Working From Home Makes Me Feel Like I’m Getting Away With Something

Last summer, I moved from New York City to rural New England. In a change that was almost as dramatic, I went from working full-time in an office to full-time freelancing from home. I was terrified: Would I make enough money? Would the solitude drive me crazy? Was I organized enough to pull it off? Would I be bored, distracted, or lose all my connections? My fear was fueled by the internet, which bursts with terrifying work-from-home tales:

Working from home isn’t easy.”
I absolutely hate working from home.”
Working from home is a hell of a job.”
Working at Home Stressful for Many Women.”

More than six months in to this experiment, however, I’m calling it: Working from home is the sweetest deal around, and anyone who says otherwise is either crazy or a chronic complainer.

The schedule is humane and adult.

For my own sanity, and for the sake of synching my free time to my husband’s, I try to maintain a fairly regular schedule. But having no commute means I can get to work as soon as I wake up, usually around 7:30. That gives me a few hours of relative solitude before others are up and at their desks. On a normal day, that means I could wrap up by 3:30 or so, though often I tackle small tasks later in the afternoon, or even at night.

If I finish the day’s “must complete” list early and feel like my brain is running out of steam, I don’t have to pretend to be busy until 5 pm to impress myself. Last Friday we had a guest coming over for dinner, so I took an afternoon break to make a pineapple upside-down cake. I made up for it by working a few hours over the weekend.

The bottom line is that I don’t have to pretend that every single day of the week includes exactly eight full hours of labor. There are days I work much longer, and sometimes I work weekends, too. But if I have a light day, or a total brain meltdown, I can go for a walk, bake a cake, or read something non-work-related.

I set the dress code.

Most days, as you can guess from the photo above, I opt for a designer tanktop, a $6,000 skirt from the latest Prada runway show, and Manolo Blahniks. I spend at least an hour every morning giving my hair that perfect tousled look, and weekly manicures are a must. HAHAHA. My work uniform is jeans and a t-shirt, and I maintain a strict mandatory slipper policy. The truth is I sometimes miss getting to shop for cute work clothes, but my current uniform is cheaper and comfier. No complaints.

Chores don’t have to wait for the weekend.

It sounds so obvious, but it has blown me away how much easier it is to take care of a home when you’re there all day. I have a load of laundry in the drier right now, which I’ll fold and put away as soon as I get this post up, as a little break between tasks. Ground turkey is thawing in the fridge for dinner. I’ll unload the dishwasher and straighten up the kitchen after lunch. Just call me Susie Homemaker. (Actually, please do not do that.)

No meetings, no commute.

Enough said.

There are, of course, downsides to life as a work-from-home freelancer: No health insurance. (Thank goodness for marriage.) No guaranteed set monthly income. (Thank goodness for a lower cost of living.) No water-cooler gossip. (Thank goodness for Twitter.)

Another important caveat: I don’t have kids, which makes the work-from-home experience significantly less cluttered, if also less adorable.

But wrinkles aside, working from home is so wonderful overall that I never want to read another article or blog post complaining about it. Those of us who have the privilege of doing it have no right to lament our lot in life. If anything, we should be singing its praises, and trying to spread the gospel of our good fortune.

Because even though we know that “teleworking” is on the rise thanks to the recession and ever-improving technology, both workers and managers have been slow to get on board. In the latest example of skepticism, a new Canadian survey finds that 55% of workers but only a quarter of bosses felt that employees were more productive when working from home. I do feel more productive at home, though as a writer and editor, it’s hard to measure my exact output. But I can measure my job satisfaction, and in that category, it’s no contest.


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    • Tobi

      I’m probably in the minority, but I prefer going into the office.

      When I worked from home (freelancing) I loved it for the first 6-months, then found that it was difficult to stay motivated. I think that, for me, the dress code, the commute, the atmosphere, etc. of actually going into work is what sets the tone. I guess I found it hard to distinguish work time from lazy time when I was working from my own home.

      Of course, I think it depends upon the individual’s personality and I’m sure lots of people would LOVE to work from home, given the opportunity.

    • Kate

      Ruth! I am SO with you on this! I also moved from New York to New England last year, and I was terrified of the freelancing I planned to do until I found a “real” job. I was sure I’d probably end up working as a waitress to supplement my income. But it’s now a year later, and I’ve actually turned down a “real” job because I love this new freelance life so much. I get offered more work than I can handle, can travel whenever I want (editing done on the beach is greater than or equal to editing done at home…), and don’t have to deal with office politics. On the downside, I do miss paid holidays, sick days, a matching 401(k), and friends in the office. Oh, and having my kitchen in such close proximity is a little dangerous. But mostly, I consider myself incredibly lucky and enjoy myself every day!

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