In the wake of Superstorm Sandy last week, with massive power outages and wide-spread transportation problems, thousands of east coasters found themselves trading in the board room for the living room -- that's right, working from home.
We at HuffPost Healthy Living compiled a list of some of the great perks that come along with working from home (hello, pajama shift!), but others were less impressed. The AP reported:
Michael Lamp, a social and digital media strategist who has been working out of his one-bedroom apartment in the Brooklyn borough of New York City because his office in the Manhattan borough is closed, sums it up on his Twitter page: "I'm getting sicker of it with every hour that passes. I might be slowly losing it."
Lamp, who converted his coffee table into a desk, says he longs for face-to-face interaction with his colleagues at Hunter Public Relations.
We noticed a similar split reaction among our own ranks -- with the HuffPost offices sans power for most of last week, some editors were loving the solace of an uninterrupted work space, while others were bouncing off the walls, organizing hurricane working parties at coffee shops and generally craving face-to-face interaction.
Now, as many of us prepare to head back to the office this week, we've started looking for the takeaway lessons from those polarized reactions.
"It's an important insight to have awareness about what sorts of work environments make you most happy and most productive," says Steven Meyers, professor of psychology at Roosevelt University in Chicago, Ill. "Some people enjoy or need to work around others because they are extroverted ... Many people find the social interactions at work to be the most rewarding component of their jobs, so being alone at home would be more stressful or much less enjoyable."
For this group, getting back to the grind can become a welcome antidote to the hurricane-imposed isolation. In the meantime, or if these extroverts find themselves isolated again for a long period of time, visiting a coffee shop to be around people (even if they're strangers) or meeting up with colleagues to work somewhere other than the office can be helpful. "If you're the sort of person who feels overwhelmingly isolated when having to work from home, being creative is critical," he says -- find out-of-the-box strategies to get your social fix.
But what about those who reveled in the quiet? This could be a sign of introversion, meaning you're someone who performs best in a less stimulating environment. While open office plans and constant chatter might leave you drained day to day, this time to work from home may have become a welcome respite.
"I can imagine for many introverts it would be like the ultimate free pass to work from home," says Susan Cain, author of QUIET: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can't Stop Talking.
"I started noticing that dichotomy right at the beginning of the hurricane," she says. In fact, even before people realized they'd be hunkering down for several days of working from home, a friend Tweeted about hosting friends for a Sandy party, to pass the storm together: "The last thing I would ever want to do is go to a hurricane party," she jokes. (Instead, Cain says she weathered the storm quietly at home with her family.)
For those who might have been surprised at how much they enjoyed the week away from the office, heading back to work doesn't have to be the end of it. Cain recommends proactively creating breaks to recharge and regain your focus, like taking a walk outside every couple of hours. It might feel like you're playing hooky, but the truth is that you'll return to the job more creative and more energized. "I would suggest putting aside that guilt and doing what you need to do to work well and happily," she says.
Another option? Find quiet spaces to work for part of the day, if that's available in your office, or carve out work from home time if your employer permits it. "Some jobs allow for greater flexibility and this might be an incentive to request that," Meyers says.
Of course, it's also important to remember that, while personality factors like introversion and extroversion certainly play a role, other factors can also affect how well you work from home, including the ability to focus in an un-structured environment, other people who are also around (like, say, a chatty spouse or bored kids) and simply personal preference. "Many people thoroughly enjoy working in their pajamas," Meyers says.