Before I took the plunge and started working from home, I admit I had a romanticised view of what it would entail.
I was picturing leisurely breakfasts, being able to stay in my pjs all day, firing up the computer whenever I wished and generally kicking back and laughing at all those sorry souls who still had to commute to an office every day. I thought it would be so easy to get my work complete during school hours so I could be that doting and caring parent that is all ears in the afternoon, laden with home baked treats for her weary tribe.
Seriously, that was my picture of work from home bliss.
Suffice to say it was a big crock of crock.
Working from home is HARD. Anyone who says it isn’t is LYING. I will go over the challenges of working from home (and my solutions) in a future post, I promise.
But today I wanted to talk about some of the unexpected benefits I have already discovered now that I work from home. Of course I expected some benefits from my new situation (who wouldn’t?) but there have been some unexpected gifts that have come my way that I wanted to share because they are so welcome and so unexpectedly awesome.
Benefit #1 My skin has never been better
I have worn makeup all my working life – from the age of 19, to be exact. I had continual breakouts and oiliness and dry patches throughout my 20s and 30s which I thought was just the way my skin was. I wore makeup as part of my professional wardrobe but I also wore makeup to disguise my rosy complexion and the fact that I blush easily – it was my way of combating my innate low self esteem.
Since I’ve left work, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve worn makeup. I now feel confident taking the kids to school, going to the shops and attending appointment sans makeup. And my skin is glowing (in a good “not Rudolph the reindeer” way). I haven’t taken up a new cleansing regime – I still wash my face in the shower and make sure I moisturise, like I always did. That’s it. A number of people have commented on how good I look which is rather pleasant and confidence boosting since I’m turning the big 4-0 this year. This is a benefit I did not expect from my new working arrangements.
Benefit #2 I have more professional confidence
I didn’t expect this by-product of working from home either. For good or bad, I always needed the validation of the workplace. I thought that my value as a worker was intrinsically linked to the role I had in the workplace, as part of a larger organisation. I have to confess that leaving my place in my organisation was one of my biggest fears when taking this leap. I feared that I would be lost and have no identity.
It’s funny that 6 months on, after a period where I did feel lost for a while, I now have more confidence in my own ability than I ever did in the workplace. I am revelling in setting my own direction and pursuing my own ideas. I finally believe that I can write and that I can add real value to the world. It’s a powerful combination of hope, determination, confidence and belief. And it’s intoxicating.
Benefit #3 I have never been healthier
Now I did expect to be less stressed by working from home – that was the driving reason behind my decision to accept the offer of redundancy in the first place. But I did not expect to feel so physically healthier so quickly. I don’t remember the last time I had a cold. My sinus is manageable and I haven’t really experienced a day where I’ve felt too unwell not to work. This is in stark contrast to my previous life where I would often find myself felled by a cold or by a virus on a regular basis. It appears the air conditioned office was definitely not my friend so this is a very unexpected yet welcome benefit of working from home.
Benefit #4 I have finally embraced colour in my wardrobe
In my previous life I tended to gravitate to classic, monotone hues in my office wear. Apart from the odd splash of red or teal, you could bet your house I would have black or grey or white in my office ensemble on any given day. As my main clothing purchases were made for my working week (where I spent most of my time), my casual wardrobe was sadly neglected and woefully inadequate.
Since leaving the office I have had to reconstruct my casual wardrobe and I’ve started to finally embrace more colour and pattern. And I feel so much better for it. Feeling good in what you wear and adding some colour to your life really does lift your mood. This is a huge statement coming from a non-fashionista like myself but I am ever so glad that I have belatedly welcomed colour to my wardrobe!
Benefit #5 I feel more centred with more solitary hours in my day
I am a social creature by nature and I was concerned that I would find the isolation of working from home oppressive and dispiriting. I always loved the camaraderie of the office and thrived on the social interactions that valued me as a person, not just as someone’s mother. However, it turns out that I crave the solitary hours of my working day. They give me energy to deal with the craziness of the morning and afternoon routines. Having some alone time has made me a better mother and I hope, a better wife too.
I find that when I do need to venture out or attend appointments now, a part of me resents the fact that I am being pulled away from my work and from my quiet existence at home. I still love being social but I am loving the feeling of contentment and centering that has come from more time on my own. It is a luxury that I now crave and has become integral to my own personal and professional happiness.
There are so many other benefits to working from home, most of them much more well known and accepted. I feel less stressed, I can direct my own work, I am my own boss, I don’t have to call in sick, I can work when and where I want, etc. The list is well and truly endless.
But I have to say that these 5 unexpected benefits of working from home were a complete surprise to me and very welcome. I wonder what other benefits will emerge as I continue my new working life?