There are several things I want my family, my company, and my friends to know about working from home. But there is one thing in particular that I want all of them to really 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, to stay mindful. Doing multiple things at the same time is exhausting and unproductive.
Please understand that human interaction is vital 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 job 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 that I can manage the other obligations I have at home.
Don’t tell me, “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 that your in-office employees currently use. 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 daily, but all this came at a price: isolation.
And that is why I am starting a movement for all working parents across the country to unite and meet within their local community to keep the isolation away. Here is a great Infographic from Stanford University explaining the dangers of isolation and how to overcome it.
If you are interested in helping to organize a meet-up in your city or have any comments, please send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.