Over the course of my career, I have spent more time working from home than working in an office. I’m sure that sounds a little crazy to some people, but for me the pros outweigh the cons.
I have heard a wide range of reactions to the fact that I work from home – everything from “Oh good, you won’t need day care” to “I bet you get a ton of house work done, that would be so great” to my favorite: “well, why don’t you just take a nap?”
The truth is, if you work from home full time, yes – you may have some additional flexibility to get a few things accomplished that people who work outside of the home cannot. However, I typically find that I use the time I save not commuting to work additional hours, not to bake cookies. I have also found that certain household tasks tend to be easier to multitask while you are working from home, while others absolutely should not be attempted.
Easier to balance tasks:
Long slow cooking, like in a crock-pot – Taking 15 minutes to throw a soup or pot roast into the crock-pot can be easy to fit into your day where a normal break would be (e.g. lunch, between conference calls, etc.). Try to avoid more than 10-15 minutes of prep work, unless you are positive that your phone won’t ring – you don’t want kitchen noises in the background when you answer it so you’ll either need to call the person right back or stop what you are doing and return to cooking later.
Laundry – Throwing clothes into the washing machine is a task that can be easier to fit in your day than many others. The trick is to be ok with them sitting in the washer or dryer for a few hours if work gets busy. Also, folding will need to wait until you are done with work for the day (see my note below about the dishwasher and trusting your mute button).
Being home for deliveries, repairs, etc. – A no brainer. In my experience, it is perfectly reasonable to schedule calls around a furniture delivery or repairperson visit. That is an understood benefit of working from home, provided you are doing your best not to inconvenience clients or customers.
Quick personal phone calls – While I do not encourage hour long rant sessions with your best girlfriend in the middle of a busy workday, one of the big benefits to working from home is being able to make a doctor’s appointment with complete privacy.
Harder to balance tasks:
Cleaning – You might be great at calling your mother while you clean the bathroom. That doesn’t mean you should multitask when you call a client. Clean or work, one or the other. The only exception to this recommendation is if you are listening in on a conference call where you do not need to actively participate. If you have A LOT of faith in your mute button, you could probably unload the dishwasher. But let me re-emphasis, you need to have a lot of faith in your mute button.
Childcare – This is a sensitive topic for many working parents, so I’m going to mostly leave it alone. Just know that holding down a full time or even part time working from home job while also caring for a child can be difficult to balance and deserves a lot of thought and care. Please think about your job requirements, the age of your child, and other related variables and then decide what is best for your family.
Are there any household tasks that you absolutely avoid when working from home? Pet peeves? Please share your thoughts!