My New Fear of Working from Home

I have a new fear – I have become afraid of working from home. I’m not talking about a panic type fear this is more of a niggling nag that means I am more likely to choose to go into the office even when I have no need to be there.Tuscany 2009 As I have done today.

As with most fear this new fear of working from home is primarily irrational.

Throughout 2008 and for much of the early part of 2009 I worked from home. This was effective, productive and in many ways less stressful. The facilities are better at home and I get to interact with the family more often. The coffee is certainly better.

So where has this fear come from? There are, as you’d expect, a number of elements.

One of my fears is a distrust of my own self-control. While the working environment at home is much better than it is in the office it is also much more distracting. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never spent days distracted on things that aren’t work, I’m just worried that I will. Everyone who owns a home knows that there are always jobs to be done. It’s an irrational fear because there are just as many distractions in the office, they just look a bit more like work.

The self control fear also works the other way though, I worry about my ability to constrain work. I can be a bit obsessive about things and it’s easier to be sucked into work when you are working from home. It’s more difficult to shut the door and to declare it finished.

Another fear is the fear of missing out. What if I am missing out on something important or exciting? If I am at home am I always going to be second choice. At the crux it’s a lack of confidence in my own abilities and the value that I bring. If I was confident in my own ability I wouldn’t worry about being left on the sidelines. The irrationality of this fear is that the people who I interact with are rarely in the same office as me even when I am in the office myself.Tuscany 2009

Loneliness is another worry. There have certainly days when I have worked from home where I have taken a walk to the shops mainly to speak face-to-face with someone.

The last fear is a bit more of a personal one and probably the most irrational. In my mind I think that I get more headaches when I work from home, and I also think that these headaches turn into migraines more often at home than in the office. It seems like I’m stating the obvious, but I don’t like migraines and the fear of them can linger at the back of my head. Going into the office lessens that fear.

Am I the only one? Is this something that other home workers feel?

Do I need to just “get back on the bike” and push away my irrational fears?

6 thoughts on “My New Fear of Working from Home”

  1. As someone who works from home frequently, I totally understand and empathise with most of your concerns. Another problem I find is the lack of a ‘sounding board’ where you may just want to spend a couple of minutes, talking through some thoughts or ideas to colleagues off the cuff, without having to arrange appointments. It isn’t the same on the phone, video conf etc.
    I also think that your point on missing out extends to missing out on business related information that is often discussed between colleagues in the office, but never formally communicated – a form of business gossip – which can help you early in your thought process.
    On that same point, I wouldn’t worry too much about being sidelined if I was you. Way too much knowledge and ability for that too happen no matter where you work.

  2. You have written many of the things I have thought and experienced. I think that I’ve come through and many of the fears, especially the one about continuing to work when at home – just because it’s there. That I have resolved. I have, and I’m still surprised at it, the same work pattern at home as when in the office – predominately the same start and finish times. The fact that I don’t spend 90+ minutes travelling is 90+ minutes I have gained on my personal life.
    I also find the missing out aspect from the office is both in terms of sheer personal contact and the serendipity of being with other people – especially peers. What I have struggled with is my perceived lack of making progress on things in the office because I seem to spend time talking to people, drinking coffee, and that chatting thing. I console myself by saying that is one of the main reasons for coming to the office and so I shouldn’t feel guilty. See my posting at http://homepage.mac.com/vsmith1/files/fd740e7e9bec647bbf9931c7f677bb7e-34.html

  3. I agree with many of your comments and concerns although I think you have little to worry about. I have to say that I am much more productive when I am at home. Indeed my wife would state that I work longer hours when I am at home, maily because when I am in the office I often have to be back for several of the kids social events, you know how it is. Therefore, my emplyer gets more out of me when I am at home and I don’t mind too much because I am able to see the family more which is a real benefit as far as I am concenred.

    There is the fear of being sidelined as you put it, but to be honest I am busier now than I ever have been and get more requests for my time than I used to. On top of that when I do go in the office, many people I deal with are not often there or work elsewhere in the country or even the world and so I find that I just catch up on office gossip.

    Then there is the environmental bit. I’m not a huge “Tree Hugger” but I like to do my bit, if only for my own pocket. All emplyers are trying to economise at the moment so I don’t see why I shouldn’t do the same. What’s the point of me wasting £50 of petrol per week, sitting in the jams when I don’t really need to?

    I think so long as you can be diciplined about working from home, make sure that other people are aware of the work you do then there’s not much to worry about.

    I’ll get the sack next week just watch!

  4. Being slow to the mark on my response. I was wondering if you still have this fear? I notice the fears raises its head after taking time off work.

    I also find that the few days I work in an office means that I really enjoy working from home. Personally I wouldn’t want to work for an employeer who didn’t allow this degree of flexability.

    1. It’s an interesting point Sam, unfortunately I’m not in a position to know, because I’ve been out a lot recently. I had the same feelings when I returned from the LEF tour.

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