How to make people understand working from home…is still work.
Random Person: “Oh man, I can’t believe it’s already Sunday.”
Me: “I know! The weekends always go by so fast.”
Random Person: “Please. It’s not like you have to go anywhere tomorrow, you work from home. You can stay in bed all day!”
It’s only been about a year since I started working from home, but in that time, I have noticed a few things about how people react to this information. If you work from home, I am sure you know what I am talking about. Here are some key points to recognize as someone who has been belittled for working from home.
A freelancer or entrepreneur, who chooses to be lazy will MAKE LESS MONEY — if any at all. A freelancer or entrepreneur who chooses to be motivated, organized, and productive, will MAKE MORE MONEY. This might be the key idea to explain to those who question what you are doing. Sure, I could lay on the couch, but I won’t make any money that day.
There are also people who work from home for a company, and therefore still have set working hours. It might be harder to find ways to slack off in an office, but if you work from home and report to a boss, they will still ultimately see what you do or do not accomplish.
That is the reality.
What am I getting at here? Working from home doesn’t make a person lazy, their work ethic does. It is unfair for people to assume that you are lazy, or just have it easy, because you work from home.
Just like in an office, a deadline is a deadline. If you have a deadline while working from home, you might just work through lunch, dinner, and most of your night’s sleep. It’s not for everyone, some people will be more productive working from home, and some people won’t.
“Okay, but there are some major perks to working from home.” True! I will not pretend like my life is horrible because of my work. That would be wrong, as I sit here on my laptop in the sun, on a beautiful day, and type this.
Don’t try to convince people you have it ‘bad’. Everyone deserves to love their job. The joys of working from home are why many put in the extra time so they can keep doing it! When someone belittles working from home, it makes those who do feel like they are being called lazy and ‘less than’. And we don’t like it!
What to do:
Let’s go through some things people might say when the topic of working from home comes up. We can use some of the ideas above to answer these misguided statements.
“I wish I could work from home, my house would be so much cleaner.”
If I am cleaning my house, I am not getting paid. I only get paid for when I am actually working.
A nice way of phrasing this: “I wish that were the case! But every minute I spend doing a household chore, I am not earning. If only I had more hands maybe I could do both!”
“You can sleep till noon!”
Yes you could sleep till noon, but that might mean you have to work till midnight. Or perhaps your clients are in a different time zone so you were up very late talking to them the night before. Either way, let’s opt for simple explanation that gently reminds people you have work to do.
“Haha, I wonder what my clients would think if I didn’t respond to them until noon every day?”
“I have clients in ____ so I was up till ____ last week with them. So yeah, I slept till noon the next day! Then I had to run around to make up for the time I lost.”
My all-time favorite: “You’re home all day, could you ______ for me?”
The array of things you could insert into that sentence is endless. And you know what? Sometimes I CAN do something during the day for someone if it’s deemed important. BUT nobody should assume this is the case. For example, taking someone to the dentist because they are having their wisdom teeth out. If you give me enough notice, I could probably do that for you. I can bring my laptop and work in the waiting room.
Not everyone who works from home has this luxury. This is what you can point out to people, just like with our other examples.
“Sorry, I have a conference call at ____.”
“I have a deadline to meet tonight.”
Hopefully this will help that person realize you are working while you’re home all day. Just saying “I have to work” might not be enough if that person doesn’t know what “work” means for you.
Try being specific with people and give them the chance to understand. I have found most of my family and friends end up being interested in learning more about what I am working on.
Some people might be making these uncomfortable statements to you because they are just difficult. Dealing with difficult people is its own topic. For the sake of this article, avoid the subject with them at all costs. Don’t engage. Ask them a question about their life. If someone wants to believe that working from home is people being lazy, they will be able to find or make up reasons.
Google “working from home is killing business” you will find something to support that idea.
Google “working from home increases productivity and makes businesses more successful” you will also find something to support this idea.
I am going to be an optimist and say that most people don’t realize how they are making you feel when they say these things. They may really respect you and are just making an innocent joke, so laugh! They think they are saying “look how lucky you are!”. Handling it in a way that makes it clear what they are saying isn’t the reality, without biting their head off, is possible and will lead you both to happier place.
Good luck out there!
Do you have another strategy for dealing with this issue? Share it with everyone in the comments!