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FROM READERS: Observations on working from home

Sunday, August 26, 2012 | 10:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:15 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, August 29, 2012
One of Jessica Kohler's coworkers stands next to a car coated in Post-it easel sheets. Kohler and her team members worked on brainstorming new ideas and developing a team mantra during a recent retreat. Kohler, who works from home, said the trip helped her settle into her work situation.

Neil and Jessica Kohler are the creators and co-authors of Kohler Created, a healthy living and lifestyle blog about their lives as they happen. They cover food, fitness, travel, backpacking and whatever other hobbies they find themselves enamored with. This article was originally posted on their blog Aug. 16.

I was recently out-of-town for my first work retreat, staying in a beautiful lake house. Pinch me, right? Once or twice a year, they rent a house and spend four to five days meeting, working through new ideas and spending time together. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was wonderful. We completely filled the six-room house, and even though this was the first time I’ve met a lot of my co-workers in person, in a weird way, it felt like home. There were kids running, strategy sessions brewing, hundreds of post-its stuck to just about every surface and plenty of good food and drinks shared and consumed.

I’ve now been working from home for two months. It’s been a whirlwind of change and adjustment, but with this trip under my belt, I’m finally feeling a little closer to being settled in. I’m finding my place within my team and offering a unique contribution. I still have plenty to learn, but I think I’m getting there.

A few people have asked me about my experiences working from home, and although I’m still fairly new to it, I have made a few somewhat amusing observations:

My blow dryer is dusty

Because I don’t see my co-workers outside of a rare Skype video chat, I’ve almost completely broken up with my hair dryer. I just let my hair dry on its own time, and then style it at some point in the day.

I’m more practical, or possibly just a cheapskate

While many people mused that I’d have to fight the urge to stay in my pajamas all day, I’ve actually had to fight the urge not to wear my gym clothes all day. Since we go to the gym around 5 every evening during the week, I’ve fallen into the habit of just pulling on my (clean) gym clothes in the morning in an effort to save laundry. I guess that might be considered lazy, but I see it as overly practical. Maybe once it cools down, I'll feel like going out more during the day…

I sleep less, but I sometimes sleep when you’re probably at work

Neil jokes that I probably take naps throughout the day but so far, I’ve actually slept less. I wake up every morning with Neil so our hours somewhat align, but I typically end up working later. In my mind, even though we work the same hours, I feel like I don’t have anywhere to “be,” and if I get on a roll, I can knock back an extra 30 minutes or hour in bed. I’ve been good about not doing it more than once or twice, though, and that’s because I stayed up until 3 a.m.

I’ve probably stayed a little too close to home

Although I have the flexibility to make my own schedule and kind of set my own rules, I find that I really don’t leave my house that often throughout the day. I think part of the reason has been the summer heat, but the other is that it still feels like I’m playing hookey and doing something wrong.

I work more hours, are you surprised?

On the heels of working later into the night, I find that overall, I’m putting in a lot more hours — but stressing a lot less. I don’t know if it’s dogs in the office, or plenty of snacks and sunshine, but it just doesn’t bother me. In fact, I feel as if I’m working less than I did before.

While some of those might not sound so good, there by far have been more positives:

  • I feel like I have more energy and zone out a lot less.
  • I don’t spend my day rehashing or putting out other people’s fires, leaving more time for the new and experimental.
  • I have more “me” time, and my breaks no longer feel like escape attempts.
  • I actually get to talk to more people every day.

During the retreat, our team developed a mantra and a guiding statement. While the process was difficult and frustrating at times, the moment it all clicked was amazing.

So, I find myself in a somewhat unique niche. While I have a full-time employer, I feel like I live the day-to-day life of a freelancer. I love the freedom and versatility to work in the way that suits me best, but I love still having a team to learn and share a journey with. Now if only I could keep my house clean, too…

Ever notice any quirks about your job? What is your favorite part?

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising Editor Joy Mayer.


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