I’ve been an independent consultant now for nine years. And during those nine years the most common refrain I hear from friends and colleagues is: “Must be nice to work from home.”
During those winter snowstorms when most are stuck in three-hour commutes home? Yep, sure is.
During those warm Minnesota summer Fridays when I can sneak out for nine holes in the afternoon? Yep, sure is.
During every day when I don’t have to actually BE SOMEWHERE by 8 a.m.? Yep, sure is.
Most people I talk to are jealous of the work from home flexibility. They’re tired of the commute. They’re tired of being a butt in a seat. And they’re tired of losing all that time.
But, what isn’t talked about as much is the significant cost that comes from working at home.
And that cost is loneliness.
It’s extremely isolating working from home on a full-time basis. I should know–I’ve done it for nine years now!
For some (read: full-blown introverts), that’s a blessing. And, that does encompass a decent number of the people who do the whole solo thing. I’ve talked to many of them–they love the quiet mornings writing, or the tranquil Mondays spend with heads down doing the work.
But, for those in the middle (me), or full-on extroverts, working from home can be very hard to manage.
Yes, you can throw in some laundry while you’re on that conference call.
Yes, you can pick up your kids early and still get your work done during the day.
Yes, you can start dinner for the family and still be working on that report for your boss.
You can do all that stuff and so much more. Working from home is EXTREMELY productive. But, it’s also EXTREMELY isolating.
When I meet with people for coffee, I often ask them, “How many people will you see and talk to today?”
The response is usually anywhere from 20-100.
My response? One.
The person I was having coffee with.
Oh, I know. It still sounds good. You’ll take that trade-off, you say. It’s worth it. And, you might be right. For a week. Even a month. I’ll even give you a few months.
But, try doing it consistently for a year or more. You do that and then tell me working from home isn’t isolating. It is. And, it will impact you in some way, shape or form.
I say all this not for a sob story on my current role. Truth is, I like the alone time. I get out plenty between coffee meet-ups, client meetings and my two mastermind groups (not to mention MIMA, MN PRSA and other local meetings).
I say this because the world of work is changing. More people are working remotely. Recent reports have the number of people working remotely “some of the time” around 43 percent. Other reports put that number well over 50 percent in the next few years.
According to that data, many of you reading this right now will most likely have the chance to work from home in the next few years.
And, when you make that decision, you need to make it with the knowledge that there are some significant drawbacks to working from home. Namely, the isolating nature of it.
Just something to consider, and one key learning I’ve had over the last nine years.