I thought these were jeans!
February 6, 2017 6:53 AM   Subscribe

I Work From Home by Colin Nissan [The New Yorker]
posted by Mchelly (110 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite

 
I recently switched jobs and now work from home— so of course, two different friends have already sent me this article. It's fun! Though, of course, part of me did feel defensive, like, "I put on pants every day."
posted by Zephyrial at 7:01 AM on February 6 [4 favorites]


"When there are no rules, it is lunch, Cherise!"
posted by bwvol at 7:02 AM on February 6 [20 favorites]


I've worked from home for more years than I can remember and a lot of this sounds disturbingly right. Working from home is especially isolating if you live in the burbs, where no one else is home during the day and there's no "walking down to the cafe" for human contact. You live for the sound of an occasional UPS truck coming through the neighborhood. But, you also fear anyone else coming to your door.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:11 AM on February 6 [19 favorites]


> "I put on pants every day."

Why?
posted by kyrademon at 7:13 AM on February 6 [8 favorites]


This is why God made coffee shops.
posted by gottabefunky at 7:15 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


I discovered during grad school that working from home all the time was a recipe for anxiety and depression for me. It was too easy to faff around all day, not getting much done and seeing neither sunlight nor other people, particularly in the winter. Even though I hate going into work, I think of it as a necessary evil for me, and limit my WFH days.
posted by peacheater at 7:16 AM on February 6 [31 favorites]


This was almost to close to home for me to consider funny. I still couldn't help laughing out loud though. I've worked from home for close to 8 years now. When I tell people I work from home they mostly comment about how lucky I am. I don't bother telling them about the isolation, the struggle to stay on task, and the unhealthy habits that can be spurred on by boredom. I just say it's not for everyone. I'm hoping to end my work from home days soon and become a regular office guy. I'm looking forward to wasting time at the water cooler or pretending to be interested in the lame stories about my co-worker's kids. But I'll probably miss working in pajama bottoms a little...
posted by yossarian1 at 7:17 AM on February 6 [8 favorites]


Being unemployed is a lot like working from home except with a bit more actual dread and ennui and 0 cutesy New Yorker snarkticles.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:18 AM on February 6 [45 favorites]


Metafilter: from meerkats straight to pornography.
posted by 445supermag at 7:18 AM on February 6 [24 favorites]


This is why God made coffee shops.

He needs to improve their internet speeds and cut down on the annoying people who try to talk to you even with your headphones in.
posted by yossarian1 at 7:21 AM on February 6 [9 favorites]


I don't work from home and this is the reason.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:27 AM on February 6


Yeah. This was very close to me.

Recently, my work-from-home malaise has been stopped cold by a significant amount of business travel. That helps a lot.
posted by Thistledown at 7:27 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


This is why God made coffee shops.

I have to drive four miles to get to the closest coffee shop. A really tiny Starbucks. It's much more work than just walking down the block.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:29 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


FYI: Colin Nissan also wrote, It's Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers.
posted by DigDoug at 7:32 AM on February 6 [31 favorites]


Also - while it can be isolating, I wouldn't trade the flexibility for anything. Some days I work from 5:00am until 2 in the afternoon and then attend to my hobbies. Some days get started late but work into the evening. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and work on something for a couple of hours, and then go do something fun. I am blessed with a boss and management structure that believes in being hands-off and doesn't worry too much about me punching a clock.

It's so amazingly easy to let the isolation take over. It takes real, conscious effort to overcome that - active efforts that a person who commutes to a regular work location doesn't have to do because they involve things in the general course of that commute.
posted by Thistledown at 7:34 AM on February 6 [13 favorites]


Yeah there are too many distractions for me, even before you get to the ones that are clearly slacking (Metafilter, plunkin' on the guitar): laundry, straighten up that part of the shelf, look at these bills, oh shit, let's sort them all....these feel productive, and they are, but they aren't work, and that little ball of anxiety and procrastination gets larger.
posted by thelonius at 7:35 AM on February 6 [9 favorites]


Colin Nissan also wrote, It's Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers.

So we need to start working on the MacArthur Foundation and Pulitzer boards now, is what you're saying.
posted by Etrigan at 7:38 AM on February 6 [14 favorites]


You learn an awful lot about yourself when you work from home. Sometimes they are not good things.

This is why you make a schedule and pretend it's your boss.
posted by schadenfrau at 7:38 AM on February 6 [17 favorites]


I just now started working from home and one thing about working in an office...you could pretty much goof off without fear cuz other people would largely just be goofing off and chances are the boss goofs off too. Everyone collectively knows when its okay to goof off and you have an understanding.

At home everyone already *assumes* you are goofing off so you are starting at a disadvantage.
posted by ian1977 at 7:41 AM on February 6 [24 favorites]


My husband works from home and for him, this is ideal. The office environment is way too distracting for him, especially the open concept type that his company has. He has ADHD and the CONSTANT disruptions kept him from getting much done. Think about what happens all day every day in a not-even-a-cubicle-farm open plan office: people walk by your desk all the time, phones are ringing on different desks, you hear every single conversation within three feet whether you want to or not; it's constant background noise for most people but for people with ADHD, it's forefront noise ALL THE TIME.

He's super productive at home, even with the distractions of the cats and dog. He kind of hates the internet, so that's not an issue, and he's able to hunker down and work.

Working from home clearly isn't for everyone, but for people like my husband, it's a godsend.
posted by cooker girl at 7:44 AM on February 6 [11 favorites]


You learn an awful lot about yourself when you work from home. Sometimes they are not good things.

Please tell me this doesn't involve meerkat videos.
posted by ambrosen at 7:49 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Unhelpfully, the audible ad that I received informs me that I can turn any time into storytime!

/I am an academic.
posted by allthinky at 7:52 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


I also work from home. It has pros and cons, but the pros really are pretty sweet.
posted by kyrademon at 7:56 AM on February 6 [4 favorites]


If Jack Chick was still with us, we could expect a classic new tract:

Meercat Videos: Expressway to ONANISM
posted by dr_dank at 8:00 AM on February 6 [11 favorites]


I don't understand it because everyone I know says, like, in unison "I'm so much more productive from home!" And I'm like "How?? How are you not watching Westworld during the work day and then doing your actual work at 3 am??" Because that's me, every time I WFH. I did it for 2.5 years and it was the only major period of my life I went through depression. Ugh. I try to only do them now when I'm sick or the weather is bad.
posted by greermahoney at 8:00 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


I am working from home today... so you can see how that's going. Oh man, I hope I get a staff job again soon! My spouse is already the person in the article -- there can't be two of us in one apartment.
posted by palindromeisnotapalindrome at 8:00 AM on February 6 [7 favorites]


Oh god, the snacking. So much snacking.

I'm a public radio editor/producer, so as much as I adore my local coffee shop, I often have to keep myself sequestered away when I owe someone a delicate mix job. Some days it's a bitter contest between the basic animal hunger for socialization and the need for beautiful, tomb-like silence. On the one hand: bottomless soy chai lattes, unsolicited Prince playlists, and the pleasant camaraderie of my fellow regulars ... and on the other hand: the headphone-piercing hellscape of coffee grinders, milk frothers, unsolicited Prince playlists, and people with an "inside" telephone voice like Sam Kinison. I inevitably have to remix everything once I get back to my home studio ... but it's still better than inhaling an entire bag of veggie chips at my desk before noon.
posted by mykescipark at 8:03 AM on February 6 [9 favorites]


The office environment is way too distracting for him, especially the open concept type that his company has. He has ADHD and the CONSTANT disruptions kept him from getting much done. Think about what happens all day every day in a not-even-a-cubicle-farm open plan office: people walk by your desk all the time, phones are ringing on different desks, you hear every single conversation within three feet whether you want to or not; it's constant background noise for most people but for people with ADHD, it's forefront noise ALL THE TIME.

There goes my hoping that I was going to just get used to this somehow eventually. I like my actual job reasonably well, but I'm in a cube farm with phone support sitting directly across the wall from me, and it makes me feel like I'm going deaf, to the point where I actually tried some hearing testing stuff this weekend. Which is fine. My workplace is just deafening. I get home exhausted not from the work but from just having to exist here all day.

The one thing I do have to watch is that when I do rarely work from home--I'm only really allowed to do it if I'm sick--then I definitely do the thing where I basically just graze all day, or else I don't eat at all; my normal break times kind of fall apart. Also, I drink way, way too much coffee. But I get just as much done and I feel so much better at the end of the day that I'm really hoping I can find something remote at some point.
posted by Sequence at 8:10 AM on February 6 [4 favorites]


Anyone ever come up with a simple "rent-a-cubicle" kind of business? Hourly charge, high-speed connection, first-come, first-serve desk space. Or is this generally not feasible without the financial support of the coffee shop to pay the rent on the space?

It seems like an OK idea.
posted by caution live frogs at 8:12 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


caution live frogs, frequently it's not hourly but more of a monthly subscription, but what you're thinking of is usually called a coworking space, and they definitely exist in bigger cities.
posted by Sequence at 8:13 AM on February 6 [5 favorites]


Anyone ever come up with a simple "rent-a-cubicle" kind of business?

Coworking.
posted by Etrigan at 8:14 AM on February 6 [4 favorites]


Sequence, yeah, I'm sorry about that. He even took ADHD meds when he was in the office. He doesn't really need them so much now, unless he's got a major project due. He's much more able to cope with the minimal distractions of home vs. the major distractions at work.

He copes with the grazing by forcing himself to document, with calorie count, exactly what he eats during the day. That has the added benefit for him of weight loss.

Hopefully I'm not overstepping bounds, but have you tried/asked to use noise-cancelling headphones at work? I feel you on being exhausted after work. I'm a natural introvert and I use up all my social collateral during the day at work and my poor friends and family suffer the effects of that because by the time I get home I cannot stomach either going out again or being with anyone except my little nuclear family.
posted by cooker girl at 8:15 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Anyone ever come up with a simple "rent-a-cubicle" kind of business?

Coworking.


Coworking spaces seem like a great idea, but they're really only feasible as businesses in population dense big cities, and if I lived in one of those, I wouldn't have this remote job because there would be a viable job market in my city. So, for this bathrobe wearing remote developer, coworking is a catch-22.

Plus I'd have to pay out of pocket for that, probably, and it's doubtful that the coworking space will also come with a dual 4k sit-stand setup.
posted by dis_integration at 8:18 AM on February 6


Serendipity.


Or inspired by the FPP. Who knows?
posted by mushhushshu at 8:21 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


I love going to the office. My chair at work is more comfortable, the coffee is free and in the summer there's air-conditioning.
posted by octothorpe at 8:28 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Ok, so i work from home full time, but this doesn't really resonate with me. I shower every day/get dressed before turning on my laptop and doing the day's work. And i am way more productive WFH than in an office - i usually get everything i need to get done for the day around 1pm, then spend the rest of the time doing activities of daily living (cleaning, dishes, laundry, grocery shopping, etc etc). Am i just a special snowflake?
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 8:34 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


I love working from home and also love going to the office. I'm truly thankful I can do both. However. Maybe it's the increased telecommuting or just getting older, but I'm gradually losing the ability to recognize if my clothes are presentable vs. wardrobe provided by a colorblind toddler.

And the cats are so spoiled now. So much yelling for kibble, so many mousie howls during conference calls. "Why yes, I am a competent professional discussing competent professional thingMMMMRRRRRRRROOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWW"
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 8:37 AM on February 6 [6 favorites]


I work from home full-time and the upsides definitely outweigh downsides for me.

It does take a degree of schedule discipline, and one of the best habits I got into was declaring a sharp bright line at the end of the workday--because the thing about when you're in a groove of getting stuff done and being productive, there is always always always another thing that needs doing, and it's easy to just keep working a little longer. When weather's better, I tend to sign off and take a long walk and listen to audiobooks. Helps with the drawing a bright line between "working" and "not working" time, healthy, gets out of the apartment, etc.

Winter can get downright grim though, because the stir craziness is enhanced that much more.
posted by Drastic at 8:39 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Am i just a special snowflake?

I hope not?! I also wake up and [exercise if I'm good], shower, dress, eat, and then sit down to work at 9am. I am obligated to be available for ~8hrs a day, so I can't relate to being done at 1pm— but I definitely have days where I'm like, "I'm getting paid for this?" and others where I'm putting out fires and working my butt off. So far, I think they average out, haha.
posted by Zephyrial at 8:39 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


one thing that working from home taught me is that i have absolutely no idea how much time anyone else spends doing actual work at their job. if i didn't feel bound by guilt to sit in my home office during "normal working hours" i could probably finish my daily workload before lunch outside of crunch times.

instead, i find ingenious ways to make three hours of work take seven or eight hours (hello metafilter)
posted by murphy slaw at 8:41 AM on February 6 [8 favorites]


My dogs are conference call destroyers. As soon as I take the phone off mute they start in with the death threats to the squirrels in our yard.
posted by bwvol at 8:43 AM on February 6 [8 favorites]


I love going to the office. My chair at work is more comfortable

than your bed?
posted by biffa at 8:50 AM on February 6 [11 favorites]


Yeah... Left the wfh behind when I realized I was spending more time grazing and placating the cats, and than being productive. Well, productive of anything beyond extra weight and ever-more-demanding cats. The dog and I are experimenting by going to a small rented office daily.
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 8:50 AM on February 6


palindromeisnotapalindrome: "I am working from home today... so you can see how that's going."

Oh don't worry. I'm at work and it's going about the same...
posted by chavenet at 8:52 AM on February 6 [4 favorites]


Anyone ever come up with a simple "rent-a-cubicle" kind of business?

There are lots of places like this, at least in the DC area. Some are pretty sterile and aim more for people who need to rent conference rooms or space to meet clients by the hour in something that looks like a "traditional office", and others are seemingly friendly co-op type situations with free food and coffee etc. working on a more startuppy crowd.

There's also a very intriguing model that offers both childcare and coworking office space for a single membership fee, which is pretty neat given the number of people I know who only work from home because it happens to be advantageous in terms of childcare, not because they really want to sit around in their pajamas all day.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:54 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


I worked from home for a number of years and then decided to get a coworking space, which immeasurably improved my happiness as well as my health, since working from home also includes being extra sedentary.

It is true that cities are better suited for large coworking outfits like WeWork, but I'm sure there's room for at least one in every moderately-sized town. At the very least people could form a makeshift coop at someone's house. Because, yeah, working from home is hells of isolating.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:02 AM on February 6


The chair thing is definitely a perk. I went and looked up the chair I have at work with the idea that maybe I could get one at home. Wheeeeew, we have nice chairs. I'm sure my company didn't pay retail for them. I'm not going to be able to afford one anytime soon for at home. I can't figure out an arrangement where I can work from bed with multiple monitors. I may possibly have moved my desk over in front of the sofa to deal with this at the moment. I like living alone.

Regular headphones actually work just fine to deal with the office noise for just me--but not when other people expect to be having verbal conversations with me. Which of course they do.
posted by Sequence at 9:04 AM on February 6


I work from home, but I have an enforced schedule and customers (figuratively) breathing down my neck to get their issues resolved. The bulk of my job is phone/online support, so I have to be available for incoming calls on top of testing and researching/troubleshooting in between. I pretty much have to stay on task, and have clear starting and ending points (and meal break) for my workday. The biggest plus for me is that I don't miss the commute one damn bit - I can "sleep in" until 10-15 minutes before the official start of my office hours.

But yeah, the pajamas, lack of grooming, the lure of the fridge is all there. Anytime I leave the house (which isn't often) I have to remember to shower and shave off several days' worth of growth first so I can be a presentable human being.

On the other hand, all my "co-workers" are in a different state - I don't know any of them by sight. It can certainly be isolating but I'm enough of an introvert that that rarely bothers me. I do have friends and a pretty good social circle, so I get some periodic interaction with real live people to help ease the potential loneliness. And of course there's always Metafilter!

In conclusion, land of contrasts, yadda yadda yadda.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:20 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


The one time I tried a coworking space I got stuck on a desk next to one of the conference rooms. Which, fine, only the conference rooms didn't have real walls, just those bullshit "we pretend to be a wall in all ways but the important one, which is sound" walls that doesn't go up to the ceiling. So I heard their entire meeting.

Which, because they were some awful start up, required everyone in the meeting to begin with a personal check in that took the form of an emoji.

Like, "hi, I'm Gabriella, for the people conferencing in. I'm the new designer, and today I'm a smiley face."

Nobody picked anything but smiley face, I assume because capitalism is cruel and demands every last bit of every human soul.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:21 AM on February 6 [11 favorites]


When I hear new parents say they want to work from home to avoid putting the baby in daycare I think, No, you aren't going to be working.
posted by waving at 9:25 AM on February 6 [8 favorites]


"I put on pants every day."
You will come to remember this as the time of innocence.

[Cite: original research]
posted by Horkus at 9:27 AM on February 6 [14 favorites]


Mitchell and Webb on working from home...
posted by HoraceH at 9:30 AM on February 6 [4 favorites]


Yeah I bought what I consider my formal sweatpants and I uh...don't want to think about how often I remember to shower, tbh.

But formal sweatpants are a first step. Getting into habits that let me get shit done was the big thing, but now...I might want to look into the rest of adulting.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:32 AM on February 6


I knew working from home was getting to me when I went to Subway on a Thursday, and I couldn't order, because I hadn't spoken to anyone all week and my voice just cracked every time I tried to speak.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:45 AM on February 6 [13 favorites]


This is my life, except without the wife and all that food.
posted by Miss Cellania at 9:50 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


I needed this today. I've been working from home for 10+ years now and this is so spot on. I haven't laughed that hard in ages. It's much better now as a couple of years ago I made some changes and some accommodations that helped me a lot but prior to that this was way too close to what things looked like.

I wish they'd left the "meerkats to porn" thing out. It's hilarious but it limits the audience I can share it with somewhat. Trying to decide if my boss, who also works from home, will think that bit is funny enough that I feel safe to share.

If anyone wants suggestions on how to cope, let me know and I can make some.
posted by Defective_Monk at 9:58 AM on February 6


While chatting with an American Express CSR, she mentioned that her entire team worked from home with very strict limits. You had to have a private, quiet room in which to work. Callers can never hear cats/kids/etc. Also, you've got a webcam for conferencing that your supervisor can pop in at any time, seeing you and your screen to check up/in with you. Adding in the typical call center stats requirements and you've got a work from home gig that requires a work-from-work effort.
posted by dr_dank at 10:07 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


I have been working from home since 2002 in various jobs. It has been years since I've had a gig where I could get away with slacking, but ooiih, the jammies and grazing and sooooo much coffee...

I wouldn't trade it for anything.
posted by MissySedai at 10:09 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Anyone ever come up with a simple "rent-a-cubicle" kind of business?

Regus. The four California employees at my company all work from home (since the office is in another state). One of them used a Regus cube almost every day until his kid started preschool. My boss and I rent a little conference room from them when we need to work on something together.

I can't work in a coffee shop. I'm writing code and doing software modifications; my laptop has a 13" screen and the coffee shops would probably not be into me bringing even one of my two large monitors with me.

If you happen to wear Women's plus size pants: knit pants that totally pass for casual trousers and have pockets but really are pajama pants.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:09 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


I got very lucky with my co-working space. I got accepted as a member after the first couple of years and everything - locker, printer, meeting rooms - are free. I do prefer staying home when I'm on a project's endstate for maximum productivity, but having this option gives me that reason to put on pants and longjohns and fleece and the down to go through darkness in -12C blizzards to a big warm hangar with free cocoa and sounds of people around you. Then, the "day off" at home is a luxury, like today.
posted by infini at 10:20 AM on February 6


A friend of mine who happens to be an academic once confessed that when she works from home, she gets dressed for the office/lecture theatre, in a suit. And follows the clock.

Apparently it helps her get into a "work" frame of mind.

I work from home and the only reason I'm dressed is because I had to go out a couple of hours ago and in half an hour I'm going out to give a talk.
posted by cstross at 10:23 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


I out on a tie when I need to work at home and take it off when I can shelf work stuff.

The social isolation can get a bit uh, wall crawling.

On the other hand my kitchen has never been more spotless and well organized.
posted by The Whelk at 10:25 AM on February 6


Office chair tip: Herman Miller Aeron's are nice but pricey. On the other hand, they've been around for 20 years now, so they're regularly available second-hand on eBay for about a quarter to a third of list price. And when parts break (typically the seat frame) you can buy replacement bits and fit them with a screwdriver/hex driver.

My wife and I are on Aerons 2 and 3 over more than 10 years of using them at home. (Aeron 1 finally began to succumb to too many stress fractures after a decade.) Total cost, including repairs, is still less than we'd have paid for a single new one ... and a lot less than a new "cheap" chair from Staples or CostCo every 2-4 years.
posted by cstross at 10:28 AM on February 6 [4 favorites]


A friend of mine who happens to be an academic once confessed that when she works from home, she gets dressed for the office/lecture theatre, in a suit. And follows the clock.

I'm an academic and working from home today and woke up at 9.20. I was also able to watch an episode of Vikings over my coffee break and lunch break. Theoretically I could do this at work but not really since it looks pretty bad if anyone comes to the door.


Apparently it helps her get into a "work" frame of mind.


Based on what a number of Mefites have said already in this thread the danger would be of getting arrested when the home frame of mind starts happening at work.
posted by biffa at 10:41 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


15 years ago, I used to be a desktop support tech for a not-so-small anymore startup and I used to have take calls from sales folks out in the field and talk them through solving different problems on their machines. The eating thing is this article reminded me of a conversation I had with, Clay, one of our reps who worked out of his house in Missouri, and while we waiting for his computer to finishing rebooting, he'd just make idle chit chat.

"you still riding your bike into work everyday?"

"oh yeah."

"man, I really need to do that. There's a bike path just outside my house but I never go. All I do is just sit here in my underwear, typing away. Furthest I go to walk is just to the kitchen to get another can of peanuts."

"I kind of don't need to be thinking of you in your underwear, Clay."

"you know what? My wife's also a salesperson and she's been on a road trip for the last six days and I also just kind of forget to do the laundry, so..."

"Clay. Is your computer finished rebooting, Clay? Please tell me when it's online again. I'm going to keep talking until it's finished rebooting. Thank you, Clay."

nowadays, I manage a distributed software teams with devs working from home in several different cities. Every time I interview, I ask something like, "so, what was your last/typical day of working from home like?" if they ask for clarification, my only hint is asking for some description of structure, "like, how do you usually start your day, what do you like to do by lunch time? how do you decide to stop?"

If they ever just mumble vagaries, I just sketch impressions of Clay, sitting in his underwear, shoving peanuts into his mouth, an empty bike path next to him.
posted by bl1nk at 10:54 AM on February 6 [10 favorites]


My ADD experience is the opposite of posters above: I cannot work from home because everything is a distraction. In the office everything is much less stimulating, probably because a good 50% of my colleagues are working from home on any given day.

Also regarding pets on conference calls: I've tried to institute a policy that if I can hear your pet or baby then you must share a cute picture, but so far the only time it worked was the woman who told us a bear was taking apart her barbecue outside and she did send a picture.
posted by buildmyworld at 10:54 AM on February 6 [14 favorites]


I cannot get comfortable the Aeron series for some reason. Here at $ENTERPRISE we've quite a few aerons that seem to collect in people's offices yet never get used. It's not to dissimilar to how tumbleweeds collect in fence corners.

I've an RFM Multi in my cube, and I'm seriously considering buying one for home.
posted by endotoxin at 11:05 AM on February 6


I'm about to quit my job and retire, but I'd like to find a job to keep busy up where my home actually is (about 1200 miles from here). I like the structure of going in to a workplace and can happily read on a bus, so that is kind of plus time, but I've worked from home before and it has been very good for me. I suspect I was more productive from home than I am here - because there are always distractions in my office, noise, phones ringing and so on. To make things worse the chairs are awful and some of the conference rooms have chairs that are even more awful.

Maybe I'll just do some fun projects for a while though.
posted by Death and Gravity at 11:31 AM on February 6


If I didn't have to physically take things to the post office almost every day, I would never wear pants again.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 11:40 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


I just now started working from home and one thing about working in an office...you could pretty much goof off without fear cuz other people would largely just be goofing off and chances are the boss goofs off too. Everyone collectively knows when its okay to goof off and you have an understanding.

At home everyone already *assumes* you are goofing off so you are starting at a disadvantage.


This is a really great comment.
posted by atoxyl at 11:53 AM on February 6 [4 favorites]


...bottomless soy chai lattes?
posted by radicalawyer at 12:11 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


This was wonderful.

I worked from home for the better part of six years. I was impressed when I discovered my dog knew the difference between pajama pants and outside pants, because she figured out that outside pants meant I might open the front door. And now she knows the difference between the ratty INSIDE bathrobe and the more modest OUTSIDE bathrobe I wear to sit on the porch.

Coffee shops are often out of the question when you work from home. You have to wear shoes. You have to shower. Also, if you have a call, it's no good to have clattering in the background. So I would just put the kettle on and listen to Coffitivity between calls.
posted by mochapickle at 12:30 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


I go out every night to a deli to get dinner mainly because it does help to remember there are other humans in the world on a daily basis. This is spot-on.
posted by maxwelton at 12:40 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


People who work from home should get together with others for socializing like play dates for children.
posted by ShakeyJake at 12:45 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


since i started working from home i have had a really hard time figuring out how to be politically active aside from voting and donating because i sort of feel like i'm not actually a participant in society anymore?
posted by murphy slaw at 12:49 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


I've been working at home for nearly five years now. I also live alone. I think the two lowest points were:

1) The times I hid when delivery guys knocked on the door because I was too embarrassed to be seen in what I was wearing. After having to make one time-consuming trip the UPS office myself because I'd missed delivery, I made a rule that my around home outfits had to be presentable enough that I could stand to have my delivery guys see them, and I invested in some thrift shop yoga pants and hoodies.

2) The time I found myself trying to learn to do the hustle, using the cat for a partner, when I was supposed to be researching Canadian tax law. Actually that might be a high point. As I said, it's been five years at home in near total isolation and maybe I don't know the difference any more.
posted by orange swan at 12:50 PM on February 6 [14 favorites]


I don't have a problem focusing on work at home, but it took me until last month before I finally got up the wherewithal to make sure I got out of the house for some exercise on my WFH days. I'm up to a 20-day streak of hitting my move goal on my Apple Watch™. So, that's something.
posted by fedward at 1:09 PM on February 6


my nayme is me,
and wen is day,
i do the stuf
and earn my paye
i wer no pants,
no brush or comb -
i danc with catte.

i work from hom.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 1:21 PM on February 6 [76 favorites]


I wish I could work from home --- now that tech has moved almost entirely to open offices, I'm at about 50% of my productivity compared to when I had a personal office. But few companies have either offices or WFH policies these days (I mean, I can maybe WFH once a week, but not as my default setting).

When I have briefly had the opportunity in the past, it was pretty great. I have a wife and 2 cats and thats pretty much all the social interaction I want anyway, so I wouldn't worry about the isolation (in fact, one of the things that really stresses me out about work, especially in an "open" environment, is I'm forced to socialize all day).

(To be perfectly fair, I guess there are a few companies that would let me WFH, but the pay cut in all cases I've found would be too dramatic)
posted by thefoxgod at 1:21 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


The trick to working from home effectively is scheduling ALL your time. Yes, even the meerkat videos.

Especially the "meerkat" videos...
posted by danny the boy at 1:23 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


...bottomless soy chai lattes?

posted by radicalawyer at 12:11 PM on February 6 [+] [!]

Sorry, I misrepresented. I switched to almond at the beginning of the year.
posted by mykescipark at 1:48 PM on February 6


Back when I had telework days at my first job after college, I slacked off so much. I would routinely sign on at 8:30 am, then just go back to bed until a coworker pinged me to talk about work. It was terrible and glorious at the same time but I felt so guilty about slacking off even though I had no willpower to stop. On top of that, when your family knows you're home, they routinely ask you to do errands for them, and you can't say no because "if you were really working you wouldn't have answered the phone, and I just saw that you posted on facebook."

Now I can get up to two days of telework a week and I choose to make the 1:30 trip each way to work every day because I'm just not cut out for working from home.

Also, when there's location-specific reasons for my employer to let everyone stay home that day (like a snow storm), I get a legitimate day off with pay, while my coworkers that telework have to work. It's pretty sweet.
posted by numaner at 2:08 PM on February 6


So I'm slow, but I just realized that this is the flip side to this FPP and now I'm all sad.
posted by Mchelly at 2:27 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


People who work from home should get together with others for socializing like play dates for children.

When I started working from home, I also joined Meetup.com, because I knew if I didn't have regular plans, I might never leave the house. It didn't solve all my problems, but it was at least helpful. Plus, I met most of my current friend-group via Meetup.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:35 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


I love slacking off, which is why I try to get work out of the way as fast as possible. I find procrastination stressful—if I have things that need to be done I want to get them done quickly so I stop feeling stressed. (I'll frequently procrastinate on less urgent tasks like fixing stuff around the house, so it's not like I'm a type-A person across the board.)

I appreciate working alone or from home so that I can order my tasks in descending order of stressfulness, rather than an arbitrary order based on when five random people can agree on a meeting time.
posted by nev at 3:06 PM on February 6


The Herman Miller Aeron is the best chair for farting.
posted by rlk at 3:14 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


I worked mostly from home for a couple years and could never manage an 8-hour work day. It would inevitably be either a 2-hour day or a 16-hour day. Also, I had a stretch where I didn't speak to a soul for two weeks. It got so isolating that I posted a personal on Craigslist just for someone to talk to. That's how I met my wife...
posted by bluejayway at 3:32 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


There's something very comforting about watching the most gruesome horror movies in my giant purple cat Kigurumi while I code web pages... but man if that's a day where I have to write or do in-depth research before launching new content verticals, fuuuuuuuuuck.

Can't do brain work, can do busy work. That six weeks I spent editing a friend's first novel was glorious, I tell you!

I too enjoy screaming to let the UPS guy know there's someone home when he obsessively rings the doorbell/angry-knocks before sprinting back to his truck. Makes me feel so dang alive whenever I get new treasures from the Amazon!
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 3:46 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


than your bed?

Businessman Does His Work Lying On Bed Like Schoolgirl

(pants optional)
posted by effbot at 4:11 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Best laugh I've had in days...thanks!
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:00 PM on February 6


Based on Greg_Ace's reply, I have a sneaking suspicion we have the same job.
posted by sixfootaxolotl at 5:15 PM on February 6


Yep, I literally had to write a Chrome extension to help with these issues. My browser doesn't let me surf until I've been outside.
posted by gwint at 5:16 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Based on Greg_Ace's reply, I have a sneaking suspicion we have the same job

Well, since I don't know what my coworkers look like, it's quite possible!
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:23 PM on February 6


Well, since I don't know what my coworkers look like, it's quite possible!

I'm gorgeous and that's all you need to know.
posted by sixfootaxolotl at 5:25 PM on February 6 [8 favorites]


I worked from home for a few years and enjoyed it quite a bit. My only issue was that I wasn't making enough money (I was freelancing, not an employee of any kind). So, going to the coffee shop would have been nice, but it was kind of an unaffordable luxury for me, as were most activities involving leaving the house to go to a commercial establishment. And my work can't really be done on a laptop, so going out like that was purely an isolation break. If I could make a decent living at it and be able to keep my own slightly irregular hours, I'd gladly go back to it. I used to work for a few hours in the morning, take the dog out for a long walk around 11:30, eat lunch, work for a couple more hours before making dinner, and then a couple more hours at night (assuming I actually had work to do). I did miss the camaraderie of working in a office from time to time, so I think my sweet spot might be working from home 4 days a week and going into an office on the other.
posted by LionIndex at 5:27 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


I legit have no idea where any non-yoga/non-stretchy pants are located in my home. And I don't care.
posted by Bacon Bit at 5:55 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


I'm gorgeous and that's all you need to know.
posted by sixfootaxolotl


And you've got those nifty external gills...
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:16 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I have this thing where I think of myself as being lazy and undisciplined but then I hear from other people and realise I'm not. I worked from home for a year and... I worked (shrug). We lived in a great urban neighbourhood (easy to get out), I set up some in-person volunteer work, and the job was 3/4 time (30hrs/wk allowing for shorter "sessions" of work which is easier, and said volunteer work). I am also awfully introverted.

So yeah, I think it partly depends on how many hours you're expected to pull. I couldn't do 60 wfh hours... but 30-40 was okay. I actually really loved working from home, esp as an independent contractor - autonomy!. I hate my open plan office because it's this weird combination of distracting but also total sensory deprivation: really white, climate controlled, recycled air, bright lights... ugh. At home I can have all the windows open, sunlight shifting through the trees and through my windows, incense lit...*sigh*.
posted by jrobin276 at 6:34 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Ah, I think I start to understand why some of you make so much sense to me—'cause we're living/working the same way. I'm definitely recognizing a lot of usernames here.

I feel lucky that my days are busy enough, with frequent client calls and everything else scheduled in between, that I really don't have a ton of the ennui some describe. Some weeks are harder than others, of course—last week was definitely a hard one with everything going on in the world. But even then, when I'm not feeling it, I'm usually heartened to know that I'm far from alone, in my workplace or in the world at large. Universal truths and cycles—holiday schedules, world events—still apply when you work from home.

After 2 years of this, I really find it hard to imagine going back to work in an office.
posted by limeonaire at 7:22 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


I've worked from home for 18 years now, and I find that generally speaking the isolation doesn't really bother me in the slightest. I'm pretty well self-contained and self-amusing, and also (and I think importantly) I started working from home simultaneous to the rise of the earliest social media (blogs, AIM, etc) and the interaction I got from that was sufficient for my needs. These days it can actually be too much -- I sometimes have to literally disconnect the DSL from the router in order to focus. But my point is that my need for human contact was generally sated by chatting online, and otherwise I was happy to do my own work on my own schedule.

(These days ironically I see people rather more often, because it's become part of my job -- I'm going to be having a five-week book tour in March and April, for example, and I have lots of other book festivals/conferences/conventions to go to as well.)

I liked working from home because it afforded me certain privileges I might not have otherwise had, such as being the stay-at-home parent and therefore being able to spend a lot of time with my daughter as she grew up. Inasmuch as I was able to work my schedule around her, having those parental duties didn't much impact my work capacity. And also, of course, the whole "I haven't put on pants in three days because why would I" thing is (usually) pretty great as well.

Interestingly, the drawback for me about working from home was less about the working and more the public perception that I wasn't working, and that my wife was the sole breadwinner of the household. For many years, much of the writing I did was corporate consulting and thus hard to point to; my neighbors only saw me tooling around with my kid. Additionally when I told people I was a writer, most people assumed I wasn't making any appreciable money, because, well. Writing is not exactly a remunerative profession, and I lived in the middle of nowhere, i.e., not anywhere I'd get local work. So basically I had to fight against the impression many people had that I was a bum. This is less of a problem now.

I recognized a lot of what was going on in the humor piece, but I think the difference for me was that all of those things were a feature, not a bug, for me. I can't really imagine working in an office at this point in my life. After nearly two decades of working from home, I think I've become settled in my ways. Fortunately it looks like I'll be doing what I'm doing for a while yet.
posted by jscalzi at 7:47 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]


People keep telling me that they get so much more work done at home, or near the holidays when the office is empty, but I am rarely ever in the situation where I can just sit down and do straight coding. There's always someone who hasn't given me the vital information I need that I have to track down, which is so much harder when they're not physically around.
posted by ckape at 7:52 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


479 dimes is quite a lot! I have a 1-liter change jar and I don't think I've ever filled up more than two rolls of dimes when emptying out. I'd estimate we're dealing with a 1-gallon jar at least.
posted by clorox at 11:51 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Metafilter, plunkin' on the guitar):

Ha see what I do is put the electric guitars in my office (because I can play loud AF after hours and on weekends there). Then when I'm home , no temptation (well there might be an acoustic somewhere in the vicinity) and when at work they wait patiently (perhaps gently weeping) for me at the end of the day when I have the place to myself, like a reward.

I'm on a leave at the moment and can work from home. But now I have to go to the office at night almost every day just to play.

So TLDR I currently am working from home days and going into the office at night to have fun. Both are in NYC so it's never isolating. And also: cat.
posted by spitbull at 4:36 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Oh man, guys, this is so weird, I also work from home and spend a lot of time on MetaFilter.

It's been going on eight and a half years now since I quit my previous job and started working full time from home, and it's definitely a pros and cons thing but I find the pros fit me really well and the cons are manageable. MeFi's an unusual job in some ways and I think that's part of why it works for me; I can do job stuff that needs doing, and then do Whatever Is In My House when it's quiet, which suits my distractibility pretty well.

The social isolation thing is definitely a thing, though like jscalzi I can get a pretty good social fill from online interactions much of the time. My wife has been home more the last few months as she's finished a degree and is looking for work and that's changed the balance and rhythm of our at-home patterns a little in a way that I will likely miss once she's back out of the house much of the time.

Which, on the coworking front, I've been working with a bunch of other creative folks in Portland to start up a creative coworking collective in town—we're hoping to open really soon now, actually, which I'm excited about—and I'm planning to make my investment in that idea succeeding a good excuse to actually get out of the house and be there a few times a week. I don't really need a space to work, since I've got this perfectly nice home office, but being around people in a casual, background-radiation sort of way is I think pretty good for me as part of the mix. And part of the motivation for starting up that space is that it's good for a lot of other people too. I'm excited about it being a coworking space but not a weirdly corporate, cube-away-from-home deal.
posted by cortex at 7:54 AM on February 7 [8 favorites]


Work at home and ADHD here. The same problems with attention span I had in cubicle land I have at home. If I get into a hyper-focus mode I can work like a demon. If I can't I'll spend half the day trying to sift through a couple thousand comments in one of those election/Trump threads. That ain't healthy.

But not having to get up early and trying to get to bed early has been a real change for me. I have battled sleep deprivation all my life. I am a light sleeper and getting my brain to shut down is a real challenge. Now I can drift off around midnight, get up after 7-8 hours (provided I didn't wake up in the middle of the night), and can actually work without my head crashing into the keyboard. In thirty years of working in corporate and gov't offices I never had that luxury. I'm better off at home.

I somewhat miss the social part of cubicle land. My last long-tenure job I left a lot of good friends. We stay in touch via email and social media but it's not the same and we're all drifting apart. The isolation does get to me some times. I'm an introvert but I liked seeing my friends on a daily basis, talking every day. Nothing I can do to fix that.

I usually get dressed in the morning but it's jeans, t-shirt/flannel shirt, sweat socks or slippers. I make sure I keep somewhat regular in terms of showers and shaving. HOWEVER, if I know I'm not going out that day I am afraid that going commando in a pair of comfortable sweats is an option that I am way too comfortable with.
posted by Ber at 11:24 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


I work from home (mostly as a housewife, which is difficult to do in an office setting) and while amused I didn't relate to this piece until I got to:

ROBERT: (Pause.) I remember ham . . . lots of ham.
OPERATOR: In a sandwich?
ROBERT: No. No sandwich. Just ham pieces.


I have in front of me, while I read this, the slices of leftover prosciutto I'm eating for lunch.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:51 AM on February 7 [3 favorites]


I love going to the office. My chair at work is more comfortable

than your bed?


I worked at home for over 20 years (until this past June) and I'd made a contraption for working in bed but found out that laying down all day is a great way to get horrible chest colds.

Starting back in a studio has been a life saver. I do hate my commute though.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:32 PM on February 7


Ahahaha, I laughed so hard at this. And this is literally why I could never work from home. Replace "pornography" with "90s soap opera episodes" and that's exactly what would happen.
posted by Aquifer at 8:06 AM on February 8


Hey I'm having a taste of working from home today! The snowpocalypse made my boss suggest that if anyone could leave early and work from home this afternoon that we should do so, and I was all "oh me me me!"

I don't know if it would be sustainable for me as a permanent thing, but for today, it kept one of my workplace nemises from coming over to bother me about something (which she could have figured out herself), and it is also allowing me to be dressed in jammies and make myself one of the funky open-face grilled cheese-and-egg sandwiches from a cookbook I have, so I'll take it for today.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:15 PM on February 9


and i can share the recipe for the open-faced grilled cheese sandwich if anyone wants because it is super-easy and uses staples you've probably got in the house anyway and you can call it lunch
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:16 PM on February 9


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