Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Working from home - The good, bad and ugly

For several years now I have worked from my home. I ran my own business for years and now I work for a company doing copy writing for their websites. I love my work but there are some real pros and cons when working from home.

Working from home can be a great experience but it takes the right person to be able to do it. The demands of life always seem to interfere. There is always something more important to do then sit down and work. You have to be strong willed and motivated to make yourself sit down and go to work, even with all the distractions going on around you. There are phone calls, people dropping in and house hold chores crying out to be done.

At times, ok most times, a job is work and is boring. Not too many people enjoy working and do it because they have to. Watching TV, reading a book, talking with friends and playing video games are much more fun than working, even when you like what you do. It can be too tempting or easy to not work when you work from home. For some people working outside of their home is the best option otherwise nothing would get done.

When working from home there are good, bad and ugly things to be said about it.

The Good

• I don’t have to travel to and from work.
• I can work around my schedule.
• I can wear what I want.
• If my kids get sick I am already home, I can be with them and then work when they don’t need me.
• I get a good paycheque and I love what I do.
• I can still work even when I am sick.
• I can avoid most office politics. I can also avoid being distracted from work by co-workers, there is no chatting around the water cooler.
• My work space is mine, I don’t have to share and no one cares what it looks like or what I have on my wall.

The Bad

• It is very difficult finding a job that you work from home.
• There is no real socializing with co-workers. You tend to work by yourself. At times it does not feel as if you are part of a group. It is not good for people who love to socialize in the office.
• I have to have a work space. Even if I live in a small place I have to have an area that is just for work.
• I supply my own hardware, desk, chair, computer and everything else I need for my job.
• I am responsible for my computer software, internet and protecting my computer. If something goes wrong with my computer I have to pay to have it fixed or buy a new one.
• I pay for internet, electricity and everything else.
• It can be hard to get started some days. There is always other stuff to do. Some days the couch and TV call my name and I don’t get work done.
• If my kids are home I get nothing done.
• I cannot get away from work. There is no leaving it at the office.
• Problems with communication with boss. It can be harder to get hold of my boss then if I worked in the same office. Sometimes it can be difficult to get clear and precise instructions. It would be easier if I was in the office and could see what my boss wanted.
• I forget to stop working. There is no “end” to my work day. I can work 24/7 if I wanted. That means I sometimes forget to stop and eat lunch. Once I lost track of time and was late picking up my kids from school.
• It is not easy, I have real work to do and no one to help me or do my job if I am sick. It is not a cushy job sitting around my house doing nothing. If I don’t work I don’t get paid.

The Ugly

• I am treated different when working at home then I would be in an office.
• People just don’t respect my job.
• Working from home is viewed as not actually having a job.
• It is too easy for people to forget you are working.

o There just seems to be a lack of respect for my job and my work hours. People are always saying they would love to be able to work from home, but when I say that I do suddenly my job is not as important as theirs. It somehow becomes devalued by the fact that I don’t have to dress up and go into an office every day.

o Many people think that because I work from home it is not a real job and I can stop and do other things whenever they want me to. I get phone calls during my work hours when people just want to chat and then they think I am being rude when I say that I have to get back to work. They would never call me at “work” if I worked in an office. But because I am at home that means I am not working and I should be available to them.

o I was taking to child care subsidy. Because I work from home they were telling me they don’t usually give child care subsidies to people who work from home. After all they can watch their kids because they are home. The fact that they cannot get any work done and they lose their jobs is their problem. It would be a different story if I had to leave my home to work. After arguing with them and pointing out that I have a job, with a paycheque, and scheduled hours they had to agree that I have a job and require child care. It was only because I told them that I do have to drop into the office every once in awhile that they agreed that it was a “job”. There is an office to work in but I don’t always work there so I have a real job. The fact that I don’t have a desk there and only go there for face to face meetings with my boss was not as important as the fact that I had to go into the office at some point.

o Even my husband has said to me, you are going to be at home today so you can get all this stuff done. Then he looks surprised when I say “no, I am working”. He used to think that I should be able to stop and do things with him and would actually get upset that I was blowing him off to “work”. That changed when he had a work from home job for a bit. He suddenly understood that being home does not mean I am not working. I think it would have become a big problem if he had not experienced working from home for himself.

Working from home can be very rewarding, but it is not easy to do. I think that I am very lucky to be able to work from home. But that does not make it any easier to actually work from home. I have to make myself go to work every day. It is easier to do so when you are expected to show up someplace and do a job. I don’t have my boss breathing down my neck checking up on me but I still have to get the work done. I am 100% responsible for what I do and do not do.

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