If you have ever worked from home, you must have struggled with working from home guilt. You feel as if you need to justify what you are doing. You are likely to experience working from home guilt if you are at home, likely in your pajamas, on a recliner chair getting things done. Or on your bed or kitchen table clicking away at your laptop, a pang of guilt hits you that you are not doing things right.
There is a lot of stigma surrounding working from home. Employers, friends, and family can make you feel that you are not being productive enough. It is the goal of every self-aware individual to become a productive member of society and the feeling that you are not being productive can get to you.
Working from home guilt is common. In the pandemic, most people have been forced to work from home and this has not been easy. Even literally the whole country is working from home, some guilt comes with it.
Some of us, especially creatives, work from home and have struggled with this guilt for longer.
Should you feel guilty working from home?
No, you shouldn’t, so long as you are getting the work done. Unfortunately, our society has taught us that productivity involves working around the clock and getting exhausted while at it. Society has also taught us that getting up early, suffering through a commute, being in the workplace all day, and suffering a commute on the way home is the “right” way to work.
If you spend more time at home while others are out there working ‘the right way’, you end up being crippled by guilt and feeling that you are not doing things right.
Do you know you are likely to be more productive when you work from home? Think about it, all the time you could have otherwise spent on your commute, chatting with others, getting interrupted could be used to be more productive. What’s more, you get to work when you feel most productive, and I have a feeling this does not happen somewhere between 9-5. Most of us are either productive early in the morning or late in the evening.
Knowing this, you should not feel guilty working from home.
Why do you feel guilty working from home?
You feel guilty because you feel that you are not meeting societal standards. Society wants you to feel that the traditional working method is the right way to work. They want you to feel that by not getting out of your house, dressing up for work, and sitting in an office, you are not doing life the right way.
You feel guilty because others make you feel guilty. When you work from home, your friends and family tend to constantly ask, ‘so what do you do all day?’ this form of judgment is also experienced by stay-at-home mums who are made to feel as if they don’t work at all since they are at home tending the kids.
You feel guilty because working from home allows you some extra time which you can spend doing what you love. Yes, that is true, you are made to feel guilty by not being overworked. We have unfortunately glorified being busy and overworking that we forget to take care of ourselves. When we take a break and throw in some self-care, we are made to feel guilty about it.
How to overcome working from home guilt
Unlearn the belief that the proper way to work involves reporting to an office each day. This is one of the beliefs we need to unlearn to be happier. Unlearn to leave by societal expectations and spend more time learning new things. In this era of technology, you can work from anywhere. You can get work done on a beach in Bali or on a hiking trail in Hawaii. Traditional working methods are not gospel anymore and any work can be done anywhere.
Make the best of your productive hours
You are likely to feel good about yourself if you make good of your productive hours. For example, I am more productive in the morning. If I get up at 5, I will get a lot done in the time that I could have been on my daily commute to work. When you are productive, the guilt lessens. If you are a night owl, make the best of your peak productivity period. Rather than choose to watch Netflix, choose to get productive, and even when not working, throw in some other productive activities such as reading and working out.
Don’t listen to those that make you feel that you are not doing the right thing. If a friend asks what you do all day, try not to let it bug you. they simply do not understand how working from home works and they can make you feel less of a productive human simply because you don’t go to an office daily. Instead, focus on your work and feel great about it.
Create a home ‘office’
This does not have to be a spare room to work in if you don’t have space. You can simply create a workstation at home where you sit in what you consider your ‘office hours’ and get some work done. Creating a workstation helps you develop some form of structure in your day. It helps you feel as if you went to ‘work’ and got things done during some period in your day.
Get out of your pajamas
Working in your pajamas can feel as if you are not taking your work seriously. When you are struggling with working from home guilt, you may need to get up, get out of your PJs and take a shower. You can put in a fresh set of pajamas (who are we kidding, no need to dress up) and get to your work station. This makes you feel as if you have not slacked all day but have got something productive done.