Cover Image by Jenny Mae Wong
2020, if nothing else, taught us more about what’s important for us, and what we want our lives to look like.
Most of us have had a taste of being a homebody, whether we wanted to or not. We’ve had a taste of working from home, and we’ve had lots of time to reflect.
Some of us surely missed the camaraderie and stimulation of being in the same physical space as our coworkers and collaborators – it can be energizing and inspiring to interact in this way. This may even cover the majority, as some articles are suggesting that “The evidence is in: working from home is a failed experiment”.
Some however have had a revelation – that we don’t need to be waking up an hour or more earlier every day, braving rush hour traffic, conforming to dress and grooming codes instituted by a hierarchy that is by definition undemocratic and does not prioritize our needs.
Perhaps some of us have been given a chance to remain working for the same company under more flexible conditions. Others among us may have considered going it alone, stepping out into a brave new frontier, carving out a living as a solopreneur, online consultant, teacher, creator, coder, artist, designer - the list of occupations that can earn one a living wage from home are ever growing, and for all that 2020 did to us that was bad, one positive may have been that it proved to be a tipping point for the way people work, and we may never go back.
How do you know if becoming a “professional homebody” is right for you? I’ve been thinking a lot about that, and I’ve come up with a few questions you might want to ask yourself, and things to consider, before deciding what workstyle, and lifestyle, best suits you.
- Does social interaction energize you or drain your life force?
True introverts will know exactly what I mean when I talk about the heavy tax on our psyche that social engagement entails. The anxiety of anticipation, the exertion required during the encounter in order to stay focused, smiling, and seeming at ease when we are anything but, and the post analysis of the meetings, which invariably involves some degree of self-flagellation.
For these people, working from home is a liberating thing, and the lifting of social anxiety allows greater creativity and productivity.
The other half, on the other hand, finds just about the opposite experience – they need face to face contact, as they are energized and inspired by being together with others in the same space. Without it, they languish, becoming de-motivated or even depressed in the absence of direct social stimulation.
- Do you have a present opportunity to monetize your work from home, or a clear roadmap to doing so?
Some people may have convinced themselves that working from home or some other non-mandated location is their ticket to happiness. The problem is, not every company is willing to grant employees long term work from home status; some jobs, like warehouse workers, just aren’t amenable to it. If you haven’t figured out how you are going to replace their job income by working at home, that step must come before any serious consideration of quitting your job.
However, there are more opportunities than ever before for those with good writing or design skills, people with a creative flair who can communicate useful information consistently and provide value in the information economy.
It’s important to know how your bills are going to get paid in advance of making any commitments to a new location-independent lifestyle.
- Are you disciplined enough to structure your workday effectively?
Many among us think we know what we want, but are not willing to admit our own limitations. Your own character may get in the way of your success as a stay-at-home freelancer, entrepreneur or creator if you lack the discipline to sit yourself down each day and get stuff done.
- Do you have a suitable work environment set up that allows you to work without interruption or distraction?
For some, working from home just won’t … work, because there are too many distractions, too much clutter or just not an optimal space for getting tasks done efficiently. In that case, will your local coffee shop fit the bill? Working in a public space is actually better for some than being alone at home. Check out your environment, and assess its suitability as a productive workspace.
- Do you have the resources you need to get your work done the right way?
In our eagerness to fly the coop and chart a new, independent path for ourselves by earning a living from home, we might neglect to consider some of the resources provided by our workplace that we didn’t know we relied on. Water cooler, free air conditioning, photocopier, water cooler, ergonomic office chairs are all things we may miss - we need to make sure we have in place all of the tools and accessories (and this includes computer equipment and software) that we’ll need in order to succeed.
Hopefully many people will be able to leverage some of the negatives that came with covid into some positive opportunities regarding career and lifestyle design. Take some time to consider the questions above, then dig a little deeper if you think this homebody life might be right for you!