What it means to work from home

Freelancer. Working on a per-project basis. Sole proprietor. Work-at-home (dad/mom/wife/husband/other noun).

When people find out I’m one of these, they usually say, “Sarap naman!” or “So pumipili ka lang ng mga project mo?” or ¬†“So I guess you have a lot of free time huh?”

It can be pretty infuriating when people say things like that. It’s like people assume I live a leisurely life, just because I work from home. In fact, people make a lot of assumptions. They think I can go anywhere I want. They think I’m free to meet up or go out at the drop of a hat. They think I stay up till dawn or stay in bed till noon.

Not really.

People choose to work freelance, work at home, or set up their own business for a variety of reasons. Maybe they don’t like the rigidity of a regular job, with a cubicle or a desk in an office, where you have to stay from 9am to 6pm. Maybe they can’t find a job that pays enough. Maybe they want to explore new options. Maybe they see opportunities worth pursuing. Maybe they have personal commitments that require time or travel.¬†Maybe they can’t afford to hire a yaya or help to stay at home with the kids or elderly parents.

Whatever the reason behind the decision, it’s never made lightly. We all have bills to pay, trips we want to take, mouths to feed. The choice to leave behind a steady paycheck and benefits like health insurance is pretty scary. The prospect of inconsistent income, of lean months and times of plenty, is unnerving and stressful to say the least. Sometimes it causes havoc on our peace of mind, on our health, on our relationships.

In addition to distress suffered by our bank accounts, there’s also the fact that people who work at home get pretty swamped with household concerns! The phone rings off the hook with credit card companies reminding us about payments, the cable company offering a new service, callers looking for George or Inday even after we’ve told them for the nth time that this is a residence, not Trans Something Holdings Company. Someone rings the bell at the gate, and it’s the water delivery guy or a courier delivering a package or bills. We need to bring the shoes and bags to the repair shop. We need to go to the bank, then get groceries. We need to feed the cats or the dogs. The kids need these art supplies for a school project. Somebody’s sick. The repair man is here to check the washing machine. We need to change the sheets. We need to pick up the dry-cleaning. Dirty clothes need washing, and clean clothes need folding and ironing and where is that one sock? The garbage truck arrives and we haven’t taken the trash out yet. Oh and there’s a water shortage so we need to stock up. We need to make dinner. Wait, did we even have lunch?

After all of that, or between some of those tasks, we have to find time to sit at the desk, so we can do the work that actually pays.

So next time you meet someone who works at home, be considerate of that person’s time and energy, and remember that they work just as hard as someone with a regular job.

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