8 reasons why you might be unhappy working from home

Alina Vandenberghe
May 13, 2022
min to read

It was a Monday morning, and I had a pit in my stomach. I had to go to work - in an office- but couldn’t get myself to do it without feeling a lot of pain in my body

8 reasons why you might be unhappy working from home

Alina Vandenberghe
May 13, 2022
min to read

It was a Monday morning, and I had a pit in my stomach. I had to go to work - in an office- but couldn’t get myself to do it without feeling a lot of pain in my body

I was finding myself dreading it beyond repair

The fluorescent light and the smell from the white paint on the wall were keeping me trapped working in a place I didn't want to be. I wanted to be “office-free.”

Working for big corporate america meant I had no ability to travel to beautiful places whenever I wanted. To spark my creativity outside of stern walls. That, in addition to my high tolerance for risk, made me want to start my own business on my own terms

In 2016 when we started Chili Piper we decided, tobe an all-remote company. No more fluorescent lighting. Investors didn’t like our idea at all in pre covid times. They thought we could never make it work. But in my mind, I had no choice to make

#1 because I genuinely love exploring the beauties of the world, and #2, we could not afford to hire anyone in New York when we started with nothing but our savings. As we took this decision to create an all-remote company, we uncovered something unexpected…  

Autonomy to set up your working hours and office space are not sufficient to be happy at work

Mastery and purpose are some of the other ingredients but not the only ones either. Many other things have to align

Here are the other reasons I had found that contribute to being despirited at work

1. Misalignment between your skillset and your work

If you work hard on a job you don’t like, it's called stress. If you work hard in a job you like, it's called passion. Hence this principle is at the core of all my interviews

I want to make sure we can offer everyone a job they will truly enjoy. If there’s a discrepancy between what brings them joy and what is required in the role, we often try to bend the role

Yep, you heard that right

There’s no point in spending half of one’s awake time in a role that is not aligned with your passion

2. No in-person community

While a remote role sounds nice in theory, we’re social animals in practice. We crave connection

Make sure to find your tribe in your community. Whether it’s a yoga tribe, a professional tribe, a kitchen, or a garden to volunteer with minded individuals. Block your calendar and see people that you enjoy spending time with

We encourage everyone to rent an office close by (and pay for it) because we think isolation is NOT a good idea. And in a physical office, you might find other people you might find you want to grab a drink with after work  

In addition, we encourage (and pay for) meetings with co-workers who are far away. What better reason would you have to visit Barcelona than to see Serban? Or to go to Morocco to see Amine? Especially when your company pays for Airbnb and fancy dinners

3. Lacking a separate working spot

If you don’t find an office to rent close to your home - separate your desk clearly at home. Make sure you “commute to it,”... even if that means just going around the block to get back to where you started

You want to avoid feeling that work and home are the same places. Because your mind is confused and will not understand when you want it to scroll social media vs. level up in your work

Personally, I struggled a lot when I was working from my apartment. I had a very unhealthy relationship with my fridge, so for me, it’s highly necessary to get as far away from it as possible

Now that I’m in a proper office, I only eat once a day, which saves me a lot of time (and helps me repair my cells, hello autophagy). There you have it - now you have my secret. Now you know why I still look like I’m half my age…

Just kidding, I am truly still young … inside

It was a Monday morning, and I had a pit in my stomach. I had to go to work - in an office- but couldn’t get myself to do it without feeling a lot of pain in my body. I was finding myself dreading it beyond repair

4. No clear path for growth

We get satisfaction when we see ourselves leveling up. Whether that’s leveling up in a new skill, a new result, or even exposure to a new life experience that highlights our best parts

It’s very important for us at Chili Piper that everyone creates what we call a “Piper Plan” that allows for all your hopes and dreams to come to reality. While we will not be able to find you a prince on a white horse, we make sure you are paired with a mythical creature that helps you find growth at work

For some, growth comes from a step up in their career track to becoming a manager. Others want to level up as individual contributors. Our Piper Plans serve as a public and transparent guide for those individuals, laying out the skills required to excel at their jobs — with examples of how those skills will be assessed when the time comes for promotion

Everyone has access to our Piper Plan framework. We've made it public even for folks outside our company

Some might want to take a different path altogether. For those cases, we encourage exposure to other departments and experimentation with smaller projects in that area to test whether it’s indeed meant for them

If that personal growth happens to be outside our company, we strive to help our team members find happiness outside as well

There’s no point in trying to achieve any retention goals just for retention’s sake — why keep someone hostage when they’re is not reaching their potential within your company’s current trajectory?

I've seen Pipers (as we affectionately call them) return for a second time to Chili Piper after they find that we finally have the role they dreamed of having

5. Not prioritizing mental health

I was depressed for 3 years a while back, and know first-hand how hard it can be. Nothing seems worth doing, and everything is hard

Thankfully drugs helped me greatly throughout this period, but the zombie-like feeling that came with it was not something I wanted to keep

Three things got me out of it: nutrition, physical activity, and books

The part that was most important for me was nutrition. You’d probably be very surprised at my meals

But it's pretty easy to understand: 95% of my meals are made out of raw vegetables. The quality of our soil is no longer the same as it was 50 years ago, so we need to eat a lot more vegetables to get the same nutritional values in our bodies

People watch in terror as I gobble away at 3 salads for lunch. I still don’t enjoy chewing kale (maybe I never will), but I do it because it makes a huge difference in my mood, and I look at it as a health policy

I have found that this way of eating works for me but may not be for everyone, I would recommend meeting with your doctor or nutritionist to see what would work for you

The physical aspect is not a surprise to anyone. The essential key in this equation is blocking time in the calendar to do it. Taking zoom calls while walking is very, very important as well - without at least 30 - 60 minutes of walking daily, your mind takes a toll

Strenuous exercise reminds your mind you are alive. The more you avoid feeling stretched physically, the more your mind will think you are hibernating

If I hit any roadblocks, my first reaction is to find solutions in books. If someone’s hit the same roadblock before and was kind enough to write a book about what they did - I take that gift and am grateful for it. Many books have contributed to my understanding of depression, anxiety, and many other mental health issues and helped me take control of my wellbeing

While, as a company, it’s very hard to help in this area, I am very cognizant of this health problem and am very respectful of people needing the time and space to learn to tame the monsters we might all be dealing with at times

6. Misalignment between your company mission and your personal beliefs

If you care about climate change and work for an oil company, you might have a lot of stress coming from the misalignment of your values

While not every company in the world is set up to cure cancer or stop a war, you can still find alignment in the company mission based on the values the company exhibits, not through posters or motivational quotes on their about us page. But through the actions they take

Find out from current employees what actions the company takes to live up to its values

For instance, two very important things to me are fun and help

I think I would definitely regret living a boring life. So we constantly infuse our work with things that are probably unexpected in a work setting. Like sending hot sauce to customers, writing humorous posts, composing songs, and going on adventures that many find unusual for a tech company (like clubbing in Ibiza or burning “Spicy” in the desert)

On the help front, we have started a foundation where we spend time collectively to make sure we promote a tad more kindness in the world

Eventually, we want to exterminate any kind of violence around the world, but we are taking it one step at a time

7. Absence of a good communication channel with your manager

Most of us don’t leave companies, but we do leave bosses

We want our manager to support our needs to do our best work

And we want our boss to coach us to become better versions of ourselves

Paving the way for open dialogue is critical. that’s the main reason we train our employees in having the kind of communication skills that allows them to have crucial conversations about their needs

8. Not allowing yourself to dream big

If your work challenges don't scare you a little, you're pursuing the wrong challenges. Work goals should feel hard to achieve

While sometimes it’s hard to have a midnight stretch for a presentation and some weeks feel like the sky has dropped on you -> those challenging moments are what make us strong humans

A long series of long nights will not be sustainable, but the kind of work that makes you feel a little bit afraid will grow you most. No great achievements have ever been realized without intense work and scary goals

Being comfortable in a role doesn’t allow room for expanding your superpowers

I was finding myself dreading it beyond repair

The fluorescent light and the smell from the white paint on the wall were keeping me trapped working in a place I didn't want to be. I wanted to be “office-free.”

Working for big corporate america meant I had no ability to travel to beautiful places whenever I wanted. To spark my creativity outside of stern walls. That, in addition to my high tolerance for risk, made me want to start my own business on my own terms

In 2016 when we started Chili Piper we decided, tobe an all-remote company. No more fluorescent lighting. Investors didn’t like our idea at all in pre covid times. They thought we could never make it work. But in my mind, I had no choice to make

#1 because I genuinely love exploring the beauties of the world, and #2, we could not afford to hire anyone in New York when we started with nothing but our savings. As we took this decision to create an all-remote company, we uncovered something unexpected…  

Autonomy to set up your working hours and office space are not sufficient to be happy at work

Mastery and purpose are some of the other ingredients but not the only ones either. Many other things have to align

Here are the other reasons I had found that contribute to being despirited at work

1. Misalignment between your skillset and your work

If you work hard on a job you don’t like, it's called stress. If you work hard in a job you like, it's called passion. Hence this principle is at the core of all my interviews

I want to make sure we can offer everyone a job they will truly enjoy. If there’s a discrepancy between what brings them joy and what is required in the role, we often try to bend the role

Yep, you heard that right

There’s no point in spending half of one’s awake time in a role that is not aligned with your passion

2. No in-person community

While a remote role sounds nice in theory, we’re social animals in practice. We crave connection

Make sure to find your tribe in your community. Whether it’s a yoga tribe, a professional tribe, a kitchen, or a garden to volunteer with minded individuals. Block your calendar and see people that you enjoy spending time with

We encourage everyone to rent an office close by (and pay for it) because we think isolation is NOT a good idea. And in a physical office, you might find other people you might find you want to grab a drink with after work  

In addition, we encourage (and pay for) meetings with co-workers who are far away. What better reason would you have to visit Barcelona than to see Serban? Or to go to Morocco to see Amine? Especially when your company pays for Airbnb and fancy dinners

3. Lacking a separate working spot

If you don’t find an office to rent close to your home - separate your desk clearly at home. Make sure you “commute to it,”... even if that means just going around the block to get back to where you started

You want to avoid feeling that work and home are the same places. Because your mind is confused and will not understand when you want it to scroll social media vs. level up in your work

Personally, I struggled a lot when I was working from my apartment. I had a very unhealthy relationship with my fridge, so for me, it’s highly necessary to get as far away from it as possible

Now that I’m in a proper office, I only eat once a day, which saves me a lot of time (and helps me repair my cells, hello autophagy). There you have it - now you have my secret. Now you know why I still look like I’m half my age…

Just kidding, I am truly still young … inside

It was a Monday morning, and I had a pit in my stomach. I had to go to work - in an office- but couldn’t get myself to do it without feeling a lot of pain in my body. I was finding myself dreading it beyond repair

4. No clear path for growth

We get satisfaction when we see ourselves leveling up. Whether that’s leveling up in a new skill, a new result, or even exposure to a new life experience that highlights our best parts

It’s very important for us at Chili Piper that everyone creates what we call a “Piper Plan” that allows for all your hopes and dreams to come to reality. While we will not be able to find you a prince on a white horse, we make sure you are paired with a mythical creature that helps you find growth at work

For some, growth comes from a step up in their career track to becoming a manager. Others want to level up as individual contributors. Our Piper Plans serve as a public and transparent guide for those individuals, laying out the skills required to excel at their jobs — with examples of how those skills will be assessed when the time comes for promotion

Everyone has access to our Piper Plan framework. We've made it public even for folks outside our company

Some might want to take a different path altogether. For those cases, we encourage exposure to other departments and experimentation with smaller projects in that area to test whether it’s indeed meant for them

If that personal growth happens to be outside our company, we strive to help our team members find happiness outside as well

There’s no point in trying to achieve any retention goals just for retention’s sake — why keep someone hostage when they’re is not reaching their potential within your company’s current trajectory?

I've seen Pipers (as we affectionately call them) return for a second time to Chili Piper after they find that we finally have the role they dreamed of having

5. Not prioritizing mental health

I was depressed for 3 years a while back, and know first-hand how hard it can be. Nothing seems worth doing, and everything is hard

Thankfully drugs helped me greatly throughout this period, but the zombie-like feeling that came with it was not something I wanted to keep

Three things got me out of it: nutrition, physical activity, and books

The part that was most important for me was nutrition. You’d probably be very surprised at my meals

But it's pretty easy to understand: 95% of my meals are made out of raw vegetables. The quality of our soil is no longer the same as it was 50 years ago, so we need to eat a lot more vegetables to get the same nutritional values in our bodies

People watch in terror as I gobble away at 3 salads for lunch. I still don’t enjoy chewing kale (maybe I never will), but I do it because it makes a huge difference in my mood, and I look at it as a health policy

I have found that this way of eating works for me but may not be for everyone, I would recommend meeting with your doctor or nutritionist to see what would work for you

The physical aspect is not a surprise to anyone. The essential key in this equation is blocking time in the calendar to do it. Taking zoom calls while walking is very, very important as well - without at least 30 - 60 minutes of walking daily, your mind takes a toll

Strenuous exercise reminds your mind you are alive. The more you avoid feeling stretched physically, the more your mind will think you are hibernating

If I hit any roadblocks, my first reaction is to find solutions in books. If someone’s hit the same roadblock before and was kind enough to write a book about what they did - I take that gift and am grateful for it. Many books have contributed to my understanding of depression, anxiety, and many other mental health issues and helped me take control of my wellbeing

While, as a company, it’s very hard to help in this area, I am very cognizant of this health problem and am very respectful of people needing the time and space to learn to tame the monsters we might all be dealing with at times

6. Misalignment between your company mission and your personal beliefs

If you care about climate change and work for an oil company, you might have a lot of stress coming from the misalignment of your values

While not every company in the world is set up to cure cancer or stop a war, you can still find alignment in the company mission based on the values the company exhibits, not through posters or motivational quotes on their about us page. But through the actions they take

Find out from current employees what actions the company takes to live up to its values

For instance, two very important things to me are fun and help

I think I would definitely regret living a boring life. So we constantly infuse our work with things that are probably unexpected in a work setting. Like sending hot sauce to customers, writing humorous posts, composing songs, and going on adventures that many find unusual for a tech company (like clubbing in Ibiza or burning “Spicy” in the desert)

On the help front, we have started a foundation where we spend time collectively to make sure we promote a tad more kindness in the world

Eventually, we want to exterminate any kind of violence around the world, but we are taking it one step at a time

7. Absence of a good communication channel with your manager

Most of us don’t leave companies, but we do leave bosses

We want our manager to support our needs to do our best work

And we want our boss to coach us to become better versions of ourselves

Paving the way for open dialogue is critical. that’s the main reason we train our employees in having the kind of communication skills that allows them to have crucial conversations about their needs

8. Not allowing yourself to dream big

If your work challenges don't scare you a little, you're pursuing the wrong challenges. Work goals should feel hard to achieve

While sometimes it’s hard to have a midnight stretch for a presentation and some weeks feel like the sky has dropped on you -> those challenging moments are what make us strong humans

A long series of long nights will not be sustainable, but the kind of work that makes you feel a little bit afraid will grow you most. No great achievements have ever been realized without intense work and scary goals

Being comfortable in a role doesn’t allow room for expanding your superpowers

Alina Vandenberghe

Co-Founder & Co-CEO at Chili Piper . Passionate about building fun SaaS to solve hard problems and a company where employees thrive. On our way to IPO  - all while giving back to the community through our CitizensOfOurPlanet foundation

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