Recently, for approximately the 58th time in my life, I heard this comment upon telling an acquaintance that I work from home: "Oh, so you just get to chill all day?" Chill? What is this word? Out of all the things people who work from home want you to know, this might be the biggest: It's not one giant Gilmore Girls marathon while sitting in our underwear and eating potato chips.
In all honestly, you can't blame people for the misconceptions; after all, we generally equate home with comfort and leisure. I guess it only makes sense that when I tell people I work from home, they think I spend a large portion of my day scrolling through Facebook and texting all the friends I don't actually have. In reality, though, nothing could be further from the truth — and many other remote workers can probably relate.
Yes, working from home is, in many ways, starkly different from a 9-to-5 desk job. I can work in my office, yes, but I can also work in my bed. I can dress how I want. Am I wearing a bra under this hoodie? Maybe. Maybe not. You'll never know.
But let's be clear about one thing: A job that's worked from home is still a job, and a tough one, at that. It's also kind of amazing. There are just a few things we need to clarify, so before you make any assumptions about your pal who works from home, here are a few things us remote folk would like you to know.
1Our Work Demands That We Be Incredibly Self-Motivated
We don't have a boss standing nearby, watching us, telling us what to do. We're on our own. We are responsible for getting ourselves up at a reasonable hour, putting in the hours until the job is complete, and resisting temptation anytime we get bored and think, "All right, I'm just going to check Instagram real quick." Working from home doesn't mean we have the capacity to spend two hours going 57 weeks back in your ex's feed, surreptitiously liking their pics from last year's trip to Cancun.
2Getting Here Wasn't Easy
Most companies don't exactly cater to work-from-home employees, because — if we're being honest — it can make accountability an issue. Don't assume that finding a way to make a living from home is the easiest thing in the world. It took me years to get to a point where I was making what I needed, and I juggle four jobs to do it.
The good news is that working remotely is becoming more popular. Between 2014 and 2015 alone, there was a 27 percent increase in the number of remote job listings online.
3We're Constantly Reachable — Which Can Make For An Overwhelming Schedule
Working from home makes for a kind of wonderful convenience that you'd never get otherwise... but here's the thing: Because you never physically "leave" the office, you're very often available to the all people you work for, no matter what time it is. This means we might potentially be working at any hour of the day or night. Working from home is awesome because it can give you flexibility; sometimes, you can stop in the middle of the day to run errands or meet a friend for a quick cup of coffee. But it also means you'll very likely be working later into the evening to make up for it. And when your boss texts you and asks for a quick favor, you pause whatever YouTube video you're currently lost in and do it.
4Don't Assume We're Always Lonely Or Bored
A lot of people comment that I'm so lucky to be working from home (agreed!), and then follow up with, "But don't you, like, I don't know, get lonely all by yourself?" Cue the violins! No, I absolutely do not — because I'm working in the exact environment I love. In fact, one study found that people who work from home are 87 percent more likely to love their jobs than people who work in more traditional environments. I've spent plenty of time both at someone else's desk and in my own home, and I can say without a doubt I produce the best work when I'm alone, in a quiet environment, uninterrupted. If I get lonely and want to talk to someone, the dogs are just a couple rooms away.
5We Have Certain Added Luxuries, And Others Might Be Taken Away
Yes, there are many advantages to working from home. But like any job in any location, it has its pros and cons. For example, in the years I've been working from home, paid sick days and vacations simply haven't been an option. If I don't work, I don't make money. End of story. So, I'm fortunate because I'm able to continue earning my paycheck from the comfort of my house even when I feel like garbage, snot dripping down my face, my throat burning with the fire of a thousand suns. And it also kind of stinks, because should I want to take some time off to nurse said burning throat and snot-covered face, I may or may not be able to afford name brand toilet paper that week. (Kidding. Nothing comes between me and my name brand TP.)
6We're Master Multitaskers
When you work in someone else's office, typical house and home responsibilities are out of the picture until you settle in at the end of the day. But when you work at home, you're responsible for everything all the time, especially if you have a partner or roomie who isn't home all day. So, if you're working and the AC repair guy comes and your fifth load of laundry needs to be put in the dryer and the dog pukes on your foot and the alarm keeps malfunctioning and going off (been there, done all that), it's on you, buddy! You have to be a pro at managing your time appropriately.
7This Is A "Real Job"
Working from home is not a hobby. We're not killing time until something "serious" comes along. This is our present and our future, and it's our livelihood. Our jobs aren't any less legitimate just because we don't drive to an office every day. Let's retire this (very insulting) comment, please and thank you.