Most of the time, I work from my home office, a little yellow room filled with a cluttered desk and stacks of books and product samples. But this week, I was in New York City, where most of my team is based. I had a series of meetings to attend and people to meet, and most of my usual workload to finish.
It made for a long and hectic day, but what really struck me wasn’t just the 400-plus-mile round-trip commute or the working printers or the free coffee. It wasn’t just the face-to-face conversations with the actual people I work with, to whom I talk at least twice a day, every day, even when I’m in my home office. It wasn’t just the make-up and nail polish I put on or the fact that I was wearing a suit instead of looking like the insomniac workaholic that I am.
The oddest thing was the way that I packed up my computer, gathered up my stuff, and left the office at the end of the day.
When you work from home, even if you’re lucky (and/or smart) enough to have an office with a door that shuts, you never really pack up at the end of the day. You are always working, sometimes because you truly love your job (like I do), but more often than not it’s because work is just always there. You check your email as you’re doing other things or after the kids are in bed. You log in to do one little task, or several, to make the next morning go a little more smoothly.
But then it snowballs. Not only are you on the clock nearly all the time, you feel like you be able to keep on top of everything else, too. At least, I do. I look at the laundry and the clutter and I want to have dinner ready and sooth sick kids and have a spotlessly clean house at all times because, after all, I’m at home all day, right?
Right. And, also, wrong.