Thursday, February 12, 2015

The (Mostly) Truth about Fun and Working from Home

My life as a full-time freelancer—working from home, no longer in a corporate environment—has been all I hoped it would be: Interesting projects. Hardly any stress. Great flexibility. Autonomy.

You know what I miss, though? 

Workplace fun. Laughter. Sometimes, shenanigans.

Some workdays I am pretty sure members of Congress are having more fun than I am. (Click to Tweet)

Don’t get me wrong. My colleagues (and still friends) and I worked hard and our hard work had its stresses. With the intricacies of the publishing world, laughter can be a bit in short supply on some days. Perhaps especially for me, a firstborn daughter who fully embraced the Importance of Getting Things Done. Too often, I confess, my own demeanor was humorless amid the ups and downs, stretches and pulls—and I should have lightened up more often.

But I had fun too. 

One time I wore a winter red hat (predating those red hat ladies, I think) an entire day after promising to if Creative stopped using small paper clips. They (the clips, not the staff) drove me nuts. They did; I did. And they also delivered a whole chain of the large paper clips I loved to me, which met my needs for years. It was fun. Silly, but fun. I'll save a few other stories for another time. But at one of those another-five-years-of-service ceremonies, one of my bosses—trying, I am sure, to make my managing editor-ness more palatable to those subjected to it—told the whole place that, though they might be surprised to learn it, I could be fun.

Oh how I wished for that red hat to pull over my face then.

But now? Working from home? Pretty much alone, which is a mostly introverted person's dream? A little too-fun-less sometimes.

My husband makes me laugh, but I don’t want to burden him when he's home by opening the door to my office on a fun-lacking day to shout, “Hey! Tell me a joke! Go find some hilarious anecdote! Bring me some sparkly balloons with funny sayings on them, or maybe a T-shirt that says 'I Brake for Adverbs.' But do it now, please. I’m dying for lack of fun in here.” 

So instead, I . . . well, here's what happened. A friend recently said she thinks I have become funnier (specifically on Facebook), perhaps "less inhibited" than I used to be. Or perhaps more desperate for fun, I'd say. Despite her comment, I'm sure sometimes what I think is funny (with my slightly weird sense of humor) falls flatter than the flattest pancake. But when she said that, it took me only about two seconds to realize one reason I put some of what I think is funny out there: I am trying to make my own fun.

For every time I fall flat, I am so sorry. But sometimes, when my head is deep into the zone with the task at hand, I come to and decide that creating a little of my own fun is the thing to do. Yes, I take breaks during my workday. And bless the hearts of my family and friends who are social media–funny. They do help keep me from sinking into humorlessness, especially when the project I’m working on is tough subject matter.

The work of writers such as David Sedaris, Dave Barry, Anne Lamott—even my beloved, late Nora Ephron—pops up on social media and makes me laugh too. (You can discern my favorite brand of humor even in this short list.) Writers like Jen Hatmaker and Jon Acuff spark my days. I follow some witty comedians as well as "average" but hilarious people on Twitter. But I don't know those writers personally. None of them pops into my office for a chuckle or two. 

Most of all I miss those face-to-face, anywhere from a chuckle to a belly laugh causing “Can you believe what just happened?” sharing of stories in the workplace—in the next cubicle, over a cup of afternoon coffee, sometimes in the bathroom (of my own gender, though I remember one time . . .), along with a spontaneous lunch in a corner somewhere, even during a meeting because we all needed a laugh.

Not gossip or mean-spirited tales, but genuinely funny stories that no one is going to laugh over on Facebook. Why not? Because you had to be there. And I’m not. And I won't be.

So sad! Cue those violins! I don't mean to paint a glum picture; there is no despair; I am happy here and with what I do. If I weren't, I'd convince someone, in some workplace, to hire me—as long as they could convince me I'd have some fun there, of course.

But still . . . maybe I should find that red hat. The squirrels outside my window might get a kick out of it.

Do you work alone more than with others? Share how you keep some fun in your workday. If you do, I'll write a post sometime soon with your suggestions and any ideas I have since come across.



  1. My fur-kids add humor to my day. My Charlie cat always seems to know when I've been sitting/focused too long on a project. He pops up on the desk and plants himself between me and my monitor. The humor comes in because he has a tiny weight issue and sometimes doesn't quite make the desktop on the first try. :-) And then there is Daisy, my Corgi/Shelti/??? mix. I'll suddenly notice that she is looking at me with concern and realize that I've been talking out loud to myself. I laugh. She smiles. We head to the kitchen for a doggie treat. And finally, there is Olivia, Charlie's sister. She always arrives at my desk in a quiet, graceful way. She strolls slowly past the monitor, very careful not to touch the keyboard (unlike her bigger brother!). Then she stops just past the screen and allows her full, long-haired tail to drape over most of the screen with an invitation to stroke and adore her. It's amazing how attuned my 3 fur-kids are to me. They always manage to bring me back to earth for a deserved break. They make me smile. I use a office paper box lid with an old towel draped over it for them to lay in. It has the best view for watching squirrels out the office window. I encourage everyone to have at least one "desk" kitty.

    1. Thanks for sharing! Pets are not for me, but I am so glad they make your days brighter!


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