I was chatting to an office worker friend of mine yesterday and it started coming across that she was actually quite sorely jealous of me both as a happily married woman (she is going through a divorce) and as a work at home mom. She seemed to think that I spend all day playing with my children. Now one of the reasons this attitude irritates me highly is that I know I spend more time working now than I ever did at any office.
Marriage aside, I know many if not all work at home moms have come across this attitude during their work at home careers. Nonetheless, I was quite bemused by my friend’s attitude. Now I have a number of unpleasant, stressful issues at the moment myself that I am trying to resolve, but it would never ever cross my mind to say to someone “my problems are greater than yours”. I believe that all problems are relative and everybody has different things to cope with. Nobody can judge another’s problems until they’ve walked a mile inthat person’s shoes.
But after this friend had almost trivialised what I was saying, the age old “you’re so lucky, you get to spend time with your children”, came up.
Undeniably there are advantages to working from home, and it’s a choice that I made after due consideration. But I have yet to have one successful work at home mom tell me that she is regularly able to spend more time or even quality time with her children. I’m also yet to encounter the successful work at homer who sleeps until 11 am, gets out of bed at 12 and may put in a few hours of work in the afternoon. If you work from home and are successful at it, you’re pulling 12 and 13 hour days regularly, and 18 hour days when the need arises. And weekends and public holidays – what are those? I work in South Africa for international clients. They don’t have the same public holidays as us and don’t care if we are having a public holiday. Two weeks leave? What’s that? If I want time off I have to arrange it weeks in advance and then it’s not always possible as my clients actually need me to work – they don’t have stopgap people who can pick up the fall. And there’s no such thing as paid leave. We get burnout, we get repetitive stress injuries and frozen shoulders – and we can’t take time off to recover. I’m not denying that office work is also very hard or that there are some undeniable advantages in what we do – we don’t commute or pay for childcare. But there are advantages in office work too. You have a regular salary and you have a knock off time. I’m not complaining about it – those of us who choose to work from home know all this before we begin. But weigh up the pros and cons of what you want to do – and give us work at homers our dues.
Office workers, if you want to work from home because you want to spend more time with your kids or think that it’s going to give you more freedom, then in my opinion transcription and virtual assistance are not the fields for you – and neither, probably, is any work from home job. If however, you want to work from home because you are entrepreneurial, like to type and are customer driven, and are prepared to put in the hours, then yes I’d recommend it.