By and large, I have no complaints about working from home. I love it. I’ve always wanted to be a freelance writer, and so a home office has always been a default part of that dream. Buuuuuut, sometimes I suddenly remember something about having a “real job” that I sort of miss. Really? Even with all the pajama working and make-up not wearing and proximity to dogs? Yes, really.

Welcome to the home office. Again.
Welcome to the home office. Again.

While it’s not part of my life philosophy to gripe (with the exception of griping about bigots, bullies, jerks and oppressors, which I love to do), I found that identifying the things I miss about office life help me find ways to recreate them. For instance, some friends and I now co-work every Wednesday to help fulfill our craving for office chatter. It’s really super terrific. Now I just need to find the solutions to these things I genuinely miss:

    • The Commute Oh, come on, right? While I don’t miss driving or paying for gas, I do miss the solace of a morning commute, having the mental space to prepare for the day. I miss the decompression of an afternoon drive. I miss listening to Michigan Radio every day at a set time without having to think about it. Not only was getting to and from work a nice mental exercise, but it also bookends the workday. Bookends are something I do not have.
    • Running a Quick Errand Contrary to logic, I feel far less able to give myself time to run out for a coffee or pop out for a quick errand in the middle of the day now than I used to. Time feels different in self-employment. It doesn’t feel like there’s time for a break, no matter how fast it might be.
    • Going Out to Lunch Going out to lunch is amazing. And I never do it, because my whole kitchen is within shouting distance — I mean, regular speaking voice distance — from my office.
    • Wearing Real Person Clothes, Doing My Hair I do not in the slightest bit mourn the extra sleep I get now that my eyes open time and begin work time are minutes apart. That said, sometimes I miss the motivation to become presentable. There’s never time in the morning, and by 2pm it’s just silly.
    • Movement All of the above things have movement in common. Perhaps the greatest drawback to working at home is the sedentariness of the job. It’s not that I’m being lazy, there’s just no where to go! If there’s any bit of office life I have to find a way to reintegrate into my life, it’s movement. Before my body starts giving out on me.

Has anyone who works at home found solutions or substitutes to any of the issues above? If so, I’m listening.

10 thoughts on “Things I Miss About Working in an Office (Really)

  1. While I don’t work from home, I work a 5-minute commute from home, so I can relate to your comment about the commute/listening to Michigan Radio. I have solved that in the mornings by listening to Michigan Radio through their app on my iPad while I get ready. This, however, would require you to shower and dress 🙂 So, maybe it’s a 2-for-1 for you?

    1. That is a really great suggestion, Robin. For about three days I was experimenting with the MR app’s alarm clock function, which was a total fail. It’s like a foghorn! I thought I would be awakening to the soothing tones of Renee Montagne. I guess I should give just pushing the play button myself in the morning a try. 🙂

  2. Hey Natalie! I find it really helpful to create a routine. I wake up early to work out for 30 minutes on week days (low intensity Pilates or Yoga). Then I take the time to make a healthy breakfast (always makes me feel better), shower, get dressed, and then start work. I don’t do this everyday, because sometimes it’s nice to just work in your pajamas and not worry out routine, but when I’m feeling unproductive, I get back into my routine and it always helps me get more work done and feel like a “normal person”. Hope this helps!

  3. I’m totally with you on not being able to run a quick errand. It makes absolutely no sense at all, but there never seems to be time for it. And I struggle with the movement too. I try to move myself to work in a coffee shop a couple of afternoons a week (helpfully right next to errand shops) which also spurs the wearing of real clothes.

  4. I completely identify with all the points you made.

    It’s almost inconceivable that we can’t make time for a quick errand, but you’re right – it’s nigh impossible to run to the grocery store, bank or post office without causing a major schedule disruption. When you work with multiple clients, taking a vacation or a break requires logistical wizardry.

    My morning and evening commute was the only “me” time I used to get as a single parent. Now I don’t even get that. (I no longer have children in the house, but took on the caregiver role for my elderly mother, so it’s almost the same.)

    And movement….how I miss it! I am anxiously awaiting the spring thaw so I can try to get out and walk more. This winter has been incredibly long and hard – and trotting up and down the stairs to the basement just doesn’t cut it. I want to get outside and walk, walk, walk! The result of all this inactivity and forced hibernation indoors to avoid the sub-zero windchill is *not* pretty.

  5. Dogs. Dogs get my arse out of the chair and out into the crisp San Francisco air for at least an hour in the afternoon. I follow a similar routine to Kelsey. Breakfast, mediate/yoga, shower/get dressed (and this takes a TON of discipline) THEN I look at my computer. That way I feel like it’s a “real” job, with parameters, and not a 24 hour a day, never-ending, face-eating thing. Which I love, but not to the point of becoming indistinguishable from the Aeron.
    Another tidbit that works for me: $15 a month, tons of online videos at all levels and it’s always there for you.

    1. Steffny – I *love* your very apt description of the “24 hour a day, never-ending, face-eating thing”! My own dog was looking at me like I was nuts as I laughed out loud at that. I so need a routine – every time I think I have one down pat, something else comes along and yanks the rug out from under me, and I’m back to that horrible 24-hour-a-day thing.

    2. Great tip. I rely way too much on my backyard for my dog. And Yogaglo looks amazing! I’m definitely signing up. Using the same yoga YouTube video for six months is getting old.

  6. Great post Natalie, I completely relate to your issues. A couple of things I’ve tried have been very helpful. Some days I’ll go to a public space with wifi (McDonald’s, Starbucks, etc) and spend a set amount of hours there. It’s a part-time office of sorts. In terms of movement, I force myself to take breaks every hour or so and walk around for a few minutes. Sometimes I’ll backpack it to the public wifi spot, which allows for the commute time and exercise as well. Also, I try to take time to go to the post office or grocery store (when I only need something small) on my bike. Again, it gives you a break and movement.

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