Working at Home Exposed.

by Sara Fisher 


Do you really “work” when you’re at home?



Every now and again I’ll stay back from the office and work from my house. Er, every now and again I’ll stay back from the office and “work” from my house. I say “work” because we all know that when you tell your boss you’re going to work from home, what you really are saying is: “I need some time to go get my nails done, run to the grocery store and organize my file cabinets.”



It doesn’t mean you’re actually going to sit behind your desk all day doing things to advance your career. You’re blatantly lying if you say you don’t agree with me.



Due to an unforeseen child care issue, I’ve had to work from home quite a bit over the past few weeks. Yes, I got my projects done (most of the time). Yes, I participated in umpteen conference calls. But behind the scenes of PowerPoint and Outlook, I was able to:



- Find a new nanny
- Pack for various weekend trips I was taking with my family
- Hit up Target and the dry cleaners before 9 am.



I was able to do things I wouldn’t have been able to had I been shackled to my desk all day. Let’s face it, face time is overrated. For instance, when I was pregnant and on bed rest “working from home,” I had no problem working four hours straight in order to make my two o’clock naptime. Or take conference calls early in the morning or late at night so that I could go to the mall during off hours.



Yes, working from home does have its benefits. I know moms who work at home occasionally so that they can be a part of their kid’s daily activities (read: PTA. Suckers.) Some mothers I’ve talked to use the occasional working from home excuse to spy on their nannies (ok, that was me.) I’d venture to say that a lot of mothers would admit to working at home solely because it allows them the opportunity to take a long, hot shower, blow dry their hair in peace and still have an excuse to wear sweats all day. Clean sweats, that is. (Remember, you’ve actually showered.)



Best perk of working at home? No one on the other end of those pesky conference calls cares if you’ve brushed your teeth or not.



On the flipside, working from home does have its disadvantages. For one, it’s nearly impossible to work at home on a nice, sunny day. One should really save their work at home opportunities for the grey miserable days where you wouldn’t want to go outside anyway. There’s really nothing worse than actually having to work when it’s gorgeous outside and all you see from your home office window is a nanny pushing a your stroller down the sidewalk.



Also, working from home dilutes how excited your child is to see you at the end of the day. One of the biggest thrills I get is when I walk in the door after a long day at the office and my son runs to hug me. It’s not quite the same when you’re just sauntering downstairs at 3 pm. And your kid just saw you 15 minutes ago.



When I work at home I get much more interuptions from office mates!


Your son is very young - they need us so much more! I am now finally able to really start 'working' from home, again, and my daughter is 2. Owning a company I never left the house, but I did almost have to take time off! Sole caregivers already have a full-time job! I didn't want a nanny, but now that she's older I have no problem sending her to 1/2 day daycare.


Here's my breakdown of my "work at home" day: get up, get kids on the bus (no different than regular work day), work out at the gym (best part of the day), run home, jump on the computer, work through lunch and through the afternoon (still sweaty after working out; quick stop to throw in laundry), pick up the kids (still with my workout clothes on), make dinner, go back on the computer...and finally, after dinner, take a shower! My days working from home are incredibly productive, and incredibly frustrating because I always desperately wish to have the time to do what I want (shopping, lunch dates with friend, home improvements, etc.), not what I HAVE to do (my husband is the skeptical one in all of this)! But I wouldn't give up my days home alone for anything -- I love the peace and quiet of an empty house and no interruptions. Do I schedule my school volunteer time and dentist appointments for my day home? Of course, but that's just good time management. If I were in the city (where I work), the travel time back and forth would eat up a huge chunk of time. Hey moms...we deserve to do what works best for each one of us -- w/no guilt at all (even about being sweaty)!


I telecommute one day per week and love it. Yes, it's true there are less distractions at home than I have in my open cube environment. But, do I get some laundry done while at home? Organize files? You bet! Could I work from home with the kids there? No way!! It's honestly nice to be in the house with no kids and no one else bothering me. I can wake up at the same time I would normally get up, but instead of getting ready and spending 40 minutes in a car, I put on my sweats and turn on the computer. I work earlier when I stay home, but I also work later because I weave other activities into my day. (read haircut appointment; trip to Target; etc.) The bottomline is this: we all know what we have to accomplish to get our jobs done and keep our bosses happy. If we can do all that and get ahead of the laundry or millions of errands we always have to run, we all win!!

MichiganMom (not verified)

It's a joke around our office when someone is "working from home". My own boss told me when I was pregnant with my first that I could "work from home" one or two days a week. I thought, wow, that's great, I'll get so much done. Until my son was born. I found it virtually impossible to do any work at home - at least while he was awake. Then my boss clarified that as long as I took my work cell phone with me when I left the house to run errands, that was fine and still considered "working at home". So what it really amounted to was working extra hard when I was in the office to meet deadlines. The days I was at home, I'd stay up after my son went to bed and got up early before he did and did all my work so I could spend the rest of the time with him. I don't know how much of a benefit it really is, but I am glad to be able to spend more time home with him and not out fighting rush hour 5 days a week!


i agree with sofiaone -- i get done everything i need to get done, but if i'm doing it at home, i can do it more efficiently by starting earlier, avoiding office chit-chat and other distractions and being able to be much more focused. in fact, there are some tasks that are better done at home because i don't have the interruptions that are unavoidable when you're in the office.


I don't quite agree. I work harder when at home but finally have time in between to take of my stuff whereas when I am in the office, I spend probably less time working and more time taking long lunches with colleagues and socializing around the watercooler. In a condensed time period from home, I get more accomplished. I think it is unfair to say that moms working from home work less than those of us that go into the office. We are better at time management and working from home allows us to be there socializing with our child/ren instead of with colleagues. I personally save over 3 hours in commute time by workinng at home. I get up early to work, work during nap times and evening hours. My lunches are a quick sandwich during calls. I am surprised at the responses here since most of my mom friends who work as I do (Full time with part or majority of our hours from home) all find ourselves working harder and more hours to make up time and to make sure we are not viewed as slackers. Our work always gets done and their are fewer distractions and interruptions (people always would walk into my office with questions).


This is hilarious and totally true! It's impossible to get it all done without wigging out. So, if you can do it, work from home once in a while and get your sanity back.


Somehow, whenever I plan to do stuff at home, I end up with a sick kid.


OK. I'll admit it. I schedule days to "work from home" when I plan to volunteer in the classroom, or I need the plumber to come because the kids have splashed so much bathwater out of the tub and on to the floor that it is leaking into the kitchen downstairs. But in defense of those of us that do plan these days to get some domestic chores taken care of, I often STILL get as much if not more done than when I am in the office. I get started earlier -- there are less distractions and the fear that someone will think I am slacking off motivates me to be extra productive. Note: I said often, not always. Sometimes I watch back to back episodes of what I TiVO'd the night before while eating a big ole bowl of ice cream. We all deserve a break every now and then.