Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Realities Of Work At Home Life

There are very few questions I cringe at when asked. At the top of my list is what I do for work. My aversion has nothing to do with discussing my work. It has everything to do with three words that are unavoidable at some point during the conversation. Work. At. Home. At that moment, the conversation is hijacked. Their interest in my work is no longer relevant. I can’t get a word in edgewise. From that point, until I can find an escape, my ears are assaulted with jaded misconceptions about how incredibly easy it must be to work at home.

I’ll agree. There are perks to working at home. My schedule is flexible. I don’t have to concern myself with commute time and traffic. My home isn’t left vacant for most of the day. However, those perks are worlds away from the myths that are often presented to me by the masses who assume I sit at my desk marveling at my array of nail lacquers, feet up, while playing endless games of Candy Crush.

That’s hardly the case. It’s easy to glorify working at home, but as one who’s done just that for almost a decade, there are the realities very few speak of…

1. There’s no escape. None. Despite all efforts, tech devices are not confined to the home office. They sneak into various rooms within the house. I have 5 devices I work from and they’re all scattered throughout the house. I’ve had meetings when prepping dinner. I’ve mastered the art of checking social media accounts I manage while folding laundry. And, when I do manage to catch a few hours of sleep, I tuck my tech under the pillow. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve drafted outlines and paragraphs moments before falling asleep.

2. Social Detox is not an option. Rummaging through social media networks ‘round the clock to find relevant content and inspiration always includes filtering through the virtual sludge. The other stuff. The stuff I'd rather not see or hear about. The stuff that contributes to the crumbling of humanity. The stuff that leaves me in dire need of a month-long escape to some WiFi-less remote island.

3. Disheveled appearance. My wardrobe has a lot to be desired. It’s all about comfort. I’m reminded of this when the FedEx guy tries to keep a poker face as I sign my name. Sloppy bun. Lounge pants. T-shirt. Flip flops. Twizzlers hanging from my mouth. My appearance often resembles that of a person who’s been on Netflix binge for several days.

4. Lack of socialization. Aside from running errands, I don't get out much. Planting myself amid a group of people to socialize is awkward. My spouse will often nudge me and say, “Talk. It’s okay. They don’t bite.” My response is always the same, “I can’t people today.”

5. Neighborly assumptions. For the longest time, after moving into our home four years ago, the neighbors questioned my existence. After making an appearance, and before they knew I worked at home, they assumed I was an unemployed hermit with a social disorder who was allergic to the sun.

6. The after hour perks. There are no after-hours cocktail and holiday party invites on my end. I improvise. Enough said.

7. No one visits. Despite the lawn signs and the flashing “Visitors Welcomed” sign hanging on the front door, no one shows up. People assume I’m always working. Technically, I am, but my schedule is flexible. Contact from the outside world is welcomed. The wine is chillin'. I've slathered on my favorite Sephora lip gloss. I'm somewhat presentable.

8. People assume you don’t have bad days. How can I? I work at home…! How could I possibly have a bad day! Speaking of my tribulations is often met with guffaws. Sigh.

9. A love affair with the mute button. Despite the greatest of efforts, background noise is inevitable. This poses a challenge during meetings. With 3 fur-kids at home, neighborhood kids and the occasional smoke alarm going off because I forget I have something on the stove, the mute button and I have a close relationship.

10. Expectations. Over the years, I’ve gotten better with saying no. I work at home, but that does not mean I can spend an entire afternoon baking cupcakes for a birthday party or attend every function. I have deadlines. Sleep is necessary. Adhering to my chaotic daily routine is crucial. Working at home does not translate to bottomless availability.

Despite the harsh realities of work at home life, I am grateful that I'm home with the kids. We wouldn't be able to have 3 kids if I didn't work at home. I wouldn't change a thing.

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