Working From Home is the Worst Thing that’s Ever Happened to Me.
In 2018 I walked into my manager's office and apologetically handed over my two weeks notice. I actually liked my job, but unexpected life circumstances required me to move out of state and closer to family.
So I walked into the office that day fully prepared to quit.
I knew my company did not regularly employ remote workers (this was well before the pandemic), but in the midst of quitting my job I offhandedly offered up the comment “I’d be willing to work remote”.
My manager paused, handed my two weeks notice back, and just said ‘hold on to that for now’.
By 3pm that day I was called back into her office with a few other managers to discuss my new remote job with the company. Thus began what at first seemed like the most charming thing in the world, but now I’ve realized was really quite the opposite.
Working From Home Seems Charming
Those first few months, life was fantastic. I could not believe this was my life. I could wake up minutes before starting work, roll out of bed and just open my computer. No commute. No getting ready. I didn’t even need to shower.
I quickly realized this was counterproductive. I started to realize the necessity of still taking care of oneself to feel productive. So I learned to wake up early, shower, and get ready for the day. But still no commute. And I could still wear whatever I wanted. Which always meant comfy pants and never office attire.
I could even work anywhere I wanted. I dragged my laptop to every coffee shop, to the park, and to every corner of my house. I went on vacation and just brought my work with me. I worked from the car, the hotel, and everywhere in between.
Remote life was absolutely as wonderful as I thought it would be. Until it wasn’t.
I was skipped over for promotions
Working remotely for a company that did not ‘do remote employees’ was not great for my career. My career essentially stagnated at this point. To work remotely, I had to forego a promotion and remain in my current position.
“Out of sight, out of mind” took a very literal meaning for my career. I was often conference called into meetings with a cell phone on speaker in the middle of a large conference table. The gesture was there, but I could never tell who was talking or hear clearly when voices overlapped. Contributing to these calls was nearly impossible.
Three years later and I was still in the same role with moderate annual inflation raises. At first, I was told my remote position was temporary and wouldn’t last, but eventually, they offered me the promotion I had originally had to turn down.
When I learned what the heavy workload was and the teeny raise that came with it, paired with the fact that I could have had this role three years ago — I felt completely deflated.
Working remotely stalled my career.
Isolation is more damaging than it seems
After I got my tiny raise and was drowning in the heavy workload of the new job title, I applied for another job. Frustrated by the lack of career movement I applied for a similar role online and got the job. With a 40% pay increase!
I was ecstatic. All that career stalling felt okay with a new job and higher pay, and to make it even better this new job was remote too.
But one year into the new job and something was becoming painfully obvious. I was not the same person I was three years ago. I used to be lively and energetic and enjoy the company of other people. I used to be somewhat of an extrovert. But now, three years into a work-from-home lifestyle and I never wanted to leave the house, never wanted to see other people, and didn’t quite have the energy for anything.
Isolation for some people is immediately painful and obviously bad. For others, it starts out being really nice, but slowly, over time, is detrimental to your mental health.
We are social creatures. We need community. Life is not meant to be lived alone. Work is not the only place to create community, you might not even like your coworkers, but the truth is it takes up 40+ hours of our week and if we spend all that time alone and then crash on the couch in the evenings we are ultimately living the majority of our lives alone.
Working from home is not all it’s cracked up to be
Alright, it is an exaggeration to say it is the worst thing that has ever happened to me. There was a lot of good that came out of working remotely. But I would be remiss to not acknowledge the downfalls as well.