Working from home can have a negative impact on your health and happiness, so you have to be your own boss – literally.
Working from home is not for everybody. Some people, unfortunately, only find this out after they start working from home, which is awkward, and some folks find out when the industry they’re in more or less transforms into a largely work-from-home kind of career, which is what’s happened by and large to the translation services industry – yes, there are still office positions for language translation professionals, but by far most of us work at home these days. Finding out you hate working from home only after you are forced to do so is tragic.
Even for those of us – like myself – who enjoy working from home, it can have its drawbacks. Isolation, a sedentary lifestyle, and even depression can result if you don’t take some steps. There’s been a lot written about how to handle working from home in a healthy way, but I think it all comes down to a simple rule of thumb: Always ask yourself What Would My Boss Do (WWMBD)?
The key to working from home, you see, is separation. When you work at an office you get up every day and groom yourself and commute in to a wholly separate place dedicated to work, with a group of people and other distractions. Then you come home to your personal life and your family. This is a healthy separation for most people.
Working from home removes that separation. You’re basically always living at the office, literally, and there are no opportunities to socialise with other people, as a rule. It all blurs together, and that’s unhealthy. Just as science tells us that we sleep better when our bedrooms are used solely for that purpose, we need our personal space to remain personal.
So, ask yourself: What would your boss do? Imagine that you’re the boss of an employee who very much resembles yourself. He’s burned out and spending way too much time at the office. You’d order him to go home, take a day off, and recharge. Then you’d admonish him for spending too much time at the office, and order him to make up a schedule and stick to it – and to make sure he takes a vacation this year.
That’s the secret: You have to view all work-related things that aren’t literally your projects from the point-of-view of a boss. Run your office. Set up a separate work space that is dedicated only to your work, and ‘commute’ there every morning, and ‘commute’ home every night. And when other unhappy situations come up, take a moment to put yourself in the headspace of your boss and think about what you would do if you were supervising yourself. It’s an excellent and very effective trick.
In the end, it’s largely a question of adjusting. You can get used to working from home, especially if you start to supervise yourself.
Image courtesy mysmallbizidea.com