Working remotely can seem like a vacation if you're bound to a cubicle from 9-5, but anyone who works at home regularly can tell you that wearing stained sweatpants and eating handfuls of cereal for lunch isn't nearly as glamorous as it seems. The facts of home-office work are harsh compared to the fiction you dream of as you sit in the break room, dreaming of making your couch your desk. Here are 15 of the most common misconceptions about working at home, as written from a very messy kitchen table.
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Myth: You cook yourself gourmet food for every meal
Truth: Working from home isn't like having a buffet within arms reach, it actually enables the most awful eating habits imaginable. Once a month you might whip up some eggs for breakfast, but the crippling laziness that comes with office lunches extends from the break room into your kitchen, and you're lucky to have sandwich meat on-hand. Better become accustomed to eating Parmigiano-Reggiano as a meal.
Myth: You're always down to take people to the airport
Truth: Contrary to popular belief, remote workers do actually have important things to do and are not available as a car service, unless their employer happens to be Lyft. But that won't stop you from asking. Weekly. An hour before your flight.
Myth: You make your own schedule
Truth: Remote workers might have more liberal use of the snooze button since there's no commute, but unless you're purely freelance there are probably people in a physical office counting on you to be functional the minute they arrive -- often in a different time zone -- and will silently judge you if you log on GChat a minute late.
Myth: You can take naps
Truth: Power napping is a great idea, except that 15 minutes never seems to be enough, and before you know it you're a mid-day narcoleptic. And also unemployed.
Myth: You can clock out at the end of the day
Truth: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Sorry, hang on. HAHAHAHA!
Ok, look. The best thing about an office is that you can leave it. When working at home, there's always the whisper of guilt to wrap up an unfinished project or get a head start on the following day's work. This sounds like overachieving, but in reality it's guilt-based overcompensation for all those “15 minute naps” you don't actually take, or a brief detour into cat pictures that might have set you back.
Myth: You can work from anywhere
Truth: Sure, it's possible to move to Mexico City for a month and eat 24 tacos, but it's easier said than done. Adapting to a different city actually multiplies the normal stresses of remote employment, making it harder to both work and play.
Myth: Your workspace is a clearly defined
Truth: Without the judgmental eyes of khaki-wearing coworkers, a tidy work space quickly becomes a quicksand pit for clutter and a graveyard of coffee cups. Although some folks have a nice desk to contain the mess, the kitchen table always seems to become a magnet for laptops and work-related debris. Good luck having anyone over for dinner.
Myth: You have the posture of a normal human
Truth: It's relaxing to work from your couch, except for the fact that it ties your lumbar system in knots. Add in the fact that there's no one around to force you to sit up straight while at a desk, and soon enough your spine is going to make you an excellent candidate for a new job as a bellringer in a cathedral.
Myth: You go to a hip co-working space
Truth: Most remote workers don't want to pay hundreds of dollars to go to a place full of people who will look down on them for eating Parmesan cheese for lunch.
Myth: You're distracted by all your fun things
Truth: It may seem like remote workers are constantly tempted to power on their Super Nintendo and play a few levels of Yoshi's Island, or organize their records, or just go down an internet rabbit hole, but after you settle into a routine, these distractions totally fade from the realm of possibility.
Myth: It's easy to transition into office life
Truth: Interacting with coworkers is a subtle dance of stop and chats, head nods, and keeping your eyes down as you slip out to lunch by yourself. Entering an open office floor plan after years spent in your underwear is jarring because you haven't a shred of work-appropriate clothing, plus you don't realize that your coworkers are all too busy listening to podcasts to have a conversation.
Myth: You can slack off
Truth: Okay, maybe you can slack off a little bit, but often times employers double down on accountability for remote employees to make sure they're not taking jacuzzi baths during meetings.
Myth: You can easily take care of a child/dog/plant
Truth: The idea that you have the freedom to be responsible for another human is a pretty lie. Even managing the needs of a canine's urinary system can be too much to handle if you're working on a deadline. Don't be seduced by a child or cute animal, settle for a succulent. And even then, expect it to die.
Myth: You don't get lonely
Truth: With such a wonderful sound system and television and sunlit patio, it seems like a home-office worker would be content to exist as a happily entertained island of his or her own. The reality is that spending eight hours without seeing another person takes a serious toll on your emotional well-being and ability to converse with other humans.
Myth: You're always down to hang out
Truth: Just because there isn't a manager over your shoulder doesn't mean that you can have a beer and go skateboarding on a Wednesday afternoon. Maybe a little Yoshi's Island though?
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Dan Gentile is a staff writer at Thrillist. He has worked at home for nearly six years now and has somehow managed to keep a dog alive. But at the expense of many succulents. Follow him to Yoshi's Island at @Dannosphere.