Working from home is becoming more and more common. In fact, many new job seekers have come to expect at least some sort of work-from-home policy when considering a new position. Having been on both sides of the fence, I can say there are definitely some benefits and misconceptions. Now, as a full-time work from home employee who happens to be a mom, I’d like to debunk some myths regarding your typical full-time, work-from-home employee.
You still get up early: FACT
Most work-from-home employees still have regular hours. Even though I no longer have a commute, I still need to get up early enough to wake up my brain, get the kids ready and feel as though I’m mentally prepared for another work day before I sit down at my computer around 8am. For me, it’s important to stick with my normal, morning routine. That means that, no, I DO NOT work in my pajamas. Sure, I may be dressed in yoga pants, but I can assure you I did not sleep in them last night.
You get to be home with your kids: FICTION
Anyone with little kids, especially those who are not yet in school, understands how difficult it is to get anything done when someone is thirsty, someone is hungry, so-and-so is hitting so-and-so or little Timmy is putting his toys in the ceiling fan again. When it comes down to it, I know I am much better at my job when I can focus. That means the kids go to daycare or school or wherever, as long as it isn’t in my office.
You never really clock out: FACT
It goes along with the territory. If you get to work from home, that means you are expected to be available after hours for emergencies. It’s one of those trade-offs. I never truly leave the “office”, at least not like I used to. But I understand that expectation and I’m ok with it. I’m not wasting time each day in horrendous Chicago traffic counting down the years to retirement. And if that means I need to put in some additional hours here and there, I’m happy to do it.
You don’t have a real job: FICTION
I cannot tell you how many times my neighbor has invited me over for mimosas on a weekday. Or how many times my Dad has called me just to chat (and by chat, I mean have a 3 hour conversation about his dog) in the middle of the day. I cannot do these things because I have a real job. I still have deadlines, conference calls, and I use words and phrases like “CMYK”, “vector”, “above the fold” and “due by EOD”. Don’t let the lack of commute fool you. Work-from-home employees are real-life productive members of society, it’s just that the majority of our productivity takes place in yoga pants.
You don’t get a whole lot of human interaction: FACT
A lot of creatives are a bit socially awkward by default, but when you work from home, aside from the occasional conference call or instant message, the most human contact you’ve had is with those guys who came to paint your house that one time. And they were not interested in discussing the latest episode of Real Housewives of Atlanta. Podcasts and my dogs are my new best friends.
It’s easier than working in an office: FICTION
Sure, there are some aspects of working from home that are easier than working in an office. For example, less distractions commonly found in offices, like Susan from accounting wanting to gossip about who is going to end up wearing a lampshade on their head at this year’s holiday party. Or that one account manager that’s always waiting for you at your desk, touching your pens and post-its. But working from home takes incredible self-discipline. Sticking to a schedule when you’re the only one responsible for enforcing it means you need to be able to resist temptations, like looking up your ex on Facebook. Adhering to a schedule is key.
Sure, working from home is not as glamorous as some may think, but the pros far outweigh the cons. I get to wake up every morning knowing there’s no traffic to fight, no dress code, no one to snatch the last donut before I can get my hands on it. In the end, working from home benefits everyone: clients, employees and employers. Employees have a better work/life balance, making them happier and more productive. Employers have access to a larger pool of talent when they aren’t restricted to a geographical region. And, ultimately, this increased productivity and larger pool of talent translates into better work and a higher level of service for clients.
Whitney May, Sr. Graphic Designer