For the last two weeks, I took what I call a “birthday blog break.” Basically, I’ve been on blog vacation – kinda – in celebration of my birthday. I haven’t been actively posting or promoting, although I’ve still been working on posts and my freelance consulting. During this “break,” I received more comments than usual about how I’m “free” and how it “must be nice.” So let’s discuss this. Here’s what not to say to your friend who works from home.
1. “Must be nice…”
Any statement that starts with “must be nice” is going to come across as jealous and more than a little passive-aggressive.
“You work from home? Must be nice working in your PJs all day.” Yes, it is. But more often than not, I don’t work in my PJs all day. Non-traditional work environments do not always equal PJs. As I write this at 6:30am, I’m wearing a dress. Not only am I working earlier than most traditional workers, I’m dressed nicer than many of them, too.
2. “Since you don’t work, can you run this random errand for me?”
Let’s be super clear here, remote workers are still workers. In fact, remote workers have been shown to be more productive than their in-office counterparts. Part of what makes us more productive is that we set boundaries in our home environment that we cannot set in an office.
For example, at my last office job, I wasted an estimated two hours a day on chit chat. The Vice President of the company loved to gab, and he would often come into my office and talk about absolutely nothing for an hour at a time – multiple times a day! Being at home, I can avoid that. I don’t answer the door or my phone when I’m working; I have the option to shut out the world in a way I never had in an office.
So in short, no. I cannot run an errand for you in the middle of my work day. Like you, I’m working.
3. “At least you don’t have to go to work.”
If you’re referring to not having to commute, you’re right. I don’t have to commute, and that is absolutely amazing. Living out in the suburbs, I used to waste 90+ minutes commuting a day. Having that time back is amazing. But do you know what I spend those 90+ minutes doing instead? Working, usually. Sometimes sleeping, though, if I’m being honest.
4. “Your house must be so clean!”
HAHAHA! Oh, I wish. And this was actually something I thought would happen, too, when I started working from home, so I totally get where you’re coming from with this. But no. I don’t spend 9-5 vacuuming and dusting. I spend it working.
I use my “free time” to cook dinner for my family – a luxury I did not have working in an office at a position with no work-life balance. I also use my “free time” to work some more. I usually work between the hours of 6:30am and 9:00pm. During my blog break, I took weekends off but that isn’t normally how I work. Normally, I work about 60 hours a week, but because I work from home, I don’t experience the burnout that I did in an office environment.
5. “I wish I could watch TV all day.”
Me, too! What job allows that? Sign me up.
I learned early on that I cannot watch TV and be productive. It took me like three seasons of Law & Order: SVU to realize that I was getting nothing done during the day but watching Benson and Stabler solve sex crimes. Now, I listen to music while I work, which is a little funny because that’s exactly how I stayed focused in an office environment. Some things don’t change.
QUIT YOUR WHINING, MAGGIE
Real talk: working from home is amazing. Do I have days where I want to go back to the office? Honestly, yes. There have been days when people are not respecting my workflow and I think, “This wouldn’t happen if I were at the office!” But do I actually want to return to the office? Goodness no. Working from home is borderline perfection if you’re cut out for it! But like all jobs, it isn’t for everyone.
The key to working from home successfully is boundaries and a strong work ethic. It’s really easy to nap on the couch instead of finishing your tasks. And some days, I do nap on the couch. But I pay for that later when I’m working until 11:30pm. (That may have happened to me last week.)