…to work from home?” I get asked this question a lot. I find this intriguing, because it seems that most people I talk to already have some perception of what it’s like to work from home, even if they have never done it. If this is not the question I hear, then I often get told, “Oh, you’re so lucky to work from home.” Well, yes. And… no. Every situation has its upsides and downsides. Here’s my take on it.
There are a lot of good (even great!) things about working from home.
- I don’t have a commute. This makes getting to work on time a cinch. 😉 That said, I don’t work in my PJs all day. I do actually get dressed and pull myself together. I take my job seriously, so for me, that means getting ready, even if it is more casual than most people’s office attire.
- I have flexibility with my schedule (at least in theory). I can sort of choose the hours I work, but honestly, I do have to work my clients’ hours… at least if I want to keep them around, that is.
- I can easily jot down an idea I have at any given time and it will be waiting for me in my office on the next business day. This is really nice, because I can put things away or file them when I need to without having to run back to an office like many people would. I’ve learned to set limits, though. People often write to me late at night or on the weekends, and although I used to answer right away, just to get rid of the message from my inbox (seriously, five messages sitting in my inbox gives me anxiety. I need to deal with things and move on to the next task!), but now I do this less and less. Even though I may read the message, if it’s not pressing and the response can wait, I will hit send on my response during those hours. I may draft my answer right away, but I’ll schedule it to go out the next business day during business hours. Boundaries… they are refreshing.
- I can throw in a load of laundry in the middle of the week while I work if I need to. This really doesn’t happen as much as I’d like it to happen. Maybe once a month? Usually I’m doing laundry on the weekends like most of my friends and colleagues. It is quite the interruption to be going back to the washer and drier every 45 minutes if I’m in the middle of a project. So, most times, the laundry waits.
- I can be available to deal with issues (this goes under both lists, since it can also be a burden). It’s nice to know that I can deal with something that randomly comes up if I have to. I have learned to prioritize these things, too. I won’t jump just because something goes wrong. Once I “triage” the situation, I decide whether or not I need to deal with it during business hours or if it can wait until later.
The not so good
- I probably work too much. I think this is true of most entrepreneurs, and yes, it’s my decision to work for myself. But sheesh. I may work more now than I did when I had two jobs (but probably not as much as when I had three).
- The work is always right there. You can’t really get away from your work when your office is at home. For me, the best solution is to have my own office that can be closed off from the rest of the house if I need it to be. I have great respect for people who have their office right smack in the middle of another room of their home. If they can be productive and still take time away from their business while it’s staring them in the face, more power to them.
- Some people think I don’t work or that I can pretty much do what I want all day and don’t really have a schedule. Say what…?!? It’s true. I used to think I was misinterpreting comments I would receive from friends or acquaintances who know that I work from home. My mom always worked from home, and now I feel like I understand how she felt when people would assume she had all this free time on her hands. Quite the opposite, folks. If you call me in the middle of the day and assume I can take your call because I work from home, think again. If I’m lucky, I’ll have a break in my day from the swamp of e-mails and client projects I’m wading through. I do work normal business hours and even what most jobs call overtime.
- Social interaction is quite limited. I do miss not having colleagues I see daily, but at the same time, I don’t deal with any of the office gossip stuff or the nosy co-worker issues. I have amazing colleagues, but I interact with most of them virtually or over coffee.
- When home calls, you’re the one they call. Any time there is a small (or big) crisis at home–the internet went out, there’s water leaking from the guest bathroom faucet, someone needs to be available for a delivery (ok, that’s not a crisis, but you get my point)–you’re the who is expected to be available. This means that whatever time was spent dealing with said issue is now time you can tack on to the end of your day. There’s no dealing with these issues over lunch. They happen when they happen, and you’re expected to be available to deal.
I. am. my. own. boss. This is probably the best of the best. I didn’t realize how much I liked working only for myself until I made the switch from working for other people. I worked at two other jobs simultaneously for over two years while I got my business off the ground. The day I quit working for others was one of the most exciting (and scariest) days of my life. People who really get it will often say, “Wow. I don’t know if I could work for myself, not knowing how much my business will make from month to month.” or “How do you turn off from your work if you work from home?” I want to hug these people. They get it. They understand that most entrepreneurs who work from home are not on the couch watching episodes of Ellen (but that does sound nice… remind me to set the DVR) and that, as the t-shirt says, “Every day I’m hustlin’.” But, for me, it’s a good hustle. It’s one I’m proud of, as I watch my business grow in terms of sales, new clients and new processes. It’s been exciting for me to take something I started as a side freelance job and turn it into my career. There will always be people who “get it” and those who don’t. It’s not my problem to worry about those who don’t.
I feel lucky to say I love my job, which I understand is not the case for everyone. I feel blessed to say that I have a job when we live in a world where many have lost their jobs due to the economy or other reasons. And I feel good in knowing that what I’ve created is working for me and my clients are happy. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but by gosh, it’s mine. Now, excuse me while I go fill up my cup again. Yep, it’s Saturday, and I’m working. That’s life!