Technology has had a huge effect on how we live and work. What used to take a whole day to get a response from a client, boss or co-worker now can be nearly instantaneous via IM, cell phones and email. The rate of how fast we can reply has increased dramatically thanks to these new technologies. Not only that, but these advances have helped the small business/home office worker out tremendously. Now just about anyone can have a web-based business, thanks to open source software, etc. The web has levelled the playing field so that small to medium size companies can compete with large corportations. Not only that, but the web has opened up lots of doors for non-traditional jobs as well. (Did you know that you can make a good living blogging?) Yes, it’s a great time to be alive and livin’ the American dream.
However, since more and more people have switched to working at home, there are still some wrinkles to be ironed out with respect to the general public’s expectations. Self-employed types are sometimes seen as lazy, eccentrics who only work about 3 hours a day and then spend the rest of it playing on sites like Digg. Let’s dispell a few myths right now about being self-employed and working at home.
Myth #1: Self-employed people can be lazy because they don’t have a boss
I work at home, and it never ceases to amaze me that people think I just fiddly-fart around all day mainly because I don’t have a “real boss”. But think of it this way: If I’m doing my job correctly, my “boss” should be the most demanding boss I’ll ever have. He always knows if I’m late or slacking off, and you better believe he can tell when I’m not managing my time well.
Self-employed people have it even harder. Most of the time there’s no company health insurance, no benefits, no retirement plan… you’re scratching a living with a lot more variables that are just taken care of when you work for a company. It’s downright scary if you think about it. You better believe the self-employeed workers are bustin’ their humps to make the bottom line every day.
Myth #2: People who work out of home offices work whenever they want
Unfortunately, becuase the rest of the world runs from about 8am-5pm, we have to work those ours too. Granted, this is becoming more and more flexible with our ever growing dependencies on rad, new technologies like email; but usually talking with people means on their terms, thus the normal work day.
Aside from that, working late at night isn’t really optimal for productivity. And if we’re going to scratch a living without working for the man, you better bring your productivity A game.
Myth #3: Home offices can be anything; they’re not that important because you’re at your home.
The office is important because it is your personal domain. It’s where you are comfortable, and can easily find things when you need them. And there is a very big difference between a home office and a traditional office space: it’s much more needed. With email and laptops, the common misconception is that working at home means you are 100% portable. You wanna work on the porch? No problem. The bathroom? It’d be a little weird, but why not? We have a freedom that traditional workers don’t: Mobility.
But we don’t really want mobility if we’re going to be productive, we want structure. Structure is the best thing to happen to productivity since notecards. Structure sets us in routines, and these routines help free our brains from extra running processes, giving us more juice for the real tasks at hand. The less we think about our surroundings, the more productive we are. I’m not saying that working in a totally white room with no windows is ideal, but rather a place where we’re comfortable and know where everything is.
In order to work at home, you have to be willing to give up a lot of luxuries for not having a boss. Things like insurance, paid vacations, retirement plans, and many others. But there is a lot more freedom attached to your job; and odds are you’ll find a lot more satisfaction because you’re doing the thing you really want to do. Just don’t think that working from home is going to be easier than your previous job… it’ll probably be harder.
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