Updated: Oct 18, 2018
Working from home is the dream, right? Tea on tap, cosy sofa for taking a quick 5 and sneaking in housework when you're not busy. The concept really does seem like it offers a great balance of work and life...but is that a reality?
I have worked from home for six years or so, half of that time I didn't have kids, and the other half I have been a mum so I've seen a lot of the so called 'balance'.
Freedom to work from home, from the garden, from the beach, from the train...
I'm sat here in my garden on an unseasonably warm October day writing this. Mini beast one is at school, and mini beast two is having his nap (thank goodness). I have an hour at least to tick things off my to-do list, and lapping up the autumn sunshine as I do it is a blessing. I work from where ever I fancy, since all I need is laptop and wifi connection. I'm most often found in the 'coffice' (coffee shop office), because I like the bustle of people around me but I have two work stations set up at home; an area just with my desk and a bureau in the living room. The idea was that I could work in the living room whilst the youngest played, however, there's not much reality to that since he spots that my attention is on something and he wants to see what I'm doing.
I choose my hours
Obviously I don't have to keep to office hours, since I dictate my schedule. I work hours here and there when I have my youngest, and for a couple of hours each night. I also have two full days where both are in childcare/school. It wouldn't suit every job, but so far, I do okay. I certainly have trickier times where client work has a deadline, or an important call has to be made and I have two tantruming kids but usually bribes/tablet time/running away to the bathroom helps. I work part time and a bit, and I think that's the important thing here. I couldn't do this 9 - 5 without more childcare, which to me defeats the object slightly. I love being my own boss, but it's the flexibility to be there for school runs/plays/dr's appointments/sick days that drives me to make it work.
I work with people I like
I like most people, which is fortunate! But if I 'gel' with a potential client, I don't have to work with them. I'm a big believer in gut instinct, and since I'm only accountable to me, I get to trust mine.
I don't really have balance. If I'm at the park with the kids and a client calls, then chances are I'll answer. Just because I don't keep office hours, doesn't mean they don't. I'm lucky in that lots of my clients are also self-employed and burn the midnight oil too, but some I have to able to deal with during the weekdays, and that can lead to a degree of stress (I've had to run around the house to get away from tantruming toddlers whilst maintaining professional composure).
Working from the house has its drawbacks - you can go days without human interaction. There have been times that I've welcoming PPI cold calls just so I can have a chat! I use coffee shops to get a bit of liveliness to my week, but that can get expensive. Belonging to a networking group is a good way to get out of the house, and to make new contacts. I call in on a local business friend if I have a spare hour, that way I get out of the house and I might even get new business from it!