There are some things I want my family, my company and my friends to know about working from home. But there is one thing, in particular, I want all of them to understand—working from home is not easy.
To my family—I love you, and you are the reason I am working from home. What I need you to know is that I am the same person you have known your whole life. I am here for you when you need me but please don’t assume I will be able to find your library book or do laundry or run errands just because I work from home. When I work from home I work from home—I am on conference calls all day; if not I am creating presentations, compiling meeting notes, etc. I cannot and will not do extra stuff during my work hours for my sanity, for being mindful. Doing multiple things at the same time is exhausting and unproductive.
Please understand that human interaction is very important to me. I like to connect; most humans do irrespective of gender. In addition to you and some of your friends’ moms, I do not have a personal network of friends since I left them all in other cities. I do miss it and would like for you to be involved in some of the activities that I enjoy or find time to meet other like-minded people in this new city.
To my company—I love working for you and know that I am adding value. What I need you to know is that I am still the same professional you hired 20 years ago. I continue to prove myself every day when I come to work. Yes, I do dress casually, but I do not take my work casually. In fact, I take it even more seriously because I feel guilty that I have the privilege to work from home. I use my time wisely to complete my work so I can manage the other obligations I have at home.
Don’t bring up, “You are not here to go into their office and talk to them.” I can, with technology, virtually go into their office and speak to them face-to-face. I can also call and chat, but I need you to be open to doing this. These are all the same tools your in-office employees use currently. I know that in-office employees do not schedule conference rooms either, so I would be doing the same thing no matter where I am.
To my friends—I love you and am pleased you support me. What I need you to know is that I am not as lucky as you think I am just because I work from home. What you do not see is that I am having a hard time with isolation. What you don’t see is that I gave up career progression so I can be with my family. What you don’t see is that I don’t dress up anymore or even do my makeup and I miss these little things. These tasks you do as you get ready for work or social events are no longer part of my life. Yes, I am very fortunate to have a job I love and to be able to see my family every day—but all this came at a price–isolation.
And that is why I am starting a movement for all working parents across the globe to unite and meet to keep the isolation away. If you are interested in joining our community we welcome you!
Here is a great Infographic from Stanford University explaining the dangers of isolation and how to manage isolation.