When I dreamed of working at home, I imagined long days at the park with my kids and a clean house. After over 15 years home full-time, neither has come to pass. Here are some common work-at-home myths and realities.
Myth 1: Work/Life Balance will be easier by working at home.
This could be true, but it’s not guaranteed. Regardless of where you work, striving towards balance takes prioritizing and planning. Just because you save time on commuting or maybe work less hours, doesn’t mean you’ll fill it up with laundry, errands, and play-dates at the park. Many first-time work-at-homers are surprised at how little time they ultimately have and how important a schedule and routine is to getting any sort of balance.
Myth 2: I can work at home with a new baby
There is very little that can be done when there is a new baby except feed it, change its diabpers and nap. The reality of working at home with kids is that it’s very difficult. You can’t expect to make a full-time income during nap times. It’s difficult to focus on work when you feel the need to be with the baby. Even when kids are older and can entertain themselves for short periods of time, working at home is difficult. But when you work at home, you can often manipulate your schedule and take advantage of other child care options that aren’t available to you when you work outside the home. You can have a sitter at your home for a few hours during the day and spend the rest of the time with baby until it goes to bed then finish up your work at night. Or you can use child-care co-ops and pre-schools to get a few hours of work done, and again finish up at night.
Myth 3: Life will be perfect once I can work at home.
Like number 2, this can be true, but it’s not guaranteed. A job you hate, even if it’s done at home, can make your life miserable. Working at home creates its own kinds of stress such as managing work, home and family under one roof 24/7. Then there is the isolation (Tweeting can only do so much to fix that!). Finding work that you enjoy and creating a schedule that works for you and your family is the only way to create a life you love.
Myth 4: Working at home is just like working outside the home.
I haven’t met anyone yet who feels this is true. Even if you’re employed at home (as opposed to a home business), working at home is very different than working in an office. There are none of the external cues that remind you to work such as a cubicle or a boss hanging over your shoulder. Instead there are refrigerators and televisions and laundry to distract you. There is no one available right then to ask for feedback or to get help in problem solving when things start to go wrong.
Myth 5: Working at home is less professional or shows less dedication to the job
There was a time when this was considered true and many home business owners spent fortunes on call center services to hide the fact that their office was at home. Today, where you work isn’t so much an issue as long as your client or boss can’t hear Barney singing in the background and you can present a professional image when working. There may be some employers that will view telecommuters as being less committed to the job, but you can help offset that by being diligent in getting your work done and making sure everyone knows it through your work reports and networking among your colleagues. Proving your productivity can go along away to convincing a boss that working at home doesn’t change your dedication to your job.