After almost a decade of working nine-to five-office jobs, I got to spend five months this past year working from home. Of course, like almost every office worker, I had lusted over the idea of working out of my house for my entire career: what could be better than staying in your warm, cozy, nice-smelling apartment each day, instead of venturing into a cold, unforgiving office landscape full of flaking drop ceilings, flaky coworkers, and snack machines that said they were out of Oreos when I CAN SEE THE OREOS THEY'RE RIGHT THERE? I imagined that working from home was the greatest thing ever — a combination of winning the lottery, becoming a Real Housewife, and never having to shower. I mean, life without commutes, jammed printers, or bosses looking over your shoulder? What could possibly be better?
But after a few months of making it to 3 p.m. without noticing that I had non-dairy creamer smeared on my chin, just because there was no one around to tell me about it, I began to crave the human interaction and professional structure of office life.
Now that I'm working in an office again, I can say that neither working in an office nor working from home are as unilaterally good or bad as anyone thinks. Working from home isn't all mid-day trips to the gym and watching Felicity on Netflix, any more than working in an office is only about bosses yelling at you and people stealing your yogurt out of the fridge. Both environments have their pluses and minuses, and both will make your life better and drive you nuts at the same time.
So if you're currently weighing whether to stick with office life or start working from home (or if you just want to feel like you're not missing out on anything), check out these 13 everyday work situations, which play out very differently for people who work in office and people who work from home.
1. Your Commute
At The Office: A horrible daily ritual, performed alongside thousands of other people grimly marching forwards towards their destinies and clutching their lunchtime Subway sandwiches in those weird little baggies that look like condoms.
Working From Home: The duration of the walk from your bed to your desk (or possibly, the duration of the arm movements needed to bring your computer into your bed).
2. Your Dress Code
At The Office: Dresses that don't show too much cleavage, sweaters with most of the cat hair picked off, anything you bought at the Ann Taylor Loft when you went to the the outlet mall with your mom this past summer.
Working From Home: Gym shorts that smell faintly like ranch dressing. You convince yourself that you've spilled ranch dressing on them recently, because the alternative is too horrible to contemplate.
3. Making Conversation
At The Office: An activity that utilizes your vocal chords' capabilities in order to ask your coworkers about their kids and whether they are excited for the final season of Mad Men.
Working From Home: Something you used to know how to do, but which now requires hours of warm-up practice in order to even attempt. If you fail to do your hours of small talk warm-up practice before attempting small talk, you will just end up smiling and nodding at your barista over and over when he asks you what kind of milk you want, and then silently wandering out of the coffee shop and into some vacant alley, where you can enter a shame spiral in privacy.
At The Office: Something you do right when you wake up to make yourself look and smell pleasant for the workday ahead.
Working From Home: Something that other people have to do right when they wake up to make themselves look and smell pleasant for the workday ahead.
At The Office: People whom you either could not survive your day without, or loathe and suspect of eating your yogurt out of the fridge just to spite you.
Working From Home: Your coffee mugs and a balled-up sports bra whom you have named "Janine." But Janine's been kind of weird lately, who even knows what her deal is.
6. Your Lunch
At The Office: The highlight of your day!
Working From Home: Something you remember to eat around 4:30 p.m., because you've just been kind of eating sunflower seeds and picking at this block of cheese since 10. Also, HOW IS IT 4:30?
7. Your Coffee
At The Office: Free and terrible!
Working From Home: Good and $4 a cup at the coffee shop where you're working today (as part of your new plan to force yourself to wear pants at least once a week).
8. Your Sleep Patterns
At The Office: Up at 6:30 and in bed at 11 every night, whether I like it or not.
Working From Home: Well, since I already accidentally stayed up until 3 a.m. watching the 1985 Tim Curry movie Clue for some reason, I should probably just start on my work for tomorrow now, then work until 7 a.m., then sleep until 1 p.m., and then I'll just re-set my sleep schedule tomorrow.
9. Your Chances Of Getting Free Food
At The Office: Near constant; until you're refusing free, delicious cupcakes, cookies, and croissants like some kind of witch from a fairy tale.
Working From Home: The only free food you're getting is a sample cup of hummus from the grocery store, or some cinnamon raisin bagels that the guy from the deli was about to throw out.
10. Your Work Drama
At The Office: Dan told Karen that Becky thinks Phil is a loser, but then MIKE overheard! What? I said Mike! He's in a pub trivia league with Phil's cube mate Ryan? Anyway, Phil took Becky's yogurt out of the fridge and ate it as a form of revenge.
Working From Home: You once made it most of the way to the mailbox before realizing that you were wearing a blanket as a shirt, pants, AND a robe. You and Janine had a real laugh about that one.
At The Office: It's kind of weird that we're all sitting in here ... pooping ... in silence ... at the exact same moment, right? Also, who keeps not flushing?
Working From Home: You know who keeps not flushing.
12. Your Ability To Focus
At The Office: Yes, you got distracted this morning by a long debate among your coworkers about who was the worst member of The Babysitter's Club, but if you power through lunch, you should be able to get all your work done in time (also, the answer is clearly MARY ANN, SHE WAS USELESS).
Working From Home: You know, I read that said that contrary to popular belief, working from home boosts your productivity ... WAIT HOW IS IT 4:30??? All I've done today was take a quiz about which picture of Leonardo DiCaprio eating a sandwich I was (turns out I'm the meatball sub from Catch Me If You Can).
13. Your Bed
At The Office: Oh so very far away.
Working From Home: In it right now, suckers.
Images: HBO, Giphy (14)