Summary: I recently had the privilege of interviewing four of my friends about our work from home experiences. Two of my friends are recent remote workers, two are veterans at work from home, and I include my insights from 30+ years working remotely.
We have been friends for the past 15 years. We each come from different industries and occupations. We are all knowledge workers and are involved in sales; doesn’t every job involve sales whether it’s selling physical products or digital products or even just selling others on an idea?
We all live in the same area near Charlotte, North Carolina. And, due to COVID19 and the subsequent lockdown, some of us have had fresh new experiences with working at home. Four out of the five of us prefer working at home, while one of us can’t wait to get back to his normal office routine. Before you read further, can you guess which one of us wants to get back to the office?
Because we’ve known each other for so long, these were our candid responses from our unscripted conversations two weeks ago. These are our real-life stories from working from home…
Newbie: Civil Engineer with 40+ years on the job – Prefers working from the office
- Distractions: “There are too many distractions at home and I like my setup in my office with 2 screens and private office.”
- We need Face to Face Time at the Office: “I have more interactions with the field engineers who come into the office a few days a week – I would miss out on these if I only worked at home. I like to be available to have face to face conversations with my colleagues. The culture where I work prefers to see you in the office because if you aren’t in the office or in the field, its considered that you aren’t working. Unfortunately, the “Trust Factor” from our long time managers is low unless they see you in the office 50-60 hours per week.”
- Daily Commute: “My commute isn’t that far for me, about 40 minutes round trip each day, so I can live with that.”
- WFH Schedule: “My current schedule of working from home started out after the COVID19 outbreak at 3 days home and 2 days at the office. Now I’m 1 day at home and 4 days at the office. I look forward to only working back at the office when the lockdown is over.”
Newbie: Financial Advisor with 10+ years on the job – Prefers working from Home
- Daily Commute: “No Commute is big for me. I normally drive 1 to 1.5 hours per day to get to the office. Some days it takes me 45 minutes to drive 8 miles.” (I noted that he seems visibly happier when we get together since he no longer has to go into the office).
- Face time at the office: “I do miss interacting with people. I miss bumping into people with random interactions in the office. However, I do enjoy having lunch with my wife every day at home.”
- WFH Schedule: “My current schedule of working from home after COVID19 is 5 days per week at home. Prior to COVID19 I was working 5 days in the office. Our company doesn’t want us coming back to the office until January 2021 (and may be extended after that).”
- My Tips: “When the work day is done, it’s done. Close the door to your home office and don’t go back in until the morning and don’t open the door on the weekend. Stretch, move, do chair yoga… Move throughout the day. Keep and/or establish routines. Watch out for overeating since you have easy access to food at home.” (I wholeheartedly agree with his last point. Since COVID19, I have gained 20 pounds – ouch!)
- Other Considerations: “Companies are going to have to do more for WFH employees to help reimburse the expenses of a home office: Internet, Smartphone, Office supplies, etc. and toner cartridges are expensive.”
Veteran: Salesman with 31 years on the job, and 8 years working remote – Prefers working from Home
- WFH Schedule: “I work from home all the time now. Prior to COVID19 I had (2) 1/2 days per month that I went into the office for meetings. Now I actually have more meetings via Zoom calls.”
- Client Meetings: “Before COVID19 I spent 50% of my time with the customer and 50% of my time in the home office. Now it’s 100% of my time in the home office. I use Microsoft teams to share screens. This allows me to educate customers on applications, setting up equipment and giving demonstrations of our products.”
- Other Considerations: “Since I am a commission only salesperson, I don’t have company reimbursed expenses. I also am in more control of my schedule since I operate independently. I do miss going into the office and talking to people I have known for a long time. On the plus side, some people in the office can talk a little bit too much, so I’ve limited those unproductive conversations by using digital tools to have more efficient conversations.”
Veteran: Senior Sales Manager with 30+ years on the job, and 20+ years working remote – Prefers working from Home
- Job Role: “I manage sales teams of 5-12 people. My territory is anywhere from 2 to 4 states. My sales people sell to corporations in the Fortune 500.”
- Benefits of Working at Home: “Efficiency and Flexibility – I work throughout the day and in control of when I complete my tasks whether during normal work hours (8-5) or outside of work hours. Happiness Factor – I’m in control of my schedule and have the freedom to accomplish my goals when I want to accomplish them. No Commute – I would normally have to commute round trip 45 minutes per day if I went into the office. This has been eliminated for me as I work from home. Pre-COVID19 I would travel 2 days per week, and work 3 days at my home office. Since COVID19 I work 100% from my home office.”
- Downsides to Working at Home: “If you’re not careful you can work too much as it is easy to not shut off your work. I have heard from others that they need to be around people at the office for their sense of well-being and effective work interactions — I don’t have that need; the virtual office suits me just fine.”
- My Tips: “Establish boundaries for yourself and don’t take your laptop on vacation; unless there’s a work emergency that would prevent you from going on vacation in case you didn’t bring your laptop. Don’t be a workaholic. Make sure you have the equipment set up for what you need – proper computer equipment, printers, scanner, etc. I did buy my own scanner for my needs. Make sure you have adequate Internet – I have 300MBps internet from my local cable company. Don’t count on your company to equip your office. It’s a privilege to work at home. You should invest your own money to guarantee Work from Home success for yourself.”
Veteran: Learning Consultant, Blogger, Software Developer with 30+ years on the job and 25 years working remote – Prefers working from Home
- Productivity: “Working from Home allows me to take advantage of my most productive times of the day. I am very productive from 3:30 am – 8:00 am. I’m not a Night Owl or Early Bird. I associate with Crepuscular animals like tigers, hyenas, rabbits and skunks that are very active during the pre-dawn hours of the day. From that list of animals, i’d like to be associated with the Tiger! If I was working from the office, I would miss that pre-dawn productivity because I wouldn’t want to wake up the early and work and then be expected to work from 8am-5pm. I would be constantly exhausted and probably falling to sleep in the office which wouldn’t look good either.”
- WFH Schedule: “I only work remotely now as a blogger, content creator and learning consultant. I spent the first 7 years of my career as a software developer working in the office while I went to college. My commute was 1 to 1.5 hours per day, but I only went into the office 3 days per week. When I went full time with my first company, I requested to work from home and my boss accommodated me. This was back in the day with dial-up modems, I started out with a 9600 baud modem, but since our company had a text based application that speed was good enough to be productive. When I started using the Internet for connection to my company in the late 1990’s things changed. Speed improved. Productivity tools were improved. I have never looked back since and have mostly worked remotely except for a few short independent contractor jobs that lasted a few months and required me to go into the office.”
- Commute: “One of the things I have loved about working from home is the amount of hours and frustration I have saved by not having to commute! Think about it. I’ve worked over 30 years from home and haven’t had to drive into the office. I had friends in Southern California who had to drive 2 hours round trip every day to their job. I would say most people on average drive an hour round trip to and from work, 5 days a week, at least 48 weeks per year. Do the math – that’s 7,200 hours of stress free living that I have added to my life and mental health. Not to mention the gas I saved and that certainly has benefited the environment by having my car off the road. Since I haven’t had to drive, I willingly work 1 extra hour per day of my own choosing in gratitude to my employer for letting me work from home.”
- My Tips: “I give a list of 13 tips which include Office setup and Daily Practices in our new course: Work from Home: Remote Work made Simple. It is available now through a fantastic sale from Ultimate Bundles. With this package you get our course PLUS these other great Work at Home resources including: 10 eCourses, 9 eBooks, 4 Printables and Worksbooks, and 4 Templates (valued at $1603.90) for a price of just $47! Click on this link: https://bit.ly/wahbundle or click the image below to learn more and take advantage of this offer.”