Friday, July 6, 2012

Is the whole work from home thing so great?

Does working from home provide you extra freedom?

Maybe, for now, yes, but forever? I don't know.

For me right now I have the golden ticket for our family. Part time (decent) work that provides flexibility to work in the office or at home depending what is happening everywhere else.

It's a give and take situation, they give me the flexibility I need and in return, when I am asked if I can do a bit extra I do my best to ensure I can (like 7am meetings!)

But working from home isn't everything. It means you can see the clothes that need hanging out, the dishwasher may need unpacking and in school holiday times there are little people who need lunch and no matter how good they are behaving for the entire day, when the phone rings they are likely to call for you.

That's just parenting, working parenting, I can deal with that, and those days are few once the school year starts (thank you creche for never taking holidays).

What I miss is the lunch and the chatter.

Working in an office there is always a cafe (or hundred) to order lunch from and there are usually people to eat it with. 

There is news of workmates and other projects, successes and failures. Sometimes there is boring office politics but I am pretty good at keeping out of that most days. There is also the sharing of work skills. If you can't get something to work maybe someone else knows another way or has a better idea. 

But then again, you can't go to work with your slippers on or sneak back down to school to see an award being given at assembly. 

Working from home can mean catching up with emails and reading at night when the kids are in bed to ensure you don't miss other things during the day.

For me, working from home is a great solution to many of the requirements we need, but I don't know if I will want it forever (perhaps I will). I do know that I will want the flexibility to do a bit of everything, work from home, work in the office and be flexible enough to meet the needs of my girls. 

Is there ever the perfect happily ever after job? If you are a working parent are you a work at home fan or an office lover?


  1. I'm a work from home mum and I agree that I miss the chat. I DO take myself to a local cafe to work most days for at least an hour or so - the emails, admin catch up etc. I find that if I'm home I get distracted by "home work" quite easily. Wouldn't have it any other way - just so easy with the kids. I force myself to do PD and network stuff or I'd be in a vacuum

    1. Hi Alli, I really think I might have to start this, even just to pop out for 45 minutes to have a snack.

    2. I go straight after school drop off. Home by 11 for the stuff that requires more quiet.

  2. I've had to 'work' really hard at sorting this out.

    For me, working from home has at times meant feeling like I'm constantly saying no, not now, I'm trying to work, leave me alone... etc. But when I did a stint in the office for a few months last year, I hated it with an absolute passion. I'm not sure there's a perfect solution to wanting/needing to work when you have kids - it's just finding what works better than another option.

    Mostly, working from home means a better life for me. I work quickly so rather than being in an office for a set period of time I can just get something done and then get back to my life. I can go for a walk when I need space, get some washing on, whatever, and also get a decent amount of work done. It's a bit easier as A gets older - but of course that's all about to change with the bub arriving soon!

    I can't see myself ever being in an office job again, I really can't.

    1. That's great Megan, if the office is not for you (and if the office is a work station in a sea of stations it isn't for me anymore either).

      I guess it can depend on what the office is like. Maybe I am not good at being on my own too much!

  3. I made the decision to pursue my own interests working from home so that I could be flexible and work around the kids. I realised I don't always get satisfaction working for an employer, especially when they don't listen to their staff! I miss the social aspect, but when I feel lonely or the washing pile is staring at me too much, I just move my 'office' to the closest cafe!

    1. Working for the wrong employer is annoying no matter what. I have been very lucky that my last few have been pretty good (except for the one that was quite bad!).

      Also, it seems the cafe needs to become more of a part of my working from home life.

  4. Having recently moved from working from home, to working in the city (30 hrs a week, v.flexible) in an office (with the cafes and the chatter) I know which one I hands down prefer. I lvoe driving in, alone, love working, love lunches, love coming home.

    BUT, I have no regrets at working from home. My littlies benefited from all the hours we all rubbed along together at home. It has all worked out well. I feel very lucky. (Now Lexie is at school, I am FREE!)


  5. I don't think it's the working from HOME bit I like as much as it's the having total flexibility. I would happily go in to the office every day if I had the freedom to choose when I arrived, when I left, when I wanted to work from somewhere else, whether I needed to duck out and go to my kid's morning tea or whatever - and be held completely accountable for getting my work done or not, so if the work is done, I am done.

    I think the notion of "bums on seats" is dated and unproductive. I know I get a hell of a lot more done when I'm not roped to my desk all day. And I hardly ever literally work from home, I much prefer cafes or even libraries. Hopefully in the not too distant future I can move to full time freelancing, and if that happens I'll look into a hot desk, so I can be around others, but don't HAVE to be, and can still dictate my own workload and working day.

    A couple of years ago I negotiated to work 3 full days and 2 half days from home, with the other 2 half days in the office. It was a very generous offer by the organisation, and I was very grateful, but because they still had the "bums on seats" attitude, I spent those 2 half days in the office justifying what I had been doing the other 3 days. It was incredibly stressful!

    My parents are both self employed, and my dad is just like me - he's very extroverted but likes/needs the flexibility, so he spends most of his time working in cafes, food courts and around (but not necessarily "with") other people.

  6. I have the best of both worlds. I can work from home whenever I don't need to be in the office. Some times it's 1 day a week. Some times it's 5! People are amazed I can do a 6am concall and an 11pm concall on the same day - but that just mean I have the daytime to run around with kids. Perfect for a working mum :)

  7. I work away from home, I have done since my youngest was 2. My husband has spent most of that time working from home.
    For us as a family it works. When the children were younger they still went to childcare when Hubby & I were both at work (I worked 4 days a week.)
    When they were both school age, we used after school care as well and I picked them up on my way home. But it meant when we got there food was on the table and ready to go.
    Many of my husband's clients are interstate or overseas, so sometimes I think he misses that social interaction. I know if it was me I would. But for us it is what works best.
    My job is not one I can do from home, but his is. It means we both get to spend time looking after and caring for the children, and we both get time being professional people away from the demands of home.
    He has a office separate from the main house, which really helps, it means he can't see the mess in the kitchen or the washing piles (we're both neat freaks) and that helps. He used to have an "office" in our walk in wardrobe, that was a little harder for him and us. But the kids both learnt early on that when dad was at the computer he was working and to leave him alone.
    For us it's the flexibility that we love and have come to rely on. I just wish somedays I could be the one at school assembly for special presentations... but at least one of us is there.

  8. Having done both I'll take the work from home flexibility any day. School holidays used to be stressful and expensive (vacation care); leaving at 3 was frowned upon by those who hadn't seen you arrive at 7 in the morning. And don't get me started on what happens when kids are sick or having a performance on at school!

  9. I don't work from home, but love the idea - predominantly for the notion of NOT dealing with public transport each day (not to mention the hour commute each way (though I'm only 4km from the city in Brissy!) and the not having to decide what to wear each day!

    The downside for me would be the temptation to eat junk food all day!


  10. Flexibility. A little of both. I miss the office on home days, and I miss home on office days. The grass is always greener (and all that jazz)!

  11. I love my job work 9-3pm no school holidays, or shearing or harvest whenthe farm needs all hands on deck!! .it still gives me time to do the kids running to footy and netball , pony club.... and see the kids at sports days! feel that kids need parents when they get home from school.

  12. I'm part time - home and work too, and yep I totally understand what you mean. My time flies and I haven't even done the things I wanted to do. Sometimes being in the office, seems calmer for me:)

  13. I ran my own design business for over a decade, from home, it was brilliant, as my husband is so often away, i am the only household chore doer (now the children are older they help) so i would slot the gym & housework in between work. When you work creatively, it's different, you need breaks & inspiration, not just a computer screen or sewing machine, some of my BEST ideas have come at the clothes line. Office chat - that is what blogs are for, we're your work colleagues!!
    I've just stepped back from it all now, to focus on parenting full time & forever more (now my children are in year 3 to 8) & taking over my evenings too, when i used to sew. Some of the best times of my life were before school, when i had 4 little children running around & orders to fill, i had my little income & no need for childcare. Preschool was the introduction to life at home, alone, then pow, suddenly the 4th is out for the day & i'm in the dead silence, i was more productive of course, but their school hours ruled my day. It all worked, no matter what state or territory i was living in. Have to say, after parenting for 13 years, i'm the happiest i've ever been without the pressure. Love Posie

  14. Just reading some of the comments - being available for your children (in my situation, with a husband living interstate or overseas in war zones) - it would be impossible for me to work in my actual Uni-degree-industry . . . pharmacology. You can't leave drugs boiling over the bunsen burner & duck out to assembly. I've never had to use child care or vacation care, they love me being home, 100% for them, as i am their only constant, happy to be there too.
    All i can say is once children hit high school, it is so busy, i have a bright happy one but if she had issues with other girls, that could be a huge source of stress & sap all the hours in the day. So far we're very lucky & bully free. Love Posie


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