As I set out to write this post I have a sly grin tickling my face when I reflect on a video I saw recently. It was of this man being interviewed live on national tv from the comfort of his home office. He was suitably dressed, tie and all and his office looked the part, even boasting an impressive world map. Well, in walked this cute daughter without a care in the world, then in rushed a female crawling on hands and knees trying to avoid the camera, and grabbing the child out of the view of millions. It was so funny! That video has gone viral now so if you have not seen it before, you will still be able to find it online.
Unfortunately (or fortunately) my stay at home work experience has not delivered anything half as funny thus far, but there still is time!
Studies have shown that a rapidly increasing number of people have ditched the regular 9-5 in the corporate world and have taken up providing services mostly online from the comfort of their own homes. Recently I spoke with three women who made their living working from home. Their stories were insightful and I learned so much from them.
I want to share with you some of the different sides of working from home. It’s a decision I don’t think I will ever regret making.
I left my 9 to 5 (earlier most days and later than 5 on quite a few occasions) this year. It is something that I had wanted to do for a very long time and so when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped right in.
I feel therefore that I am no more a novice to this work from home thing. Right now I am just at the half year point of working from home so I thought I would share with you some of the pros and cons. As I see it, some of the pros can be cons and vice versa, so you decide.
To be honest, some days time seem to just fly. I start off most days with the usual ‘getting kids ready for school stuff’ and then tidying the house and then I settle down to work. Most times by the time those jobs get done, it is near 11 a.m and sometimes even 12. On days when I have online jobs to do for clients, I dare not do housework first. I aim to be reliable so that sometime I might let myself (and my household) down but I won’t let a client down. So some days, I don’t get to do housework until near time for the kids to come home and sometimes even after they have come home, and sometimes, regretfully, it does not get done at all. There are some strict, work from home folks who follow a strict schedule and almost nothing stops them. I know sometimes I have my schedule to follow but other things get in the way, which is where my next point comes in.
On days when I have online jobs to do for clients, I dare not do housework first. I aim to be reliable so that sometimes I might let myself (and my household) down but I won’t let a client down.
There are some strict, work from home folks who follow a strict schedule and almost nothing stops them. I know sometimes I have my schedule to follow but other things get in the way, which is where my next point comes in.
So some days, I don’t get to do housework until near time for the kids to come home and sometimes even after they have come home, and sometimes, regrettably, it does not get done at all.
There are always ‘other’ things that sometimes will take precedence over ‘jobs’. Take appointments for example. What can you do? More harm than good will come as a result of missing some of these. Dentists, Opticians and Doctors appointments should not be missed.
Most times, we know when we have these appointments and can set our schedules around them but there are some things which just seem to crop up and take us by surprise. A burst pipe can’t be made to wait until all other jobs are finished right? Right. Some things need our attention right away or else the effects will be deleterious. That being said, how I manage this situation is to ensure that unfinished jobs for one day take priority on my ‘To do’ list for the following day. Some bosses would not be happy with that and would insist that those jobs are finished on that day. The stress!!
Less Feeling of Guilt About Decisions Made
When I did my regular 9 to 5, there were days when I had to be absent from work, either because I was ill or one of my children was. But I always felt such guilt especially if the absence extended to more than one day. Even if nothing was said (to my face) I always felt that things were being said in my absence. Well, with working from home, I feel no guilt whatsoever if I have to leave my job to do something else.
Having Your Pyjama and Wearing it
You must have heard of having your cake and eating it, right? Well, I’m not much of a cake person so my comparable quote is having my pajama and wearing it. Since the majority of what I have to do for my job is done online, I get to choose what I wear whilst I work, and a lot of the times my PJ’s fit the bill. Sometimes I chuckle to myself when I think of what I am wearing.
The Monetary Cost Associated with Working
Well, let’s talk some figures now. I worked quite far away from home and spent about £50 per week on petrol. That is a grand total of £2,400 per year. That’s huge! Now I don’t have any of those costs related to the job I now do from home, so I consider that a saving. There is another bit of saving related to clothing costs.
As you know, smart, work suits and shoes plus matching accessories and handbags can be quite expensive so that is a blessing as well as a saving that I don’t have to pay those costs. I don’t mind having leftovers at home for lunch. That being said, if I were back in my regular 9 to 5, I would not dare take some of the stuff I now eat, out to lunch, granted it’s all delicious and nutritious but I would have to endure stares perhaps and have to justify why I was eating ‘that’ for lunch.
Like I have said before, I don’t like to disappoint my clients. I work to schedule or have plausible, acceptable reasons for a job not being finished on time. In my former work life, I felt such stress at times, it was unbelievable!! On two occasions (six years apart) I was under doctor’s orders to be away from work for extended periods of time. Schedules, performance management objectives, overbearing bosses and others with no people skill whatsoever, made life so difficult for me, I had to resort to antidepressants. I was so, so sad. After the first incident, I made a promise to myself that if the stress got to that unbearable level again I would quit. So that’s what I did the second time around.
With working from home, I definitely will not let job-related stress get me to the point where I have to seek medical help. I just won’t do it!
Holiday Whenever I want
Well….within reason. In the industry that I worked prior to this, I could only go on vacation during school breaks. Now, I can go at some other time if I prefer as long as I put things in place for my children. Strictly speaking, I wouldn’t want to go on holiday without my children so I will still wait for their school breaks. However, the feeling that comes with knowing that you can choose to go whenever you want is exhilarating.
Work from Anywhere in the World
One of the perks of working from home is that depending on the niche you are in, you may be able to work from anywhere in the world. Thankfully as most of my job entail working on a computer (with internet access) I am able to do it even if I travel. In fact, this post that has gone viral a few times was done while I was away from home in a caravan! Not everyone can make that claim.
Amazon and other deliveries
I remember the days when I would come home to find a delivery note or two because the post had come but was too big or needed to be signed for. Oh, the inconvenience of having to go to a parcel pick-up center to collect it! Now when I have a delivery from Amazon or any other online store, I actually greet the delivery driver myself and collect my own parcel.
I Determine My Own Work Hours
Some people claim not to be ‘Morning people’ which I can definitely understand. I like waking up early, getting things done and I don’t mind working late into the night either. For some, they can’t stand early mornings and some might be thought of as being lazy. I get that. I think, however, that as long as someone is willing to work hard at what they do, then it does not matter what time they start working each day.
So with working from home, like working outside of the home, there are negatives and positives. I am happy working from home, so happy in fact that I have determined that I do not ever want to work anywhere else especially not in the industry I worked in before. I can’t decide for you, but look at my points and see where you might be swayed.
So as I sit here with this grin on my face, I’m also thinking sadly about my former work colleagues who are longing for the day (maybe retirement) when they can leave the drudgery of their present 9-5.