The Great Work-at-Home Debate
A few years ago, I wrote this post about the reality of working from home. It was meant to be funny at the time, but then an interesting thing happened last fall. The publisher of a magazine I used to work for full time approached me and asked if I would help out on site when the current editor went on maternity leave for a few months. The idea of full-time pay sounded great, and once I figured out the best way to tackle after school childcare for my kids and did some work wardrobe shopping, I dove in.
The first week was a tough adjustment. Dropping my kids off at school and then joining the rest of the city in the morning commute was stressful, as was trying to leave work early enough to pick them up from the after school program before it closed. The next week, things changed after my husband’s position at work was eliminated. Suddenly, he was there to take the kids to school and pick them up in between the full-time job hunt. As I settled into the job, I looked forward to getting up every morning and putting on something besides my normal “work at home” clothes. I was surprised when people sought me out at work for my opinion. It was nice getting to go to meetings and learning more about the digital content side of publishing. I even got to discuss the editorial for one of the issues during a TV news segment. I felt a sense of purpose, especially at being able to bring home a steady paycheck when we really needed it.
This went on for almost three months. My husband found a great new job, and the editor came back from maternity leave. I was offered a permanent job, but it wasn’t at the pay scale I needed, so I negotiated responsibilities I could work on from home for a monthly paycheck. After a few weeks, it hit me. I was having a hard time transitioning back into working from home. The house seemed to quiet. I missed chatting with my co-workers. I missed having a reason to go out to lunch. I missed getting to be part of a team. I felt like a hypocrite. Working from home has always been a dream for me, but once I got to experience the other side of things I could see the benefits. When I work from home I tend to isolate myself too much and it can be difficult on the weeks when I don’t have meetings or interviews with people. I can now see both sides of the work at home/work outside of the home debate. I miss the people (although I have to admit I don’t miss the corporate red tape!), but the beauty of it is, I still work for the magazine as a contractor and can go in for the occasional meeting and to catch up with coworkers over lunch. For that, I'm fortunate.
Do you work outside of the home or are you self-employed? What do you think are the benefits of both?