Working from home is becoming far more common in Australia, so why are we viewed as if we are unemployed, and thusly have endless time for you?
Hundreds of thousands of Australians work from home, or run small businesses from home. It may be well over a million. The reasons people work from home vary from person to person, but the factors are often due to: increasing costs of childcare; a need for flexible hours that work in with family; low overheads; peak hour commuting; the job simply allows for it or difficulty finding employment due to lack of skills, disability or hours of availability.
For myself, I merged from working shift work as a nurse, to launching and running my own business from home as well as doing the “admin” for my husband’s business (which includes searching under his car seats with a torch for receipts to pass onto the accountant), plus growing our food and parenting. Best of all for me it not only means that I get to do what I love, but it has taken the stress out of trying to juggle shift work with after school care, homework, dinner, activities etc, because while we have the moral support of our family, the practical support is not there, and there is no one else to fall back on if we get caught up at work, or one of the kids is sick etc.
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There are some things that really annoy me as someone who works from home, which I need to get off my chest. First, just because someone works from home, it does not mean they are doing nothing and therefore are always free. You should not just “pop in” with the assumption that the at-home-worker has free time to entertain you with witty conversation, beverages and food. There may not be a boss glaring over my shoulder, but I still have deadlines and things that just have to get done before school pick up.
Perhaps the pièce de résistance of rudeness is when people start a sentence with “well, you don’t really work…” With that pre-text, my perceived “free time” is rationed out or advertised by insensitive friends and relos to any mutual acquaintance who needs a hand with something. Offended is an understatement. They are lucky I have self-control, otherwise they would be wearing my handprint.
It’s worth remembering that many great entrepreneurs, inventors and business people made their debut in a home office or converted garage.
Working from home, or running a business from home, isn’t for everyone. You need to be disciplined, self-motivated and okay with your own company. The lines between work time and family time are often intermingled, but that’s part of what makes it work, as it provides the flexibility of how and when time is allocated.
While people who work in the “real world” may mock those of us who work from home, it’s worth remembering that many great entrepreneurs, inventors and business people made their debut in a home office or converted garage. Perhaps the most famous example of all is of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak who started manufacturing Apple computers from Job’s parent’s garage – so take that, naysayers.
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It’s 11:30pm as I’m writing this and I must say I feel much better for getting this out onto paper. Time for bed, and you can be sure I will dream sweetly knowing that I don’t have to get up at 5:30 for the commute.