People who work outside their homes are quick to tell me “how jealous” they are of my current employment situation. “It must be great to work from home!” They say. “You must love it!” They say. Sure, working from home has its perks – my laundry is usually done and folded, for example – but most of the rabid enthusiasm from my out-of-the-home working brethren comes from a place of near total ignorance.
Here are just a few examples of things that people have told me about working from home:
“The commute must be great!”
Hurr Hurr. Although it is true that I simply have to walk across the hall to get to work in the morning, working in my guest room is not the greatest. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to leave work when work is literally 3 seconds away?
The short commute also means that I’m “at work” around 7 in the morning and that I “leave work” whenever the work is done. Depending on the day, that could be anywhere from 3 in the afternoon to 3 in the morning.
“You can take off whenever you want!”
For the record, this is actually true. As a self-employed contractor, I do have the ability to take off work whenever I want. This has come in handy for a variety of family events like weddings, baby showers and the occasional desire to go to the North American International Auto Show “just because.” It also means that if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. So sure, I’ll be Up North for two weeks in July, but I’ll be working the entire time.
In short, my physical location plays no role in whether or not I “show up for work.”
“At least you don’t have to deal with a bunch of stupid meetings!”
If only this were true! Instead of having my days filled with conference rooms and free bagels, I have 8 conference calls with 18 people in 12 different time zones. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to coordinate those?
“Your husband must love having you home!”
Sometimes, I don’t even want to answer this. It implies that the fact that I work from home keeps me available to make my husband a sandwich. The fact of the matter is that my husband is unemployed. 9 days out of 10, he makes me a sandwich. Still, I do get a little rankled by the implication that my work-from-home status means that I must do all the housework.
As it stands, we split the housework. Because, you know, we respect each other and stuff.
“It’ll be so easy when you have kids!”
Now, I don’t have children, so I can’t comment on this with any real certainty. Still, I find the idea that working from home will make it easier to raise children a little laughable. Think of it this way. Stay-at-home Moms stay home to raise their kids. (Which is great! Good!) Working Moms work outside the home and pay for childcare for their children. (Which is great! Good!) So a work-from-home Mom should…what? Work full time in their home offices while also watching their children full time? That seems like a recipe for stressed-out everyone.
Also, it’s a little creepy when people who have no business commenting on the size of your family start planning your hypothetical childcare.
“So you basically get paid to play around on the internet? Awesome!”
No. False. Wrong.
Seriously, there are a whole bunch of people in my life who are convinced that I don’t actually work for a living. I’ve explained the system to my father-in-law so many times that he has given up wondering what I do for a living. Plus, my dad likes to text me every. single. day. to ask “Have [I] worked at all today?” No, Dad. I am just sitting around watching the cars park.
“You must have so much time!”
You know, there’s something to this. I do have the luxury of grocery shopping in the middle of the day, working out whenever I want to and scheduling appointments at my discretion. However, every time I step away from the computer, I watch my email like a hawk. Because even though I’m not technically working, the reality of the situation is that I’m always working.
Be nice to your work-from-home friends. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.