People tend to make a lot of assumptions about working from home, and what it’ll be like. Some of them, such as the “you’ll save time on commuting” one, are absolutely true. Others – well, not so much, really. In fact, some of the assumptions people make about working from home are just plain wrong. Here are just five of them:
1. You’ll be able to set your own hours
This is true to an extent, in that people who work from home tend to have more control over their working hours than people who work for someone else, but only to an extent. The truth is that most clients will expect you to be available during normal working hours, and, for most people, that means Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm. So while it’s true that people who work from homecan choose to have a lie in anytime they feel like it, they shouldn’t be surprised if that lie in is disturbed by a ringing phone at 9am on a Monday morning.
2. You’ll spend more time with your family
Again, this is true to an extent, but only if by “spending time with the family” you mean “being in the same house at the same time as them”. Of course, it is possible to manage your workload in such a way that you have oodles of free time in which to take the dog for long walks and spend time playing with the kids, but I don’t know many freelancers who’ve managed it. Most freelancers I know actually work longer hours than people who’re employed by someone else, and many of those with children have been forced to employ a child minder for a few hours each day or week to allow them to get the work done. While you may not fall into that category, if you do, you can forget all about those long walks in the countryside and quality time with the kids.
3. Your house will be spotless
When I first started freelancing from home, I fondly imagined that all of those chores I was struggling to keep up with when I worked for someone else would suddenly be done with not even the slightest bit of fuss. No more would I rush home at lunchtime to empty the washing machine and clean the floors! No longer would I return home, exhausted, only to be faced with a mountain of ironing and a sink filled with dirty dishes! Why, I would have time to cook meals from scratch! And bake! Um, well, not really. Now that I work from home and have to be both boss and employee (not to mention secretary, accountant and receptionist), I need a cleaner/gardener/ironing service more than ever. Go figure.
4. You will earn lots of money, without doing much work
Some people do earn lots of money by working from home – this much is true. Those people, though, are working very, very hard indeed. Trust me. They’re probably working much harder than the people who drive to an office every day, and if you confronted them with the statement above, they’d laugh their asses off at it. If you think that you’ll be able to sit in front of the TV, happily stuffing envelopes and being paid for it, think again. Every single “work from home without actually doing much in the way of work” scheme I’ve ever encountered has been a scam. If you want to make money by working from home, you’ll have to put in the hours – and lots of them.
5. You’ll get more work done, because you won’t have all of the distractions of working in an office
You’d think that, wouldn’t you? Offices can be horrible, noisy places, with phones ringing, colleagues chattering and people coming and going non-stop. Unfortunately, your home can be exactly the same. Once your friends and family realise that you’re at home all day, your time will no longer be your own. They will “pop in” for coffee. They will call you up for a chat. They’ll ask you to babysit, or do a grocery run, or give them a lift somewhere, because “you’re just sitting at home all day, anyway”. For some reason, other people find it very difficult to understand that someone who works from home actually haswork to do, and this will drive you crazy very, very quickly. Of all of the problems I’ve ever encountered in the time I’ve been working from home, this one has to be the hardest to deal with – and the most infuriating.
It’s not all bad, though. Despite these five myths, I still love working from home, and wouldn’t have it any other way. If you want to do it, go for it – just remember it may not be quite the easy option people expect it to be.