[Ed: it’s Shonali’s, er, my, birthday today! In the spirit of this post, she’s, er, I’m, taking the day off. But she, er, I, will be making up for it later, as you’ll see is wont to happen when you read Karelyn’s terrific guest post.]
When I tell people I work from home, I’m often met with an envious stare and the inevitable question, “How do I get started?”
Image: fogcat5 via Flickr, CC 2.0
The idea of not having to squeeze into uncomfortable shoes or sit in traffic has an instant allure to virtually anyone who has held a traditional 9-5. It seems like perfection, a dream come true, a breath of fresh air, and a life saver!
But the immediate appeal is shattered by reality.
Yes, working from home means you may get to forfeit your slacks and styling gel. But at the end of the day it’s still work. It’s still a J-O-B with its own set of trials, tribulations, and days when you wish that you could just cover your head with your pillow and “call in.”
I have referred a few friends to oDesk since I started this virtual adventure roughly two years ago, and almost all of them have told me that working from home is not for them!
Here are some common misconceptions associated with working from home, and the truths that paint a more realistic picture of what it is like.
You get paid for lounging around all day.
A lot of people have an unrealistic expectation of working from home. Their imaginations go wild with fantasies of getting paid to sleep, watch TV, and eat cereal in their PJ’s.
The truth is some days I work the morning, some days the evening, and sometimes the weekend, even Sunday if need be. I don’t get a set schedule every week, and I definitely don’t work 8am-5pm with an hour lunch like I did back in my office days.
With freedom comes responsibility. You are 100% accountable for time management. There isn’t anyone there to micromanage you or tell you when you should do something.
Being on the computer all day is fun, not work!
Believe me, I used to be that person. Now, I relish the moment that I can turn off my computer. Staying competitive as a telecommuter takes a lot of time. Personal time spent researching, learning new skills, and keeping your social media profiles up to date.
This is time that you have to invest yourself and that you don’t get paid for per se. The payoff comes in gaining new clients and more work.
Your computer becomes your livelihood. If it breaks or gets stolen that means down time, unpaid down time. I’ve had it happen, even with a backup. This means that you constantly need to be mindful of what you download or install onto your computer and what websites you visit. Also, you have to be mindful of your online behavior.
People who work from home make more than office workers.
You may make less per hour than at a traditional 9-5. You don’t have a guaranteed salary and get paid exactly for what you work. Also, sick days and vacation generally are unpaid.
Financial responsibility for work-related necessities generally fall on you. There are no monthly Office Depot deliveries (unless you’re paying) or automatic upgrades to your workstation.
You can’t get something for nothing.
That’s the bad news in a nutshell.
Now, in my case, telecommuting has been worth the trade-offs. Back in my office days, I constantly had to take time off due to family obligations such as doctor appointments, parent/teacher conferences, etc.
Since I started this journey, my productivity has increased enormously. I am now able to schedule my work and appointments in a way that allows me to have the best of both worlds. I may make less per hour, but when I broke down my expenses working outside of the home it evened out. In the old days, I worked three eight hour days just to pay for childcare and gas!
In today’s plugged-in society, telecommuting is becoming the norm for many people, with some companies comprised completely of remote workers. But that doesn’t mean that everyone is cut out for it. It takes discipline, motivation, and realistic expectations to succeed.
What is your take on telecommuting? What are some common misconceptions about remote workers that you have observed? Please share in the comments below!
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Shonali Yes, ma’am!! LOL. ;)
Well, I think we have effectively established that you are a very hard worker, so if anyone ever asks you “what” exactly you do, you tell ’em to talk to me…!
RobBiesenbach Very belated thanks – I had a blast!
You are so right. I even get the feeling that us, remote workers work harder than those in-house employees. I have also started my online career freelancing at oDesk, it was fun for awhile but then it gets really boring and challenging. Boring because unlike working in an office, you don’t really get to socialize with your colleagues. Challenging because with all the distractions at home and in front of the computer, it’s very difficult to get your ass to work.
Now, I’m a full time telecommuter. Don’t get me wrong, I still find myself facing the same problems, however I now get the hang of it. I think you just have to master managing your time the right way and also in my case, I use the help of a time tracking tool ( http://www.timedoctor.com/ ).
profkrg Thank you for sharing my post! CC: shonali
shonali karelyneve I knew what you meant :)
mmangen I mean, thank you for sharing karelyneve post!
mmangen Thank you for sharing my post! CC: shonali
Howie Goldfarb Thanks for sharing. I’m too a tad bit of a slob, but I do 100% of the cooking, kid rearing, and cleaning despite working from home, so I think I’ve earned it. There are days I long for daycare. Then I remember the $125 to $150 tuition per kid per week and the many closings for holidays and reality brings me back. Congrats to you on the new addition! Thanks for reading my article.
TheJackB Frank_Strong Thanks for sharing my post! CC: shonali
I needed to add a caveat my wife is a slob and I do 95% of the cooking and cleaning. When I started dating her, her beauty over came the state of her place when I would come to visit. The type who when they finish a drink or food leaves the plate or container in that spot for days. We are discussing domestic discipline as maybe the solution 8)
Love the post @karelyneveand this seems to be quite a topic because of varied experiences. I know ginidietrichloves the virtual office. From 2002-2007 I worked from home a bike ride from the beach in Los Angeles. This was before Facebook and Skype so client meetings were on conference call. I used to have people joke about me working from the beach. I would say know, my sunny porch and yes I have flip flops on. And I was reliable so everyone was ok with it (plus my employer was in NY) But I hated always having my work in my small apt. It was sometimes oppressive feeling.But I got SO MUCH MORE DONE!
Fast forward to today. I have a home office (a bigger place as of Nov) a 2.5 yr old and a wife who works part time afternoon-early evening and I get so little done. I rarely can find 8 hrs in a day. Those are treats. All because the wife and kid always need me. Now we have a baby due in 2 weeks it will get worse.
I NEED AN OFFICE OFF SITE! lol and the kid in day care.
howiegoldfarb Thanks for sharing my post! CC: shonali
karelyneve You’re welcome, Karelyn! MeghanMBiro shonali
MeghanMBiro arkarthick Thank you for sharing my post! CC: shonali
kmueller62 Thank you for sharing my post! CC:shonali
ShellyKramer Thank you for sharing my post! CC: shonali
RobBiesenbach shonali I am often blown away by how many people don’t understand that working from home is just as time consuming, if not sometimes more so, as a regular job. It’s nice to see people relate to the struggle us telecommuters face. Thank you for reading my post. Have a great day!
commammo I too have felt the isolation you referred to. I’m glad that you could relate and thank you very much for reading my post. Perhaps one day, I will get to a point where I too can share some office space with like minded people. That sounds like a little slice of heaven to me ;) Have a wonderful day!
karelyneve shonali you are most welcome
@karelyneveThat’s the truth. After nearly 5 years working out of a home office, I was missing the structure of an office, and, frankly, other people. Though I often am on client sites, working at home was growing isolating — and the temptation to expand the work day (even if only to blog) was turning me into a bit of a dull boy. Now I share office space with another firm (with which I team on two clients), and efficiency and effectiveness is up. And, a very happy birthday to you, @shonali!
People who don’t get the concept that working from home involves actual “working,” sometimes are surprised when I say I get up at 6:30 am (which isn’t actually that early for a lot of people). They say, “WHY???” Um, to work. To meet my deadlines. To get ready for client meetings and calls and all the rest. Just like office people.
Nice job @karelyneve, and Happy Birthday, shonali!
wickedjava Thank you for sharing! CC: shonali