I could tell these people clearly thought working from home wasn't working at all, but rather like taking a mental health day, every day. Which, oh my God, I want to do that!
But that’s not what I do when I work from home.
Another favorite reaction was the crooked smile and nod of the head, as if to say, “You sly devil, you...tricking your employer into letting you work from home.”
Again, the assumption being that “working from home” was some sort of code phrase for “Downton Abbey marathon.”
And every now and then, I came across someone who actually got it. They asked me what I did, who I worked for, and basically treated me as though I was a regular professional with a real job.
"A real job—that is the rather boring truth of my telecommuting life."
I am a full-time telecommuter, I work from home Monday through Friday, all year long, and it’s a real job.
The salacious reality about what I really do when I work from home is that I…work.
As the Director of Online Content for the job search site FlexJobs, I am responsible for managing our job search blog and a team of writers, writing my own content, editing, pitching, drafting, revising, and so on. I’m afraid that's the awful truth. My days are filled with emails, documents, spreadsheets, conference calls, and a whole lot of work.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s work that I thoroughly enjoy. I've gone so far as to call it my dream job. But work is work.
"Now, working from home isn't all business. There are definitely some perks of which I take full advantage."
My professional wardrobe is practically nil at this point. I last bought a suit in 2008. The only time I've been to the dry cleaner this year is to pick up a dress I wore to a wedding.
I can also set my own schedule, which is not always the case when you work from home, but it’s been especially helpful over the last nine months as I get used to being a new mom and a working mom. Most of the time, I work regular business hours during the day, but every now and then I'll shift some of my time to evenings or weekends. And my coworkers can set their own schedules too.
Imagine adults being trusted to manage their time and productivity. The nerve!
"How is it that our company doesn't topple over like the last spin in a game of “Twister” from all this flexibility?"
Another perk...instead of commuting to work, which used to consist of taking a bus or train, or sitting in traffic for about 30 minutes each way, I spend that time with my nine-month-old son.
In the morning, we have deep conversations consisting of “gaga” and “baba,” his two favorite subjects at the moment. And instead of running around the house trying to get ready to go to work while getting him ready to go to daycare, we just enjoy each other's company.
After I walk my son to daycare, which is only a mile down the road, the dog (my very best coworker in the history of coworkers) and I head back to the home office for a day of work.
At the moment, I'm enjoying one of the other perks of working from home: working outside when the weather permits.
While the guest bedroom is my headquarters, the backyard provides an excellent satellite office with decent Wi-Fi reception and amazing views.
But while working from the picnic table on a 70-degree sunny day in Dallas is still working, sometimes it does feel like I'm getting away with something.
"And really, that's the crux of the people’s skepticism, isn't it?
When people hear I work from home,
they think I must be getting away with something."
After all, my manager can't actually see me working, so how can I prove that I am? It's kind of like asking if a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, will it still be a productive employee? Okay, maybe all the fresh air I'm able to get by working from my backyard is going to my head.
As somebody who is not only a telecommuter, but also manages a team of seven telecommuters, I can tell you from both perspectives that, yes, people who work from home are working.
How do I know? Because I'm reviewing the content that my team writes every single day. Because when I ask them to brainstorm ideas for new projects or topics, they come back with fantastic options. Because when we meet during our weekly conference call, they all have interesting things to add and exciting things to talk about. And because, when I look at the numbers (and numbers don't lie do they?), I can see that we are a productive telecommuting team.
So the next time you hear about somebody working from home, instead of giving them a skeptical look, or nodding like you know they’re getting away with something, ask them what they do. And how they like their job, and, you know, treat them like a regular professional.
"And you might want to ask them how they found that work-from-home job, because telecommuting is a pretty great way to work."
by Brie Reynolds
I’m Brie Reynolds and I’m the Director of Online Content for the job search website FlexJobs. Professionals and job seekers come to our site because they want to find a more flexible job, like one that offers telecommuting, flexible schedules, part-time options, or freelance work. My team and I offer job search advice on the FlexJobs blog.