Content Marketing Director
I work from home. People typically react to this news with one (or more) of the following:
- “That’s so cool – I would love that! Where can I get a job like that?”
- “Must be great to work in your pajamas and watch TV all day!”
- “Wow that must be lonely. I’d hate not having anyone to talk to.”
- “Cool. But I could never do it – I don’t have the self-discipline to get things done like that.”
All of these things were obviously said by people who have never telecommuted on a regular basis. So, for those of you who haven’t worked from home, I’d like to clear some things up.
- Perception: We wear pajamas all day.
Reality: Wrong! I have the same morning routine as most people – just without the commute. Even before the advent of video cameras, I got up every day and got dressed just like everyone else in the working world. Did I wear a suit? Heck no! But I was dressed and ready to face the day. These days, our company has video phones for all associates, which of course, makes getting dressed a must if you don’t want HR calling you. And I know what you’re thinking – yes, pants are required as well. It’s not good if you need to get up during a video call and end up showing off your Spiderman undies. For those of you just starting to work from home, make an effort to shower and wear “real” clothes every day. It makes you feel more professional, puts you in the “work” mindset and well…just looks better on video.
2. Perception: We take naps, watch TV, do laundry….(insert other “non-work” related task here) all day.
Reality: The “telecommuters don’t do any work” perception is, in my experience, very far from the truth. We’re home - all the time. That means work is close by - all the time. And believe it or not, it’s really hard to ignore the phone when it rings at 7pm or keep the office door closed at midnight when you can’t sleep. Most telecommuters actually spend more time working than the average “in office” employee. That being said, I’ll admit it. I do indeed do non-work related tasks on occasion – during my lunch break (if I take one).The best advice I ever received about working from home was to have a room dedicated to work, be “at work” when I’m in there and close the door at the end of the day and be “at home.” Having a separate “office” helps keep a sense of separation between work and home and it helps you to focus (e.g. ignore the laundry that needs to be washed, the couch that needs to be napped on and the Netflix that is begging for attention).
3. Perception: It’s lonely.
Reality: Yep. It can be lonely. Just ask my plumber, handyman and UPS driver. I know them all by name. They ask about my son and I ask about their families. I’ve even been invited to Christmas dinner. I actually pity them for having to get the brunt of my pent up socializing. (Although as an introvert, this solitude is easier for me than for the extroverts out there.) Working from home means you HAVE to make an effort to get out of the house regularly. It’s incredibly easy to get stuck in a rut when you work from home. As for my co-workers, it was tough to stay in touch before video phones. Luckily, everyone on our team has them now, so keeping in touch with my teammates is easy and calling them for a catch-up chat occasionally breaks the quiet tedium.
4. Perception: Working at home means you can run errands and have your kids with you whenever you want.
Reality: Wrong, wrong, wrong. Did I mention that this statement is wrong? Telecommuting is about working. That means attending meetings, talking on the phone and doing business! We need to be focused and most of us need to be available to our teams during normal business hours. None of these things can be done while we are at the grocery store or holding a baby. My son is 8 and I rarely have him home with me while I’m working unless there is another adult here to watch him (people tend to get cranky when you put them on hold to fix a snack or hear the latest cartoon story highlights).
If you work from home, please share your struggles, ideas, tips or thoughts on the topic in the comments. I need someone to talk to, and I promise I’m wearing pants!
Content Marketing Director