I will start this post by being extremely clear about the fact that I am an extrovert. I am the kind of person who says things like “I like your energy” and “I got a good vibe from him.” I am a true believer in the fact that you have the ability to change the mood when you enter a room, and I often feel positively and negatively affected by others around me.
When I started working remotely in March, I felt scared and simultaneously angry. I had worked as a freelancer for almost two years before starting an agency job, and one of the reasons I was so excited to come to Beyond Definition was that I liked the team! Personally, so much of a fulfilling work experience is about my teammates and my office culture. The thought of that being gone, and working remote again, made me feel very anxious and question my ability to thrive.
As someone who has struggled with loneliness during this WFH stretch, I have been trying to focus my intention and my thoughts and frame them in a more positive way. After reading about the positive effect of simply shifting your mental language from I “have to” do something to I “get to” do something, I’ve started to come around to the WFH lifestyle.
For those like me who struggle from time to time with the work from home blues, I am going to outline seven silver linings (besides the most obvious ones) about the remote workplace to help you look at something with a different perspective.
*Disclaimer: I do not have children at home. For those of you that do, I’m sorry I can’t drum up a silver lining that relates to having children at home while you’re working because, honestly, I do not know how parents are handling this. You’re all rockstars.
This one is self-explanatory but no doubt a benefit, especially if you live in an area where packages are stolen frequently. Working from home allows you to sign for packages during the day without having to worry about something happening. I’ll even throw in the benefit of being home in case you need work done to the house (safely of course).
If you are someone who asks for “light” dressing at Sweet Green or who never asks a waiter/waitress for extra sauce on the side then this one might not apply-but hear me out. I did not know how much stress it was causing me until it wasn’t causing me stress anymore. I am a saucy gal. Ketchup, honey mustard, bbq sauce, soy sauce: The list goes on. And any meal is made better with the exact amount of sauce you want that meal to have. It is pretty annoying having to pack a tiny Tupperware container or 2 tbsp of sauce when you want 4-7. Or when you bring your bottle of organic salad dressing into work and forget about it and don’t have it at home when you want/need it. Not having to worry about where your condiments are at all times is a nice perk of the remote office. I stand by that.
One thing I have really enjoyed about my setup at home is that I have really made it my own. It took a few tries, and moving my desk around, but I’ve had a few of my favorite prints framed and now I sit near a cute window with a houseplant named Bunny and you know what; it does bring me joy. We have a fairly open concept floor plan at work, where offices with doors and walls aren’t available to all. Working from home allows me to hang framed prints and paintings by artists that inspire me (Dawn Okoro, Yayoi Kusama, Jean-Leon Gerome, Alma Thomas) and to stick some letters from friends or inspirational quotes on a bulletin board. This might not have been an option for you at your workplace so if that is the case I suggest you lean in and make your office area a place that makes you feel like your best self.
Pet care, commute, parking, unnecessary coffee runs; I can remove these expenses from my budget while working from home. And it certainly adds up. While I had to spend some money to create a comfortable work space for myself, not paying $50/week for parking has been a nice change in my monthly budget. And remember when I said I was an extrovert? That means I was always first to volunteer to go grab lunch, coffee or drinks with a coworker almost any time it was proposed. Now don’t get me wrong, I miss this. I miss being able to have a friendly chat over coffee on a slow afternoon, or stepping out for a snack when I needed an energy boost. But those expenses were adding up too. Not to mention our office is located above a Whole Foods which was equally excruciating as it was joyous. In hindsight, no, I did not need those acai bowls for breakfast or a $6 “healthy” candy bar in the afternoon because I felt I had earned it. Not having those small expenses in my weekly budget is a silver lining of the wfh life.
As I mentioned earlier, pet care was an expense for me, but also a hard stop in my workday. On certain days, I needed to leave at 5:15-5:30 to pick up my dog from doggie daycare. And I am a morning workout person so I started my days at the gym between 7-7:30. I didn’t realize how constrictive that can be in an agency environment, especially when dealing with monthly magazines that have fast turnarounds and hard deadlines. Working from home, it is much easier to put in some hours early in the morning or the evening when necessary. When the workday is longer than you expect it to be, at least you don’t have a 30 minute or more commute to add to it, pushing dinner and the rest of your evening plans. It’s a silver lining to be able to simply get up from your desk, walk a few paces and get dinner ready after a long day.
Remember that unnecessary coffee/lunch I mentioned? Well, not having those also means not contributing to the paper waste from those either! Working from home, you might be living more sustainably and not even know it. One thing I have noticed is more time (even if only seconds) to think about waste and emissions. I am much more likely to grab another sweater/blanket/snuggy or put the dog on my lap at home rather than crank up the heat. But if I was in the office I wouldn’t have all of those items available. I also started composting while working from home, because since I am making all of my meals here, I was quickly able to visualize just how much food waste I was producing. The added step of transferring to the compost trashcan doesn’t seem like as much of a burden as it did when I was throwing lunch together quickly hastily trying to get to the gym by 7. Being home more, I am also much more likely to rinse out a recyclable container rather than accidentally tossing it in the trash because I was in a hurry. If you hadn’t thought about any of this until now, maybe you might! Being home more, allows more time to focus on wasteful habits and work on eliminating them, thus leading to a more sustainable lifestyle.
For a person in a creative role at work, it is easier to get in the “zone” while working from home because I’m already in my own creative space. Sometimes it is hard to turn that off/on at work with people moving about in the office, popping by to say hello (though I’ll admit I am usually the person doing the popping by) and unexpected meetings/calls/tasks that inevitably come up. Since I am in a space that I have curated for myself, and this is the space that I would be making art outside of work, it is easier to settle in and get to drawing/sketching or even creative brainstorming while at home.
Whether you are someone who loves the work-from-home lifestyle or not, I hope some of the silver linings outlined in this post might highlight something you hadn’t thought of about the situation that millions of us find ourselves in for the foreseeable future. Whether it is realizing that you are saving money, that it is easier to think sustainably, or that you have the ability to create a space that allows you to get inspired. Working from home might not be everyone’s first choice (really, I miss people!) but there are some silver linings that we can take away from this experience and use to better ourselves and our futures.