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3 Reasons Working From Home May Be Harder Than Working in an Office

By Maurie Backman – Apr 24, 2020 at 8:36AM

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You'd think working from home would be easy, but many remote employees are struggling right now. These could be some of the reasons.

The COVID-19 crisis has spurred a huge shift to remote work over the past month or so. In some regards, working from home is easier than going into an office. When you work remotely, you don't have to commute, you don't have to stress about packing lunch, and you don't have to deal with the social pressures that come with holding down a job, like attending happy hours after work when you'd rather head straight home.

But working from home isn't always easy, especially when you've been flung into that situation without warning. In fact, here are three reasons that you may find that arrangement more difficult than your former in-office setup.

Man at laptop taking notes in notebook


1. Less camaraderie and support

When you work in an office, you're surrounded by people who can help you, commiserate with you, and offer a friendly smile. Working at home, by contrast, can be an extremely isolating experience, and while there's always email and chat apps to help you and your colleagues stay in touch, it's by no means the same thing as walking over to someone's desk for feedback on an ongoing project, or having your team members congratulate you in person on a well-done presentation.

2. Less-structured scheduling

When you work in an office, there are generally specific hours to follow. For example, most people might come in around 9 a.m. and generally file out by 6 p.m. When you work from home, you live where your office is, and so knowing when not to work can be challenging. It's harder to shut down your computer and stop working at 6 p.m. when you don't have a train to catch and you're not seeing people packing up all around you. You may find that that lack of structured scheduling makes it difficult to unplug.

3. More pressure

When you work in an office, you're surrounded by people and side conversations that can easily produce distractions. But when you're doing your job from home, you should, in theory, have the opportunity to plug away without interruption (unless, of course, you're a parent and are presently stuck in a situation where you're attempting to work and also homeschool your children). The result? You may put more pressure on yourself to be productive at home, and your manager may do the same.

But even if you don't have children to care for, working from home is hardly distraction-free. First of all, it's hard to stop checking the news when we're deep in the throes of a pandemic. Secondly, your home is apt to be loaded with distractions like your large-screen TV, comfortable couch that's perfect for napping, or piles of laundry just begging to be done. And while you should, of course, aim to stay focused on your job when you're supposed to be working, you may find that it's more difficult to do so when you're stuck in your home environment.

People who work from home regularly tend to paint a rosy picture of what it looks like, but in reality, it's not always so easy, and it's not right for everyone. If you're having a difficult time doing your job from home, rest assured that you're not alone -- and give yourself credit for powering through and doing your best.

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