For those of you who missed it, I have a sweet new gig working from home. It’s pretty much everything I’ve ever wanted in an arrangement, and I know it appears to be paradise to those who are looking in. My first couple of weeks, I couldn’t believe how awesome it felt. I get to set my own schedule. I get to work in my new “office,” otherwise known as my front porch. I get to spy on my neighbors… These past couple of weeks, though, I’ve been struck by how similar to working in an office working at home can be — in certain respects, anyway.
Last week, my babysitter had surgery. Juggling around that was a bit easier since nobody expected me in a desk chair by 8:30 a.m. I could keep my daughter home and not worry that an entire office full of people was wondering why I hadn’t made it in. But I still got pretty stressed having my schedule disrupted like that. I may work from home, but the work still needs to get done. My bosses rely on me to meet deadlines. Clients need to have their calls and concerns answered. And though I’m home with a child, I still need to appear professional. She can’t be crying in the background, and I can’t sound as though I’m covered in macaroni and cheese when the phone rings during her lunch hour.
This week, Little One is having separation anxiety issues. She does not want to be left at the sitter’s, and today I had to pry her off of me so I could go home and work. That guilty feeling I got as I drove back to the home office? It’s the same one I got when the office I drove to was downtown. Sure, I set my own schedule, but I prefer to get the bulk of my work done during the day – it’s when most of my clients do business. That means Little One needs to go to daycare three days a week. I’m flexible, but I’m not home with her full-time. I simply can’t be.
And then, yesterday, it was just all-around busy. I had a project to complete on a tight deadline, which meant I sat on my living room couch from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a half-hour break for lunch, then I got back on the computer at 8:30 p.m. and worked until after midnight. It felt a lot like one of those super-crazy days that occasionally hit at the ad agency. Not a bad thing at all, but certainly not the watching soaps and eating bon bons existence some may envision when they learn I don’t do the 9 to 5 commute.
Bottom line: work is work. Deadlines have to be met. Clients must be given world-class treatment. It doesn’t matter whether you’re at home or in an office building. If you love your job and you want to do it well, you experience many of the same pressures and stresses.
Of course, if you’re at home, you also get to enjoy your job from the comfort of your front porch.