January 28th, 2013

Truths about Working from Home

It’s been eight months of me working from home now, and it’s been great! But it’s also been an adjustment and a learning experience. I have found that many people have misconceptions about what working from home can be like, or what it means. I was inspired by this LandLopers post that I saw retweeted on twitter, and wanted to piggyback off of some of the ideas presented in it.

To tell you a bit about my job, I work for the same company that I worked for back in Indiana, but in a new position. People in my position in other regions may work in an office if there’s one in the area. Our position requires some travel in our territory, so I sometimes travel for meetings. The people I work with most are customers, so every day is different! My job is not freelance or “flexible scheduled,” I work at least 40 hours a week, and have an 8-5 workday schedule daily. This list might be different for people who freelance or have more flexible jobs that are geared towards working from home.

Here are some of the NOT true things that people assume about my working-from-home situation.

You must enjoy not working as much! I actually work a normal 40+ hours/week schedule, just not in a traditional office. My work schedule is the same as if I was working from an office. The expectations are the same too. There is a little more trust involved since my boss/coworkers don’t see my face daily, but I have to be available when the phone rings just like they do. Since my commute is just walking from one side of the house to another, it makes it much easier for me to be accountable and available, too.

You can do whatever you want, whenever you want! Not necessarily. If I have a lunch that goes long, or want to take a doctor’s appointment during the day, I can do that. That was one of the advantages presented by my boss during interviews. I can’t go rogue though- I need to be available, just like an office worker. I don’t have anyone over my shoulder monitoring me- I have to set my own schedule for accomplishing work tasks efficiently. There’s more pressure in that sense, which balances with the bit of flexibility. I love that I can make myself something fresh for lunch, or take out the pugs when they need to go out. And flexibility works both ways- if I am working on something, I don’t shut down at 5pm. I sometimes work late because it’s easy to do so, and I care about our customers. If I can wrap things up at 5 that’s great, but it’s nice that if something is going on I can still work on it without worrying about the pugs at home alone, or a long drive. And when there’s a big issue, I love that I can handle it right away!

Working from home means TV and lounging, right? No lounging here. I have a desk, an office that I can close off from the house, and the whole computer and printer set-up. I do turn on the TV or sometimes music, because having no sound while working for my first week was wayyy too weird. I missed the cubicle noise. But it’s no different than an office really, except the location is in my house and not a corporate building. I field calls, emails, and IM’s all day from work, I just don’t annoy coworkers in person like I used to!

You must look like a total slob all day! Yeah this is actually (mostly) true. The girl who woke up at 5:30 daily back in Indy is now the girl who wakes up at 7:30. And is just as tired. It’s all relative I guess! I told myself I’d put on real clothes and um, SHOWER, every morning, but sleep is just too good when I know I don’t have to see anyone. But, I do have customer meetings a few times a month, and I have to dress professionally. And often have to wake up and leave early, or late at night, and travel long distances. It ends up balancing out.

My work from home uniform. Yoga pants, B’s tee, and pug shadow.

When you have kids, you won’t need to pay for child care! This one makes me laugh hysterically while feeling furious. When people say this, it’s implying that I don’t WORK all day. Being a stay at home mom is a full time job- I know that looking at all my wonderful mom friends, stay at home or not. Working from home provides benefits for child care (not that we need it- NOT expecting) should we need it in the future. We could hire in-home care instead of going to a day care, and if there was an emergency, I’m already at home. Depending on B’s schedule it could save us some $, and it’s definitely easier, but it’s still child care. I have to WORK 40 hours a week, without distraction. Raising a child while simultaneously working a full time job may be possible for some freelance people, but would not be for me. Everyone needs to stop making this assumption!

You can blog all day! Nope, don’t do that either. I only have my work computer in my office, not my personal one. I leave blog reading/writing to off-hours, as I am totally ADD and wouldn’t be able to focus on either! I do sometimes schedule blog posts to go up during the day if I write them ahead and schedule them to post later.

It must be awesome to not work with annoying coworkers / office coffee / people trimming their nails at their desks! Ok, a little. If you have ever trimmed your nails in your cube there is a special corner of hell reserved for you. But at times, I do miss the office. I miss being able to run stuff by coworkers- work related or not. Working alongside others does develop a great sense of camaraderie. It’s nice to have my kitchen pantry at my disposal (no Lean Cuisines! Yay!) but there is an element of the office environment that I miss. However, I have a great team in the state that I love working with! It’s a different dynamic, and while I definitely don’t miss the daily commute to an office, there are benefits to that environment. But I thinkkkk it’s safe to say I prefer working from home! My pugs aren’t as talkative or helpful, but they make pretty good coworkers.

There are some differences between working from home and in an office, and of course pro’s and con’s for both. But really, it’s not much different at the end of the day! Any other truths or misconceptions that you WFH-ers can think of?

11 comments to Truths about Working from Home

  • I love this post and I’ve always kind of wished I had chosen to work in a field where I could work from home – it seems right up my alley. I think I would love it. Unfortunately being a teacher isn’t really something I can do from a home office!

  • There IS a special corner of Hell for all who clip their nails at work. And for those who clang spoons against bowls loudly, warm up fish in the microwave and set the ashtray (that is directly outside our doors) on fire and let it burn while you casually enjoy your coffee in the back where you can’t smell it, letting the rest of us suffer.

    WHAT? I don’t know if I could work from home, I think I’m too spacey to do so, but it would be nice not to have a 40 minute commute every day!

  • Oh my gosh, I LOVE this post! I worked at home for a full year before I had my kid and my mom asked me if I was going to keep my job once she was here. I told her it wouldn’t pay for daycare… she asked why I would need daycare? Um, because working from home isn’t just some picnic!

    I definitely preferred it, even if it was a little lonely. The sleeping in totally makes it worth it :)

  • MK

    The idea of being a WAHM and NOT having childcare is ABSURD. Ace would be mounting my computer by 8am. Glad you are happy in your job though, makes such a difference in life! xoxo

  • Definitely agree with all of this! Working from home is still working, and it annoys me to death when my coworkers sometimes make comments otherwise. I’m pretty sure they’re just jealous though.

    Pretty much the only thing I do differently than you is I need to take a few breaks during the day to check my reader/personal email (like right now). Without the break room or watercooler to go to, I need something to occupy my break time. But I am wearing a T-shirt and jeans, and not heels and a fancy work outfit, so that’s the biggest plus to me, along with the extra sleep and not spending an hour and a half in my car everyday!

  • Layla

    Omg if one more person asks me “can’t you just work from home and save on daycare?” I’ll effing scream. Because that’s how it works, yeah.

  • I’m so glad you wrote this post. I’ve always wished I could WFH but it really wouldn’t be much different!! Although, I wouldn’t have such cute pug coworkers.

  • anna

    You have summed it up perfectly. I too work from home, some days i love it others it drives me mental.

  • Ok, so my current work is not full time (I wish it was), but at points it has been and I totally hear you with these points!!! One of my biggest things that bugs me is that people just assume you can go run an errand mid-day for them or something like that. And then get mad if I say I can’t…because I work at home that must mean I can change my schedule at the drop of a hat…lol.

    What I DO love is that I can schedule appointments and grocery store trips mid-day when it isn’t busy. It cuts down errand running time so so much!

  • They day care thing drives me crazy too. People are ALWAYS saying that when we have kids it will be nice because we won’t have to pay for day care. Ummm, are you stoned? I get paid to WORK from home, not watch some rugrats while signed into work.
    Another thing about working from home is that I don’t tend to take the sick days that I did when I worked in an office. I’m not at risk to infect anyone else so as long as my brain is functioning, I usually work. I don’t think a lot of people realize that point either.

  • I love this post! I don’t work at home but am hoping to in a year or so when/if Ronnie gets an internship that we have to move for. I’m looking forward to being *available* if Violet would need me but there is no way in hell I’d just have her wandering around the house while I’m working, she’d HAVE to be in daycare or like you said, have someone there in the house. People don’t think about these things!

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>