quick, it’s easy!” she said. It was my first human contact in six hours. “Tell me more,” I said.
Another good strategy is to make a conscious effort to stay in touch with your coworkers, by scheduling in-person meetings and picking up the phone once in a while to say hello. This is particularly important if you are home full time or most of the time. Attending company holiday parties, participating in the firm’s softball league, or showing up for
an office baby shower (maybe even organizing one) will help you stay connected. You might also want to join a local professional organization to make contact with other people and stay plugged in to what’s happening in your field.