From an outside perspective, the rising trend of folks who work from home (telecommuters, freelancers, etc.) is pretty exciting. What could be better than skipping the commute to the office every day, getting to stay in comfy house-clothes, and not having to deal with difficult coworkers and bosses on a daily basis? It’s true that there are some really wonderful benefits of working from home, but there are a lot of challenges that come with it as well. So, if you have a close relationship with someone who telecommutes, here are a few things they probably wish you knew.
- They’re not as flexible as they might seem to be.
It’s understandable that some people who don’t work from home think that telecommuters have awesomely flexible schedules. But, this is a huge misunderstanding. Just because a remote worker doesn’t have to report to an office at a certain time, doesn’t mean they don’t have just as many appointments to keep and deadlines to meet as anyone else. Telecommuters still have to do certain things at certain times, often just as much as they did when they worked out of the home. As a loved one, you can support your pal by not attempting to lean on flexibility that isn’t really there (e.g., they probably aren’t able to pick up the dry-cleaning any easier than you are).
- They need to get out once in a while.
Remember when you were in college and you’d have a long day of hitting the books? Maybe you spent hours at the library, or just lost yourself in reading and writing in your dorm room as a long day faded into an even longer night. Remember how that time, all alone, working hard, made you feel? Probably a little foggy, a little incapable of effective communication, maybe even a little bonkers? Well, that’s how your remote-worker pal feels at the end of most days.
Working alone, day after day, isn’t easy. So, just as you like to get home at the end of a long day and relax, your work-from-home buddy might need to do the opposite and get out of the house after a long workday. After so much quiet time alone and toiling away, getting out and about and interacting with real, live human beings becomes pretty important. They might choose to pick up that dry-cleaning during the day after all, as long as you don’t treat it like their job. They’d definitely appreciate making some fun plans with you for after work. They have to get out!
When you get up and head into the office every day, the idea of not having to do that can sound pretty spectacular. But, it’s a mistake to picture your telecommuting buddy in some fantasy world of fuzzy slippers and leisurely gazes out the backdoor over brimming cups of homemade coffee. Actually, working from home is really hard work, and it takes a lot of discipline. It’s not the kind of thing that works for everyone. It’s an arrangement that demands organization, self-motivation, and oodles of independence. Even when one possesses those traits, exercising them on a daily basis isn’t always easy. It helps to have loved ones who understand that remote workers still work just as hard as everyone else, even though they don’t go into an office Monday through Friday.
- They have to be really protective of their time and space to make it all work.
Folks who work from home have to manage their own schedules in a different way than others do. As a result, they might come off as a little too overly protective of their time. Not everyone understands what it takes to work from home, so being on guard becomes kind of essential. Otherwise, they’d be watching their neighbor’s baby, walking their aunt’s dogs, and just generally accommodating others’ requests for a large part of the day, without ever actually finding the time to get their work done. So, please understand that if people who work from home feel compelled to be a little extra protective of their time and space during the day, it’s simply because they have to be.
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