“If I told you I’ve worked hard to get where I’m at, I’d be lying, because I have no idea where I am right now.”
― Jarod Kintz, This Book is Not for Sale

Image source: http://thesmarterwallet.com/2008/work-at-home-resources-how-to-start-a-home-business/
Image source: http://thesmarterwallet.com/2008/work-at-home-resources-how-to-start-a-home-business/

Working from home – isn’t that the ultimate dream? When you have an illness like MS, that dream often comes with a hard edge. Not everyone is able to be an entrepreneur, and so working from home can become a challenge.

I consider myself very fortunate that I work for an organization that is open to options like working from home, especially for people with health challenges like mine. That being said, it is not always wine and roses! But it can and does work well, and allows me to retain a standard of quality of life that I treasure.

When my MS took me to a point where I could no longer do my shift-working job, I went to day work. I was lucky – I ended up in my dream job as a “front-lines” severe weather specialist dealing with various clients. Then, when my MS developed more complications, I had to leave my dream job  and began working from home. While I have always managed to find my work interesting – I know that I had to give up a part of me by leaving that dream job behind. There’s one edge.

Working from home is not for everybody. You have to consider your personal work habits and abilities. Some questions you have to consider are:

  • Does your job allow for an option of working from home? What adaptations could be nade to allow it? (For example – if you drive a truck for a living, continuing that from home is not possible. Is there another role you could play?)
  • Does it make sense for you to work from home? Or is your health situation indicating that not working is the best option? (There are a lot of things that need to go into determining that!)
  • Do you like working alone? Or do you need regular face-to-face interaction with people?
  • Are you disciplined enough to work from home? Or do you end up getting distracted from your work by kids, pets, household chores?
  • What are the benefits of working from home for you and for your manager?
  • Do you have the space/ability to work from home? What is needed? What is your company’s policy around that?

These are just a very few of the types of questions you need to ask yourself. Each situation is unique and will need thorough research and investigation for your own personal needs.

You have to be willing to address (or ignore) strange responses – even hostile reaction from colleagues. Since beginning to work from home, I have faced questions and comments such as:

  • “Oh – you are still here! I thought you had died.”
  • “Who are you sleeping with to get such perks like working from home?”
  • “You are so lucky! I wish I had MS too if I could get to work from home!”

Wow, eh? None of it was maliciously intended…but it sure comes across negatively, eh? Another hard edge.

For me, I find it interesting that there have been so many ups and downs over the 3-4 years that I have been working almost full-time from home. I am inherently an extrovert, and I thrive in an environment where I get to interact with people directly, not just over the phone, but face to face. After my seizures began, I worked from home full time (M-F) but I found myself going a bit batty – I need interaction with people. And for professional purposes, it is always helpful for people to actually see you – otherwise you can kinda get “forgotten”. The “Outta sight, outta mind” mentality easily develops in colleagues and managers alike! I now go into the office 1-2 times per week (even though it does fatigue me greatly) in order to maintain strong professional connections and give myself that boost of interacting with people directly. (Hallway chats go a long way to help one feel connected!)

Working on your own can be a challenge for some in terms of getting work done. What I myself find is that I am actually way more productive working from home than at the office. There are fewer distractions for me, and I can focus and complete things more easily. Sometimes, if I have had a really difficult night or day, I can sleep right up to 8AM and start working the moment I wake up. If I am having a symptom flare-up, I can rest or nap, then approach my work again once rested – with a clearer head and much higher productivity: win-win for me and my manager. I have also developed a very open and honest relationship with my managers that allows for this success. (And I even get to wear my jammies all day if I wanted to!!)

Working from home is a not always a choice – but if it is an option for you, it needs significant thought and work ta actually make it successful. It needs honesty, trust, and a willingness on both sides (yours and your managers) to make it a successful arrangement. It takes teamwork.

“Working from home meant we could vary snack and coffee breaks, change our desks or view, goof off, drink on the job, even spend the day in pajamas, and often meet to gossip or share ideas. On the other hand, we bossed ourselves around, set impossible goals, and demanded longer hours than office jobs usually entail. It was the ultimate “flextime,” in that it depended on how flexible we felt each day, given deadlines, distractions, and workaholic crescendos.” ~Diane Ackerman, One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, A Marriage, and the Language of Healing, 2011

Working from home as a health management technique can work well – you just have to find the way that is most beneficial for you.

Namaste.

Carolyne

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