Working from home has many, many advantages. Comfy environments, no commute, to name a few. However, working from home also comes with just as many disadvantages. It’s easy to become distracted, the pay is never guaranteed, and it can get quite lonely. However, one of the worst parts about being a home worker for me are all the stereotypes that follow people who work at home. Here are few that I run into all the time.
1. You’re ALWAYS open for business.
It seems that once people learn that my “office” is in my house, that I can answer work-related calls, IM’s and emails whenever is convenient for them. I’ve managed to curb this pretty well by using away status messages and not picking up the phone after 5pm, but it’s still annoying.
Home workers need to have standards like everyone else. You don’t work 16-hour days. Why should we?
2. “You’re at home. How can you be working?”
To this day I still have to answer this question. You’d think with the Internet establishing itself as, well, a huge business opportunity, people would catch on that you don’t have to drive to an office to actually work. We can turn on computers at our house or a coffee shop just as easily as we could in a cubicle, thankyouverymuch!
3. You take too many breaks.
Never. Ever. Will I take too many breaks in a given working day. I’ve found (time and again) that taking breaks is a boon for productivity. It’s at the heart and soul of my productivity plan, and I will always center my day around them.
Breaks keep me sharp, energized, and most importantly, sane.
4. You don’t NEED decent office equipment.
Sure, I can work on a couch just as easily as a nicer desk. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have that flexibility. However, the home worker should never skimp on office equipment. You need to have a place that you can call your own work place that isn’t a part of the living room seating. It’s a psychological edge more than anything. Having a place that is associated with working/thinking allows you to enter the zone much quicker.
5. You never have to leave your home.
Leaving your house is incredibly important to the home worker. It’s easy to get used to the work environment of your home, and your productivity will lag. Or you’ll get sidetracked easier. At your house, there are way to many things that could easily distract you. For me, that would any of the seasons of The Office. Or my guitar. Or other household chores.
If you’re really wanting to buckle down on a project, leave the house and go to a coffee shop. Moving to a different environment keeps you focused on the task at hand, and quickly removes all of those temptations.
6. You can work whenever you want.
It’s no surprise that for most people, the most productive times of the day are in the morning. This is when the rest of the world works. That means that it’s even harder to work when the rest of the world isn’t working.
7. You’re rich.
Maybe this is just my own experience, but it seems that when I tell people that I’m my own boss, I must be making bank. Completely untrue. Although I think I do pretty well, I’m not by any standard wealthy. I pay my bills, and that’s about it.
8. You work in pajamas, don’t brush your teeth, and never see the sun.
Oh, and we only eat delivered foods, shower bi-weekly, and have no “real” friends. Just because we work at home doesn’t mean we aren’t humans, people! I make it a point to take a shower, go for a run, eat a great breakfast and read every day before I start work. Also, all bragging aside, I lead a decent social life with many friends outside of the online world.
If you do find yourself living an unhealthy lifestyle without physical friends and decent habits, start working on them. You’re missing out on one of the greatest aspects of being a home worker. You have more freedom to do the things you love apart from work, making it much easier to lead a social life.
9. You only work 45 minutes a day, and the rest of the time is spent playing video games.
Yup. As soon as I tell people I work from home, they automatically think I’m a slacker. In reality, I usually put in a fairly productive 6-8 hour day. I am constantly learning, and I hardly ever feel like I would work less than someone in a cubicle. Actually, I’d guess home workers are more productive because they have more motivation than a cubicle slave.
The traditional office worker is guaranteed a paycheck, even if he doesn’t work as hard as she could. The home worker has much more pressure and motivation because her paycheck is not guaranteed. If she doesn’t perform, rent isn’t paid. Plain and simple.
10. You know everything about computers.
Anyone else out there like me who doesn’t know squat about the workings of a computer? I have a passing, if not barely passing knowledge of computers. I know a decent amount about software. Yet people always assume that because I work on the “Internets” all day long, I can fix their computer. Or configure their home network. Or some other computer hardware problem.
It must be a lot like the assumption that if you own a truck, you’d love to help everybody move.
So carry on, self-employed warrior. Wear these misconceptions as a badge. Some day the world will understand that we work just as hard, if not harder, than every one of those office-bound serfs.