Working From Home: Expectations vs. Reality

I am a proud millennial unicorn: I work from home full-time. Not the kind of work from home your sorority sister does where she sits in coffee shops and claims to “write a novel”, when in reality she’s creating new Pinterest boards on her MacBook Air and still gets an allowance from her parents who live on the Upper East side. Nay, the type with a real salary and benefits, complete with 401K and an elaborate goal setting process from corporate America.

Most of the time, working from home is a fantasy dream life where you never have to worry about your boss looking over at your screen and realizing you’ve spent more time on Instagram than that quarterly report. But for the sanity and credibility of work-from-homers everywhere, I have to set the record straight. It’s not all fun and games kids; I give you the harsh realities and tribulations of that at-home office life.

Expectation #1: You make your own schedule, and only work when you feel like it.

Reality: Every human and their brother have 24/7 access to you, and they will abuse that privilege to no end. You leave your office at 5PM and don’t answer your work phone until the next day? I’m so happy for you! Working from home means your work phone is your cell phone- so go ahead and kick that work/life balance concept to the curb and accept that you will drunk text a client at 4 am (on accident, of course) on at least 3 occasions.

Expectation #2: You will have so much more time for domestic activities since you’re home all day- HGTV projects here I come!

Reality: You will spend 40% of you life on a plane (see my Southwest boarding guide for planning purposes), 57% somewhere on a backroad in the middle of nowhere where the horror movie based on your future disappearance will probably be filmed, and the other 3% in front of a shitty computer trying to keep your inbox somewhere under 500 emails. “Work from Home” is actually code for “Never fucking home so you don’t deserve a real office cube like the other hamsters on their wheel”.

*Roommate Note: Noble’s last known record of a clean home and new HGTV project was 2012

Expectation #3: You never have to dress up to go to work

Reality: You never have to dress up to go to work. On the rare occasion where I’m actually in my home office, the only reason I put on a bra is to walk my dog through the neighborhood. On days where you actually are forced to interact with clients face to face, they’re so happy to see you that they won’t even notice you haven’t worn makeup since that concert 3 months ago. Enjoy your suits, you monkeys, I don’t even own khakis.

Expectation #4: You have 24/7 access to your own kitchen- snack time is all the time.

Reality: I literally don’t remember the last time I had time to make anything for lunch that didn’t come in a takeout container. When you work from home, you can’t leave the office for lunch. That laptop is actually a shackle, and your iPhone ringing is the equivalent to modern day waterboarding. Thankfully I have a wonderful live-in boyfriend who volunteers to come home for lunch so I don’t get hangry and murder someone, but he does it more out of fear for humanity than love.

Expectation #5: Commuting doesn’t exist.

Reality: Sure doesn’t- on those three days out of the year that you aren’t traveling. some work-from-homers may have only a coffee shop commute as a burden, but for those of us in sales and marketing you can say hello to mileage checks and goodbye to any semblance of a normal schedule. That being said, mileage checks are generally higher than my commission checks and probably worth not seeing my dog for the months of September or October.

Expectation #6: You spend all day petting your dog…and it’s glorious.

Reality: I sit in my house, with only my dog for company, all day long. I’m an introvert; you would think that’s the ideal situation. Turns out, even internally centered people are ready to start a conversation with their 70-year-old neighbor that begins every interaction with scolding you for your tattoos after day 4 of home containment. The bright side? No one knows when happy hour begins.

If done correctly, WFH as we call it in the biz can be a great alternative to the traditional cube lifestyle. But you’ve been warned- this glamorous lifestyle of PJ’s until noon and constant access to Netflix during the workday isn’t for the feint of heart. You have to be intrinsically motivated, willing to go days without seeing another soul, and not allergic to pet dander because you will definitely need to acquire a furry friend for company. Please send a smoke signal with any other questions, because my voicemail and inbox are already full.