I started a new full-time job at Montclair State University on July 1st. I had been a part-time adjunct and rest-of-the-time freelance web developer up until that point – now I’m full-time Department Administrator and rest-of-the-little-time freelance web developer. Full-time work is an adjustment for the freelancer, and I was initially afraid that accepting this job would be seen as a sign of failure. I mean, you hear about people leaving full-time work to work from home and everyone is always congratulating them (except worried or skeptical parents); it’s rarely the other way around.
Failure in others’ eyes or not, I needed a change this year – and a big one. I’ve grown disenchanted with building websites, mostly thanks to stupid buzzwords, phrases, and requests like “make it more Web 2.0,” “we need more SEO juice,” and dealing with malware infection after endless malware infection. The work that I thought I loved was really keeping me from doing what I truly loved: learning and building cool things. Google+ buttons are not cool. Upgrading OpenX after a malicious iframe injection is not cool. Playing around with ExpressionEngine for the first time, and making 8-bit art, however, is extremely cool.
Now that I have this job, I have more opportunities to work on cool things on my time, time that I spent doing the 24/7 freelance bit. Granted, I have less freedoms working out of home than I did while working at home, but these adjustments are well worth the change of pace that I so desperately needed at this point in my life. Here are some of those adjustments and some useful tips to making the change:
One thing about working from home is that you have a little more control over when you can wake up in the morning. When I was teaching, it was normally a 7am class, so I was up at 5am two days a week. The rest of the week, though, there was no way I was subjecting myself to anything earlier than 9am. This weird sleep schedule wore me down, especially since I can never bring myself to go to sleep before midnight.
With a full-time job, now, I wake up regularly at around 6:45am. The sun is already up (unlike at 5am), and Jimmy is normally up by then. Since I get up regularly during the weekdays, I find myself slowly adjusting to getting up earlier on weekends without an alarm. I feel more refreshed and better about myself, now.
When you work at home and things are slow or stressful (things are only slow or stressful, so I really mean “all the time), you’re more likely to eat everything in sight. When you don’t see food, you spend precious time searching for food, or making the 5 minute walk down to Whole Foods for a snack and a sippy. Add that to sitting around all day, well, you’re not going to get any sexier, boys and girls!
When you work out in the “real world,” which is how most people refer to outside the home-office in my life, there isn’t much food to scavenge for. Our campus has a few spots to grab something to eat, but it’s so goddamn expensive that I bring in lunch everyday. Because I can’t just eat whenever, I make it a point to eat breakfast every morning (not an easy task for me). So now I’m eating the most important meal and eating a healthy lunch. Go me.
If you go from home to full-time elsewhere, get a travel toothbrush and floss. Trust me.
When working at home, social interaction meant cursing off and chasing my cat off the laptop when I came back from one of those food scavenger hunts. One of the best things about my job, in my opinion, is working with a group of really smart and interesting people in my department, and meeting new students every day. Those who know me personally know that I thrive on great conversation, and I was just not getting that with the cat.
Some of my work-at-home pals enjoy wearing their pajamas all day. I was more into getting dressed so that I didn’t feel like a total slob all day, though. It all goes back to that mantra, “dress for the job you want, not necessarily the job you have” or something along those lines. As much as I would love to be a pajama model, I felt more comfortable during phone and Skype meetings while wearing real clothes.
Of course, when you work in an office, your attire has to somehow fit in with the workplace. Luckily, the common attire here is not too far from what I’m used to, as I have taught here for a few years already. I just have to make sure that I do my laundry regularly, as old Sonic Youth t-shirts and ripped denim are not an option ’round these parts.
In Conclusion (how 8th grade standardized essay of me…)
I love this job, and the pros to me being here greatly outweigh the cons. Most of the things I loved about working from home were actually making me bored and lazy after a while, and ultimately lead to me trying to find something different. Going from home-office to work-office dramatically changes how you do normal everyday things, and usually for the better.