What I learned about working from home

Working from home can be incredibly freeing if you otherwise work in an office year-round. But if you have a corporate job, how can you work from home without your boss or coworkers raising questions?

A few years ago, I was working long hours at a corporate job and I had a horribly long commute. At one point, I simply decided to take a day off in the middle of the week.

Instead of commuting twice and being in the office for ten hours, I simply grabbed a book and walked to a coffee shop.

It blew my mind how free I felt.

Here I was, when almost everyone I knew was at work, and I was enjoying a fantastic cup of coffee and a pastry while reading about the history of the Roman Empire. It helped that I was living in San Francisco, so that after reading for a while I could walk through a sunny city with beautiful parks.

Looking back now, this was a key moment. After I sampled this freedom, I knew I couldn’t stay in corporate for long.

I wanted to enjoy this freedom more often. But like most people, I didn’t have that many days off. So instead of taking days off, I started working from home or from a coffee shop now and then.

A day off brought the most freedom, but working from home I still felt so much more free than when I was at the office.

But you can’t just stop showing up at the office and expect everything to be okay. In fact, I quickly learned that there’s one thing you absolutely must do when you’re working from home:

Communicate, communicate, communicate.

When you work remotely, your coworkers and your boss don’t see you. Regardless of your productivity at home or in that coffee shop, some people might assume that when they don’t see you, you’re not working.

To avoid questions about your productivity, try emailing your team in the morning and tell them what you plan to work on. And at the end of the day, send an email with an update on the progress you made. (Or better yet, use a tool like Basecamp and post the updates there.)

Don’t expect people to assume that you’re working productively at home, or that you’re even working at all. Show them.

Even if your day was not very productive, just mention what you did do. It’s a lot better than staying quiet all day.

If you have a corporate job, I want you to be able to experience that same feeling of freedom that I did when I first started working from home. But if you work remotely, do it right by communicating more than you’re used to.

Yours,

— Peter

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