Working from home is becoming a real trend and those who experience it will go on and on about the benefits of it: productivity, flexibility, healthier life, more quality time… pretty much all agree. But now and then, when I discuss this topic with people working in a classic office environment, I hear the same recurring statement: “You work from home? You must feel lonely!”
Come on. Please get rid of the idea that my days are filled in with crying in the corner of my office wrapped up in a fleece blanket while finishing a Ben & Jerry’s jar. (If that was the situation I’d be choosing the Chocolate Fudge Brownie though).
I swear I don’t feel cast away. I am connected to the world and the world is connected to me. When it’s not an Outlook email popping up, it’s a Skype message, or the telephone ringing. And while waiting for the moderator of the conference call to join, the other team members and I get to socialize, no need to stand by the coffee machine to talk about [insert random coffee machine conversation topic here]. I am connected to other team members and oh! Do they know how to reach out when they have a question or need something done ASAP.
The good thing here is that I can answer any call in my slippers. Not that I actually do it, but my office is MY place. I am in a comfort zone, peaceful and quiet, no white noise in the back. And while I can only see their faces on-screen, I am pretty sure my co-workers do attend that conference call in slippers. I don’t have concrete evidence, but there’s no way you can be that productive if you’re wearing 4 inch heels at work.
Second common statement I hear is: “I’d spend my day watching TV”. I am 100% positive that the person saying this has NEVER watched TV during the day. A little background here: My Home-Office is located in France where the Day TV program primarily consists in:
– 10th Rebroadcasts of German TV shows involving a cop and dog, first aired in the early 80’s given the type of houseboat car the cop’s driving and the fancy brown & orange wallpaper in the background
– Natural disasters movies involving a picture perfect family and lame special effects; where everyone ends up safe, happy and thankful for the avalanche/tsunami/meteorite crash (select all that apply) that brought them closer.
– Cooking TV-shows involving the death of a conger by a mean and dedicated lady, for a recipe that’s supposed to be completed in 5 hours and 12 minutes, although they were miraculously able to restrict it to the half-hour show – but who eats conger anyway?
Tempted to watch TV during the day? Checked. And here are some extra reasons not to:
1. When your client trusts you, you want to do everything that gives them good reason to do so.
2. You are hired to deliver. By demonstrating that you can, you will receive repeat business so roll up these sleeves!
3. When you are an employee, you report to someone. Reporting to the client directly is no different. You have to deliver and you’ll look bad if you don’t. And you’ll feel good when you do.
Of course I have more flexibility. But one of the key to success is to scrupulously stick to strict office hours. If I have to shorten them, I catch up on some other time. Not a problem, my office is literally a step away so I can hop in and hop out quickly if need be.
And that’s not a constraint because I have chosen to be an independent meeting planner, so I am betting on myself. Up to me to manage my tasks accordingly, when I get up in the morning I know I have to report to the ultimate boss… Me! And I’m telling you, you don’t want Me to mess with you!
And to those telling me about the temptations of the home chores: uh-uh again. When you consider something as a chore during your spare time, you can’t expect the light of the day to make it sexier. Oh no I will never be tempted to scratch that dried-out frying pan over anything else.
Of course the list of benefits of working from home extends over productivity and flexibility:
– Reduced costs – gas, insurance, meals…
– Reduced stress, no need to lean on that horn hoping the line will move!
– Learning curve… if you didn’t know how to do it, well that’s your opportunity to learn!
– You’re everyone: the CEO, the webmaster, the queen of copy machine and printers, the high qualified tech fixing that light bulb. So when you’re running an event, your skill range is an asset, and “yes, I know exactly what kind of plug you need sir, let me help you with that”
– You become a creative person. “It’s not working this way? Ok I’ll find another way, but I’ll make it work for sure!”
– When your client succeeds, that’s definitely thanks to you. Talk about an ego booster!
– One of my favorite benefits: working with “grown-ups”. People who understand what’s at stake, what are the outcomes of commitment and hard work. Well ok you may not get along with everyone all the time but you usually find yourself working with other independent planners like you, who want to get the job done in the best possible way. Good bye inefficient office gossips, hello “consider it done”.
I also have a couple of extra off-record benefits to list… but not sure you’ll find them on other articles though:
– I never queue for the coffee machine. And the coffee’s actually made of… real coffee.
– I still speak to real people: the day care ladies whom I brief and debrief with every day, with complete action plan and KPI’s reporting on my son’s daily activity. You’re an event planner or you’re not.
– When I bring cake to the office, I don’t share.
– These slippers are so comfy.
– I get to pick the music every time.
– There is no internal policy telling me that I can’t have beverages on my desk, although maybe I needed one that one time when gravity proved stronger than my will power and definitely more efficient than my yelling “noooooo!!!” at the coffee mug.
– My favorite pen will not go on a field trip on another person’s desk.
– There will always be staples in my stapler.
– I never miss any delivery. Or I get to legitimately complain to the delivery company pretending I wasn’t at home when they rang.
– Bad hair days are actually not that bad if no one sees them!
I could go on and on about other benefits but I think you caught my drift… I’m one of those who love working from home, and can only find benefits to it. And next time people look at me with doubtful eyes, I’ll ask if their co-workers curl up on their laps to keep them warm like my cat does.
Written by Sophie Deville, Project Manager, Legend Conference Planning