Top Five Myths About Home-Based Web Workers

26 Comments

You don’t have to work from home to qualify as a web worker, but if you do, your work habits may be misunderstood by those who work in an office. There are a lot of widely held beliefs about web workers who work from home that simply aren’t true. My favorites?

1. You’re “working” at home…nudge nudge, wink wink. No, actually I’m really working. If you call me, I answer. Need something before day’s end? Consider it done. I’m not “working” (read “doing laundry and watching E! all day”). I’m working (read “kicking out the jams”).

2. You’re wearing pajamas, or are perhaps naked from the waist down. I don’t know what kind of operation you think we run around here, but I assure you I would never do either of these things for a variety of reasons. The most important reason is that I need to feel like I’m going to work, and to that end I must shower, clothe myself, and otherwise do things that the typical office worker ideally does on a daily basis.

3. Home-based work is great because you get to spend more time with your family. I refer you back to item one, regarding the difference between “working” and actually working. I do not spend my days doing glitter projects with the kids in my home office. Any extra time I get with my wonderful family is likely due to the fact that I’m not driving anywhere to get to work and not working from home. If I could walk five minutes to a job down the street, I suspect I’d experience the same boost in family time.

4. You must get so lonely. Well, if the phone stopped ringing and the IM and email stopped flowing, I suppose I might have a chance to experience that loneliness. Of course, your work may be different, but most of the home-based workers I know are very in touch, albeit virtually.

5. You must be involved in some kind of bleeding edge technology work to be able to work from home. In reality, home-based workers are doing all kinds of old fashioned jobs (writing, radiology) as well as the more groovy Web 2.0-type stuff. There’s no telling what kind of job you might could do remotely, if you put your mind to figuring out how it can be done.

What myths and misconceptions about home-based work have you encountered among your colleagues, neighbors, or significant others?

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26 Comments

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dtj

My working from home creates all kinds of entertainment. My 13 yr old son’s friends are the most freaked out of the people that I interact with. Because I work at home most of the time and I usually work late at night, it affords me the time to be involved alot in my son’s life, such as school and sports. Most of the other kids parents have 9-5ish jobs, both blue and white collar. Eventually I get the sheepish question “do you, like, work?”. Some can’t really fully grasp the answer, so I might just say that I am a pimp or something.

Beau

Great post! I’ve got some rebuttals to the myths and some that I agree with…

Myth 1 – Sure, I’ll put a load of laundry in during the day. But I’ll also respond to emails and work on spreadsheet models after the kids go to bed. I think I end up working more now that I am not working in a office. There isn’t such a clear distinction between work and non-work time. Its all just become productive time!

Myth 2 – I tried working in my pajamas once – it didn’t just feel right. Sure, I’ll make my 5:30 am Pacific time conference call with the east coast plant in my pajamas, but I still shower, shave and get dressed everyday. Yeah, I might wear shorts and no shoes, but I’m still dressed.

Myth 4 – There is some truth here, IMHO. The type of interactions change, eventhough I have IM to connect me to the people in the office. The hallway conversations with my 5 year old are great, but not the same as running into the CEO or EVP of Ops in the office hallway. I was especially lonely when the school year started and my 5 year old wasn’t with me during the day.

over50now

I agree with every single one. The first three especially. I often start work shortly after 5am because that when the pets start to make their daily “I’m hungry so wake up or I’ll get really loud” sounds. I grab a cup of coffee, sit down at the computer, barely surface for lunch and sometime mid afternoon think “I really should make myself fit for leaving the house” so finally take a shower.

Unless I have a meeting or something and then it’s like a regular day – but I still start at 5.

Rodrigo

First of all you have to be very disciplined to work from home. Doing as you said, dress like as you are in the office helps to your mind to keep that discipline. Each one will find things to boost that “virtual office environment”

Chris Wilson

Working in the nude? Only if I swing by my machine between shower and bedroom and decide to answer an email right away. Its a happened a few times. In my pajamas? All the time. Before I was employed full-time on-site again, I used to get up, grab some breakfast, and relax in the cool morning air with the windows open while checking my email, blogs, and other essentials. Of course, then I started work about 7:30 – 8 am. Loved it. After that, I took a break and showered, dressed, etc.

Living in an old New England home without central air, I have, on the occassional 85+ degree day worked in nothing but shorts. And of course, being able to just jump in the pool at a moment’s notice was unbelievably wonderful.

Of course, like many of you, I also got to ‘enjoy’ working in the cool evening air at 8, 9, even 10pm.

You give some, you take some.

Monica Ricci

I knew it! I feel better knowing I’m NOT the only one working in the buff!

Note: I do wear clothing anytime I’m actually out of my house.

MichaelR

I work in an extremely old school association that refuses to allow a formal work-at-home policy. This post will help with my mission to get it adopted.

I think the “wink wink, I’m working” belief has been the hardest bridge to cross for our leadership. I worked exclusively at home for three years before I came here and I can tell you I worked my butt off, usually late into the night most days. Sure I did laundry in the middle of the day, but it likely took me less overall time than some people in the office spend smoking out in front of the building.

Bottom line, either you’re producing or you’re not. Unfortunately, if you’re in the office every day you can usually get away with producing less.

Chris

I work from a corporate office, but am still naked from the waist down.

Just kidding.

Its amazing these myths are still so pervasive. My experience has been that in some cases its harder to work from home – although that is probably because I am one of those web workers who happens to be an an office.

Michael

My (straight) answers to the 5 questions above:

1. You’re “working” at home…nudge nudge, wink wink.
Yes, I am ! Given the fact that I do so 1-2 days/week gives me the opportunity to f.ex. do the laundry, pick up my son early from school, do the shopping (easier to find a parking space) etc. during “office hours”.
On the other hand – don’t expect me to “just” work from 9am to 5pm, – you’ll most likely also find me working at 10pm also when it’s quiet and you really can get some “heavy” stuff done…
(Sidenote: It’s 7PM where I am now- but I just happened to “win” some .

2. You’re wearing pajamas, or are perhaps naked from the waist down.
No. However, it’s an interesting suggestion.
Even though I might do the laundry (see above), I still have other clothes to wear…
But I do like to – occasionally – wear clothes that won’t fit into the official dress-code of the company, – especially if it’s summer.

3. Home-based work is great because you get to spend more time with your family.
True, although I would rate it as “more quality time” rather than just “more time”.
On the other hand, I’m so lucky that the family respects when I’m working, we have a home-office setup (not just for me), it helps.

4. You must get so lonely.
No.

5. You must be involved in some kind of bleeding edge technology work to be able to work from home.
If administration of an IBM AS/400 box, a couple of Windows servers and a bunch of Unix/Linux boxes is considered “bleeding edge”: Yes.
Add to that “usual” stuff like coding Notes apps. for internal use and PHP/MySQL for our extranet, fixing network printers, adding/deleting user accounts and the ever timeconsuming email/IM flooding – hell yeah – this is bleeding edge !!
Might as well write an email to Sergey, Larry, Jobs or somebody else (sorry: not Gates/Ballmer) right away.

LoansEye

Its really a true fact that office environment affects a lot which indirectly change your habit and behaviour.

Lance

Most people think you work on porn sites. Just kidding. I like your myth busting, keep it up.

Jae Jans

How true…Working at home can be just as busy if not more than working in an office environment because you no longer have someone paying your checks for you, but you need to take action to get results and pay your own bills.

The good news is once you master it it becomes easier and much more rewarding.

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