The Great Work-at-Home Debate

Wednesday, April 20, 2016
A photo posted by rlroberson (@rlroberson) on

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?

Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and editor who also works as a Blog Tour Manager for WOW! Women on Writing. She is currently seeking a few more reviewers for the Incarnation blog tour that launches next month. Learn more about the book here.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--You LIKE meetings? I've got meetings for you. I have data team meetings. I have staff meetings. I have PBIS Positive Behavior Incentive System) meetings. I have BIC (Building Improvement Committee) meetings.

You could earn lots of extra income by filling in for people at meetings they dread. And as the old song goes, "Don't walk away, Renee." Don't walk away from this lucrative opportunity.

Renee Roberson said...


I am cracking up at the titles of those meetings. I don't LOVE meetings, but I do love the chance to sit with other human beings every so often and not just things over with my dogs. It's all about balance, right :-)

Angela Mackintosh said...

I'm there with you, Renee! We had to shut down our retail business because of some city issues and we're currently looking for a place to relocate to, but I had my own office where I could work on WOW and freelance as well, and I really enjoyed working with positive, upbeat people and chatting with customers. It can be isolating and lonely working from home, although my cat is quite needy. Luckily, I have a friend across the street who works from home as well, so we take coffee breaks together and go for walks to stretch our legs. I go to several meetings a week for a few other business projects I'm working on, and my husband is here on and off throughout the day. I end the workday doing yoga on the beach at sunset with a group when the weather is good. So the day usually goes by faster than I want it to, and even though I work from home I still feel like I'm not getting nearly as much done as I should! Still, I'm always thinking that maybe getting a steady part time job--like 2 or 3 days a week--would do me some good because it would provide more structure to my week. But then I might just explode. LOL

Cindy said... on the beach at sunset ...ahhh...oh wait, where was I? Oh right...working from home. As a writer and a homebody, I am solitary by nature and I love working from home. I've had jobs where I've worked with a team, a faculty and a department and most of them have been rewarding and memorable. I'm lucky that way. I recently "quit" my latest job (working with my husband in a grant-funded parenting program) to give my writing career my full attention. It is a scary and exciting leap, but I feel like I'm ready to do this. I have a lot to learn about managing time and pitching my work. Putting together a paycheck from working at home is my first lesson. My second lesson is to remember to get up off my chair every hour to resume blood circulation. I'll keep an eye on your posts and see how things evolve for you! (And take hints!)

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