This and That: Oh, Hi. I Work From Home
I wake up each morning with the same delicate intention:
Today, I will brush my teeth before work. I will change out of my pajamas. I will put on real clothes, and by that I mean clean pajamas. And I will sit down at my desk to begin the workday.
I only started adopting this motivational speech in the past month – around the same time I hit the one year mark of working from home full time. When I started working remotely in September 2016, I woke up at the same time as my husband (who goes to an office every day). I washed up, dressed myself in non-pajama clothing and commuted the 15 steps from the bathroom to my desk to begin work. Like a grownup. Who cares about grownup things like personal hygiene.
At some point between day 1 and day 60 I had the most delicious yet destructive thought: I don't really have to do any of that.
As a remote employee, I work 8,000 miles from my company's New York City headquarters. I am the only employee based in Hong Kong. I haven't been to a meeting or in the same physical space as a colleague in 14 months. But I do communicate with a team of coworkers all day via Slack. I just don't know what any of my coworkers look like. And as soon as I realized that they don't know what I look like either, things started to regress quickly on my end.
First, “real clothes” turned into wearing garments that we can classify broadly as “athleisure.” Then came the delay of washing up or brushing my hair until I looked at the clock and realized my husband would be home from the office soon... because it was almost 6:00 in the evening. Around month six I eschewed the notion of a desk and chair by telling myself that I no longer needed such trappings of traditional office culture in my life, thank you very much.
At the nine month mark I thought it would be beneficial for both my personal sense of self worth and for the health of my marriage to adopt a more regular schedule of showering. Naturally I overcompensated and followed up my new morning bathing ritual with a time-consuming Korean skincare regimen. So I'd sit down to work wearing a face mask and a bathrobe. The point at which I – still in said bathrobe and face mask -- started filing my nails while I waited for story edits was the moment I staged an intervention:
Step away from the computer. Put on some clothes. And get out of the house.
Now that I've spent a good year testing out these phases, my week usually starts somewhat buttoned up and deteriorates from there. Of all the ways I thought working from home may be challenging – the social isolation, lack of structure, absence of free snacks – I wasn't so worried about my basic ability to get out of bed and get dressed. But turns out that's been one of the biggest challenges to date. But hey – it beats going to an office, any day.
The illustrations above – by the insanely talented Alex Labriola – were created especially for this story because I am the luckiest. If you don't already follow Alex's adventures on Instagram, you must. And if you haven't checked out my story on her Amsterdam studio as well as her own blog documenting her life, you are missing out on one of the most inspiring creative directors in the business.