In addition to writing for Web Worker Daily and working as a technology industry analyst, I’m a mother of three, a wife, a homeowner, and human companion to my dog Sally. I’m lucky to be able to work from home. If a kid gets sick and can’t go to school, if an appliance needs servicing, if Sally needs petting, if my husband works from home and wants to engage in water cooler chat by the kitchen sink: I’m here to handle it.
On the other hand, sometimes it seems like no one thinks I’m really working. My husband has been known to make finger quotes when he asks me, “are you going to go work now?” My neighbors look a bit skeptical when they ask how my career is progressing. I feel sheepish when contractors working on the house see me obsessively checking my news reader; they probably think I’m just an Internet addict with nothing better to do.
Amy Dunkin of Business Week describes how working from home doesn’t always look to the outside world like real work, leading to real difficulties in actually getting our work done:
Years ago, when her now 17-year-old daughter Hilary was a young child and Jill had switched from an outside-the-home journalism job to an inside-the-home writing job, she complained to me about well-meaning friends who called her in the middle of the day to chat. They apparently assumed that because she was home, she could simply drop whatever she was doing to talk to them. As if she had no work to do, no schedules to follow, no deadlines to meet.
I thought about this the other day as I was frying up potato latkes with another mother for a Chanukah party in my son’s class. This full-time working mom runs a consulting business out of her home. Yet because she’s around during the workday, she’s constantly taking on volunteer projects that I, as a full-time working mom, would never offer–or agree–to do.
I’d never trade my work-wherever-I-want setup for an office job unless I had to: the pleasures and profits of web work are just too great. And I don’t really care whether other people think I’m working or not. Still, it can be interesting to see how other people think of our work lives, and as in the cases described by Amy above, there can be a real impact to our productivity if others don’t take our work seriously.
Do you find other people take your web work seriously? Do you ever run into any problems with people assuming you’re available for volunteer or community work or daytime favors because you don’t work a nine-to-five office job?