Like many people who work from home, I've developed a charming little habit of talking to myself. It started with a casual, "Ugh, who posted that GIF in the first place?" and has quickly spiraled into a Smeagol/Gollum psychosis where I actively and openly debate with myself back and forth about whether it is or is not a good time to take a break for lunch. (Yes, I'm clearly the kind of person who lives on the edge.) See, as awesome as working from home is, it's the first time in my life I've worked a job where I haven't used my fellow co-workers as a sounding board for the random thoughts that are now leaking out of me at their own will.
Anyone who has ever freelanced or worked from home has experienced some of the relief of not seeing the same people every day. Co-workers can be super competitive, and can even cause you secondhand stress. But at the same time, there is some undeniable co-worker nostalgia that occurs when you strike out on your own. You make some of your best friends on the job, which makes sense; if you're interested in the same kind of work you might already have a lot in common. But those of us who work from home resort to absorbing the friendship of other telecommuters via the internet, while knowing that there are some undeniable best and worst parts of not actually having real co-workers:
Best: Your Food Never Gets Mysteriously Stolen From The Fridge
My food looks so much prettier without passive-aggressive post-it notes that say things like, "Please whoever ate my last yogurt have some mercy on my dairy-loving soul. P.S., WHY??!"
Worst: You Also Can't Scrounge Off Somebody Else's Lunch
Everybody knows the calories of things that your co-workers offer to share at lunch totally don't count, especially if they come from a giant bag of chips from Chipotle.
Best: Nobody Judges The Things On Your Computer Screen
Now I can leave all my tabs up during the day without the mortal fear that someone is going to pop up behind my shoulder at any given moment and reveal my double-life writing Spider-Man fanfiction! Wait. Whoops.
Worst: Nobody Laughs At Your Jokes
And yet that hasn't yet stopped me from cracking them. I'm funny, dammit.
Best: You Always Pick The Pandora Station
MAKIN' MY WAY DOWNTOWN, WALKIN' FAST, FACES PASS AND I'M HOMEBOUND.
Worst: 5 O'Clock Is Significantly Less Exciting
There's no feeling in the world I can compare to that rush of everybody simultaneously busting out of their chairs and speed-walking to the elevator at the end of the day. Now when Quittin' Time comes, I'm usually sitting on the couch, which is comfy, but somehow much less prolific.
Best: No Cubicle FOMO
Don't lie. You've secretly sized up every cubicle in the office – you know who has quickest access to the coffee machine, who has a window view, who has been unjustly slighted and put next to the printer (aka, you). When you work from home, you always have the best seat in the house.
Worst: No Random Birthday Celebrations
It used to be that I'd make some grand declaration not to eat any junk food and then take it as a sign that the universe didn't want me to whenever it was someone's birthday and there was cake in the break room. Now when I inevitably break down at 3PM with half a Ring Ding in my mouth and the other half poised in mid-air waiting for more room before I shove it in, I have nobody to blame but myself.
Best: There's No Office Gossip
Now you don't have to worry about any of the he-said, she-said getting thrown around the office.
Worst: There's No Office Gossip
What am I supposed to do with myself all day if I can't talk about people I know behind their backs?! I mean. Besides work, that is.
Best: You Can Pick A Wedgie Whenever You Want
In fact, now that I'm thinking about it...
Worst: You Have Nowhere To Show Off Your Clothes
I know I'm not the only telecommuter who makes a big show of getting up early and making myself presentable for the sake of productivity, but then after a long day of working I look in the mirror and heave a tiny sigh knowing that I am the only one who gets to admire just how slammin' I look in these jeans.
Best: You can make that really weird face you make when you’re concentrating
Or do what I do, which is gnaw on my shirt collars and sleeves. Like an adult.
Worst: You Forget How To Speak To Actual Humans
People who interact with you in the real world don't give you the time to type a response at your leisure. You have to respond in REAL time, RIGHT now, and that's just way too much pressure after many hours of silence and slow writing.
Best: You always get to cut the line for the coffee machine
I mean, there is no line, but it still feels pretty damn good.
Worst: There is nobody to inflict your baking creations on
For some reason, I get really ambitious on Sundays and bake enough to feed an army. And now that I can't dump it in the break room on Mondays, it has officially started feeding an army of me.
Best: No Pants
I still wear them, but there is an indescribable freedom in knowing that I don't have to.
Images: NBC; Giphy(17)