People who work from home get used to hearing wisecracks and questions about what they do during the day. Even well-meaning friends and family members may be uncertain about the effort required to work from home and may inadvertently believe the myths regarding how easy it is. To help dispel some of the most commonly held beliefs, we’ve examined eight of the most popular myths:
You have so much free time.
It’s true. People who work from home generally have more free time than their traditional office-working counterparts, thanks in part to the short commute, easy access to snacks and lunch, and fewer distractions during the day. However, this free time is quickly used up by other tasks, so the idea of un-scheduled blocks of time scattered throughout the workday is simply false. Most work-at-home employees find themselves wishing for the weekend just as much as anyone else.
You never have to get dressed.
In theory, this is true as well. There is a certain amount of freedom in working at home that office workers cannot enjoy. Unfortunately, spending all day in one’s pajamas is a perk few work-at-home employees can appreciate. Most do take advantage of a relaxed dress code—skipping the business suit or high heels in favor of more comfortable daily office wear. However, studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between productivity and dress code. Those who want to maximize their productivity should get dressed every morning before starting work—displacing the pajamas for more functional clothes.
Your house is always clean.
If this were true, people would be flocking to become work-at-home employees. The sad reality is that despite the fact that someone works from home, his or her household chores often fall to the bottom of the ‘”to-do” list. At-home workers tend to forgo housecleaning while working and delay doing other chores until the weekend or after work hours. The result? The house looks much like it would if the employee worked outside the home—often, it looks worse.
You’re free to babysit/run an errand/help others at any moment.
A home-based worker’s schedule does have more flexibility than that of a traditional employee. You can schedule appointments during the day and take time to run errands or care for a sick child. This is an exception to a regular day, however, not the norm. In fact, many at-home employees are bound to working specific hours and have many of the same stipulations that office employees may have. So while a home-based worker may be able to help out in a pinch, expecting regular pick-up or drop-off service is unrealistic.
You can work whenever you want.
With a flexible schedule, it is easier to shift working hours to accommodate one’s lifestyle needs. But the work still has to be done, so taking time off during the day means working over the weekend or into the wee hours of the night. The flexibility of an at-home schedule does allow people to work the hours best suited to their needs, like when the kids are in school or before anyone else gets up. However, workers who don’t carefully manage their time can find themselves scrambling to finish work by deadlines.
You get to watch TV all day.
Getting caught up on Netflix viewing seems like a great perk to working at home. However, very few work-at-home employees would be successful if they spent their entire day watching television instead of getting their work done.
You get lonely with no one around.
There are times when the solitude of working at home can be overwhelming. (Those are the perfect moments to head to a favorite coffee shop with one’s laptop in tow.) For the majority of the time, though, at-home workers find that they get more work done without the distractions of co-workers, meetings, and other time-fillers that office workers have to endure.
You have great work/life balance.
This myth is perhaps the hardest to overcome. Many well-meaning friends assume that because someone works at home, that person has a handle on drawing the line between work and family life. The opposite is actually true. Most work-at-home individuals find themselves drawn to working whenever there is spare time—for example, when the kids go to bed or when their spouse heads to the gym—which causes work to spill over into non-working hours. Without the definitive end of day, when you punch out and drive home, the day never seems to end.
Combating the myths that surround work-at-home professionals requires more than words. It requires a daily commitment to being a professional entrepreneur. More effective than arguing with others is simply succeeding in spite of the naysayers and doubters. If you’re just starting out on the work-from-home path, it may be disheartening to constantly battle the perceptions of those around you, but your relentless drive to succeed will ultimately distill any doubts people may have about your work ethic.