Why Working From Home Is NOT a Holiday

Working from home

“So, how is your holiday going? Must be lovely to chill at home.”

“Actually, I am working from home.”

“Yeah, same thing, no?” Titter, titter, chuckle, chuckle.

Amidst large sections of the society lingers the belief that working from home is basically a fancy term for holidaying. You stay in your pyajamas all day, binge-watch your favourite TV shows, eat crisps and wafers and instant noodles, and, when tired of relaxing, turn on your laptop and send a few random e-mails. Working from home isn’t serious work, after all. You don’t have a boss to grill you; you don’t need to commute to the office; you are spared all the grime that comes with being a “working professional”.

Except: Most of that is UNTRUE.

I have worked from home every now and then. I have had long phases of being my own boss and instilling in myself the discipline to meet deadlines and turn in assignments even when a caricatured supervisor isn’t breathing down my neck. Yes, when you work remotely, you are spared the horrors of traffic. You don’t have to dress up every day and fix all your meals before the sun comes up.

But, but.

When working remotely, you have to work harder to prove you haven’t been slacking. You have to evade random visitors and errands that get delegated to you because “you’re going to be home, aren’t you?” It is a perpetual struggle to demarcate your working space from your living area, which is why coffee shops are abuzz with laptops. You haven’t the liberty of claiming you were busy in meetings, birthday party gatherings, fire drills, water-cooler gossip. Every hour you log in has to be ultra-productive.

Working from home can get even more challenging when you are a freelancer. For one, I dislike the term—it gives people the scope to assume you are “free”. And woes betide you if you are a creative professional who writes or draws for a living! The implication is that you lounge about from dawn to dusk, spending time on your “hobbies”, while the rest of the world slogs it in minuscule cubicles.

Few understand that freelancing can be—and often is—as time-consuming and tiring as a full-time job. In fact, it can be worse: you get paid for work that you deliver, unlike an office setup where your salary will come in even when you have watched YouTube videos the entire day. Freelancing also involves pitching to clients, marketing your skills and accomplishments, haggling, following up, being constantly alert and learning, going for meetings at all odd hours of the day, going berserk trying to manage your time when you take on too much or have last-minute adjustments to make. Did someone say something about being on holiday?

I can see why working from home has swiftly become popular. Audiences are global, teams are diverse, and more and more people are opting to follow their passions. It has undeniable charms—independence being at the top of the list. But I will repeat this until my throat goes hoarse: working from home is NOT a holiday, career break, or sabbatical. It is also not a free licence to criticise for people who cling to the sad belief that you need office space, bosses and colleagues to be recognised as a working professional.

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I am taking up the April #AtoZChallenge 2019 and will post every day of the month, except Sundays. I look forward to your company!

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18 thoughts on “Why Working From Home Is NOT a Holiday

  1. Hi, nice post. As I work from home too, I could relate to it. The only thing we are saved from is traffic. I don’t freelance. I have a job with regular hours and necessity of punching in and out. The only difference is that I work remotely. And it’s not as easy as it sounds. You can’t defend yourself in office politics, work as hard, still your coworkers imagine you free all the time and do not care for your break time. And the neighbours do not care for your work time!

    • Hey Jyoti, so good to hear from you – how have you been?! ❤
      I am delighted you could relate with this post. I completely understand where you are coming from. I once worked a full-time job remotely for a LONG time, and the only respite was being saved from the traffic. Everything else: twice as crazy, twice as difficult.

      Look forward to seeing you around more often 🙂

  2. I just casually forwarded your post link to a few of my relatives who have similar queries. I actually have a working zone, though it is quite tiny. I click pics and send them saying this is how Steve Jobs began. Problem is that half of them don’t even know the story of Jobs.

    • Yeay, thank you for doing that, Sonia ❤
      Congrats on having a working zone – it can be quite a luxury. I have thankfully managed to create one for myself too, and I keep it sacrosanct.

      P.S.: Why don't you send all of them books on Steve Jobs for their next birthdays? 😛

  3. Omg! I am bookmarking this post of yours! Some people just do NOT get this work from home concept.

    I once had guests over when I was working from home. And when she saw me working on my laptop she asked me what’s up, and I told her I am wfh. Then she proceeded to yappity yap yap till kingdom come. Because …you know… work from home means just sit in front of computer and use the time to chat somewhere else. Aaargh!!

  4. You said it. I’m into editing for publishing houses and I work from home. And guess what… People ask me- so how do you spend your day?
    I freelance for publishers.
    Yes. But what do you do all day???
    🤔🤔
    Some days I am literally working eight to nine hours and then the question pops up. Really??

    • The “How do you spend your day?” question is among the most aggravating ever! Not that it is anyone’s business anyway. Some people will never learn not to interfere. Sigh.

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