Since 2005, the number of work-from-home professionals has grown 140%. In fact, in the U.S. alone, over 4.3 million employees work from home at least 50% of the time and 40% more employers have embraced flexible workplace policies.
But if you’ve never done it before, you may wonder what working remotely is like, especially since there are many misconceptions out there. Read on to learn five common work-from-home myths and what the truth actually looks like.
Myth #1: You have a flexible schedule
One of the biggest misconceptions about working from home is that you are the master of your time. The truth is that your flexibility will depend on your work arrangement. If you’re a freelancer or self-employed, you’ll have more control over your working hours, but you’ll still be expected to respect the working hours of colleagues and clients.
If you’re a full-time employee, however, you’ll most likely be expected to keep the same schedule as you would in the office. So while you have essentially eliminated your commute, you’ll still need to be working and available during the same hours as your manager and coworkers.
Myth #2: You don’t need an office
The fantasy of working from anywhere—your bedroom, dining room, or local coffee shop—is enticing, but it’s also misleading. Just because you can work from anywhere doesn’t mean you should.
When working remotely, a designated workspace can positively impact your discipline and productivity. You’ll want a quiet and organized space where you can make calls, have access to reliable internet, and can store paperwork. You may not have the room for a separate office in your home, but you should make sure that you have at least a desk and a filing cabinet (and any other necessities).
And if you decide you need a change of scenery from time to time, you can make that choice, knowing that you have an “official” desk you can always return to.
Myth #3: You’ll be lonely and excluded from office life
Even though you’re not physically in the office, working from home doesn’t have to be an isolating experience. Whether you’re a full-time employee, freelancer, or self-employed, your working style will determine how much and how often you interact with your manager, coworkers, and clients. But remember, if you are full time, you’ll be expected to communicate with your team just as you would if you were in the office.
It’s also important to remember that although you're not in the office, this doesn't mean that you won't be a part of office life.
In a survey of remote workers, 52% reported communicating with their manager once daily. A 2017 Gallup report noted that employees who spend 60% to 80% of their time working remotely had the highest rates of engagement. The same report also highlighted that those who spent three or four days per week working remotely still felt connected to professional growth opportunities and close office friendships.
Myth #4: You don’t have to get dressed
It’s easy to believe that because you’re not going into the office, your pajamas can be your work uniform, but that’s not the case. If you’re expected to participate on video conference calls, for example, you’ll want to be dressed appropriately.
You may also find that getting dressed every day for work can help you take yourself and your work more seriously, as well as help you feel energetic and motivated for the work day ahead. You don’t need to wear a suit, but wearing an outfit that feels comfortable yet presentable can help you seamlessly make the transition from off-duty life to work life when you don’t have to leave the house.
Myth #5: You’ll enjoy a better work-life balance
If you don’t feel you had work-life balance when you were going into the office every day, you’ll likely still struggle at home, too. Your hours will be determined by your work arrangement, so just because you’re more physically present at home doesn’t mean that you’ll find more time to take care of non-work responsibilities or spend extra time with loved ones.
What you can do to create more balance while working from home is make sure you have clear boundaries. This includes sticking to office hours, having a designated workspace, and getting dressed for work each morning.
You can also improve your work-life balance by doing things like sharing your schedule with anyone you live with so they know when you’re not to be disturbed, arranging to eat with a friend during your lunch hour at least once a week, and shutting down your computer at the end of the work day. Don’t make any plans you wouldn’t feel comfortable making if you were working from your office.
Clearer boundaries will help you honor your work obligations and organize a more enjoyable life at home.
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