Web workers, especially those of us who are self-employed, will sometimes encounter people who, it seems, take us less seriously because we don’t have a corporate cube to work in. There are two ways to deal with this.
Some web workers go to great lengths to mask that our office and home are one and the same. We can use P.O. box or mailbox suite addresses, and install separate phone lines that we can always answer with a business salutation. We might keep rigidly to business hours and avoid any reference in conversation that would reveal our office/home marriage.
Of course, there is another option. We can let it all hang out, so to speak, and freely acknowledge our home office location and its attendant benefits (and disadvantages) to the people we do business with.
Which of these options is best to use is somewhat a function of the industry that each of us works in and our own personal comfort level. Personally, I have chosen the second option — complete openness. There are several reasons why:
It’s cheaper. All those additional services, like a mailbox suite and additional phone line, cost money that I would much rather spend on other things like a new computer gadget.
It’s too much work to pretend. Keeping up a pretense about where my office is just takes energy I’d rather put into my actual work. And besides, I know I’d eventually make a mistake anyway and let the secret out, so why make the effort to keep it a secret at all?
It tells me what people respect. If someone dismisses me because I work from a home office, I probably didn’t want to work with them anyway. People who respect me and the quality of my work will want to work with me, no matter where my office is located. Being upfront about where I work helps sort out who respects me, and not just the office they think I have.
It makes it easier for the next web worker. Having a good experience dealing with someone that they know is working from home will hopefully lay the groundwork with people to have a better attitude towards the next web worker they encounter.
It’s my life. The bottom line is that I work from my home office because it allows me to blend my work and my personal life in a way that works for me. Pretending otherwise would defeat the purpose of that. It would remove some of the very flexibility that I have sought in being a web worker, such as the ability to be able to care after school for my autistic 6-year-old daughter while I work.
Everyone has to do what works for them, but I have chosen to be open with my web worker status. Yes, it can occasionally be awkward or get me dismissed by a few people who don’t understand the new world of web work. But I make no apologies and find that my candor serves me well in more situations than it hurts me.
How open are you with people you do business with about where your office is? Does this help or hinder you?