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If you are a stay-at-home mom or dad who aspires to work part-time or full-time from home, this post is for you....If you are a mom or dad who has taken up working from home, for any reason, this post is for you....If you are a mom or dad who spends most of your time working in an office and far from your beloved family, this post is for you too!
When you are working, you long to stay at home; and when you are at home, you long to work - even if it is just to maintain your sanity! So then working from home is the ideal solution, no? Well, lets see.
People who work from home are the envied lot, who get to work in their pajamas and spend as much time with their family as they want. Generally viewed as people who manage to enjoy the best of both worlds, their schedule is not tied to the clock like the full-time office goers. They also do not have to answer to anyone but themselves... All in all, working from home sounds like being your own boss!
Well, everyone is perceived by others differently. This is how stereotypes and myths are created, that mostly stick on, no matter whether they apply to a particular individual or not. Here are some of the myths(I feel), that are prevalent about people who work from home; and the truth as to why (I think) they are just myths. Let's take them with a pinch of salt ;)
Myth 1: People who work from home get to work from the 'comfort of their homes'
We have all heard and read about how people who work-from-home get to work 'from the comfort of their homes'. They do not have to play dress up and clock in at decided times. They can also avoid the hassle of commuting to and from work. They can munch on goodies all day, relax if they do not feel like working and work when the whim strikes. All they need is a laptop and a good internet connection, and voila! they are set. Now all they have to do is just sip on their coffee and peck at their laptops. Right?
Truth: Yes, to an extent; but mostly no.
Well, if you are a diligent professional working from home, you will know, that no work happens from 'comfort' of any sort. Most people have a work area or an office space set up in a part of their home to get serious work done. Of course it is possible once in a while, to work from your balcony or on the swing; but for any real quality work to be done, you need to have a place which is free from distractions, well lit and with good internet connectivity. If you have little children at home, or a continuously going TV or a music system, how much work gets done is anyone's guess. Besides, people working from home have to devote just as much serious time to their work as a full-time office goer might have to.
Myth 2: People who work from home can work 'on their own time'
Read any advert for a work-from home job opportunity, and you will find the words "work on your own time, no need to answer to anyone!" Sounds wonderful, isn't it? No fixed times to start your workday, no need to finish something before the boss steps out, no reason to stay back late in office to finish something urgent and no missing out on birthdays or anniversaries, no heart-breaking phone calls back home, late, to say "sorry sweetheart mummy/daddy needs to be here for just a little bit longer...".....ah! the woes of the worker-bees and the delights of working from home! Yes?
Truth: Well, maybe sometimes, but again, mostly no.
People who work from home do not need to 'clock in' technically, but they work their schedules around the schedules of their family members. So then, their partners who have to go to work and their school-going children get priority. Then come the little ones at home, or the ageing parents who need tending to. And only then, can they start their own work-day. Working from home also has deadlines and schedules to be met; and people who work from home do not have the liberty to stay back in office to meet these. In fact, we see many people working from home, who prefer to work in the wee hours of the morning or late at night to stay on their schedule. Yes, perhaps the ones who work from home do not miss birthdays or anniversaries; but they have to make up for the time spent setting up the party and enjoying it, by burning the proverbial 'midnight oil'.
Myth 3: Work-from-home moms/dads get a lot of time with their children
What parent wouldn't give anything to be with their child all the time if they can? What parent wouldn't want to take a day off and tend to their ailing child, or just break free and have a spontaneous holiday midweek? For worker bees this is almost never a possibility. But for people who work from home, one important benefit of working from home is that they can work, earn, and spend time with their children too.....work when the kids are in school....play when they are at home.......oh! envy, do not colour me green!!
Truth: Well, yes, ideally, but again, mostly no.
Most people who work from home, choose to work from home as they either cannot afford to spend time going out to work or do not wish to. They may have several reasons including young children or old parents to care for. But this caring and tending to, has its limitations if the person working from home plans to get any decent work done. Working from home has its own trying moments too. There are times when there are calls to be taken or meetings to be attended when kids are at home. It hurts those working from home too to tear their attention from their kids to attend to work, which, nevertheless, has to be done.
Myth 4: Work-from-home moms/dads have a better rapport with their children
If you work from home, you are always at home. So if your children need you, no matter what time of the day, you are always available. Ergo, you get a lot of time with your children, and therefore, obviously, share a better rapport with your kids compared to the full-time worker bees. Plus if you work from home, you do not have to leave your children to be attended to by others, family or otherwise. How I wish I could do that too!
Truth: More time with children, yes maybe; but better rapport, not necessarily so.
For all purposes, someone who works from home is as much a worker-bee as someone who works full-time out of home. So the time and attention that they can lavish on their kids is understandably limited. Sometimes, even those who work from home may need to hire help or engage family to look after the kids while they work, or may sometimes have barely any time to interact with the kids after their work and the household chores are taken care of. But most importantly, children have a mind of their own. No telling whether they will open up to their moms, dads, grandparents, siblings or their friends......thereby negating whatever 'benefit' working from home affords in terms of building a better rapport with children just because you are at home all the time.
Myth 5: If you work from home, you have fewer distractions and can get more quality work done
If you have spent time in an office environment for sometime, you will know where this is headed. Many times people complain that there are constant interruptions in office and that they can barely get work done. Add to that extended lunch hours and frequent coffee breaks, and you have hardly any time left to concentrate on getting any quality work done. But people who work from home usually work at a time when they are more likely to get some calm and quiet. There are also no chatty/whiny/bored/excited discussions vying for their attention and participation. Therefore, people who work from home get more quality work done in less time than most full-time office goers. Wish I had that luxury too!
Truth: Less time overall and fewer or no breaks; and that's the only truth.
People who work from home, especially work-from-home moms/dads usually work on a tight schedule. They have to tiptoe around everyone else's schedule at home and then sneak in the time to get some of their own work done. They therefore, have probably half the time as compared to full-time office goers, to complete the same amount of work. 'Time' is clearly one luxury those working from home do not have.
Yes, they do not have discussions with colleagues when they are in the middle of serious work; but then the telephones and a blaring TV or music does it for them too. Plus, if work-from-home moms/dads are raising kids alone, they have little ones at home who know nothing about 'serious work' and demand their attention all the time. A typical work-from-home parent, in fact, especially if alone at home with a child, is seriously starved for adult company and conversation - so much so, that a bit of gossip wouldn't hurt. But parents working from home do not have the luxury to gossip. They have to make the most of the little time available to them.
So, while it is fun to work from home and most people who do, would not want to trade it for anything else; the truth is, working from home is a lot of work. It may sound like a win-win situation, no doubt, but then the grass is greener on the other side, always.
This post first appeared on Ramblings et al.