Let's Talk About Why You Really Want to Work at Home

546230_working_3by Deborah Ng

One of the reasons I changed the FWJ logo from the pajama blogging lady to the coffee cup is because I was getting a little tired of the assumption that folks who work at home are a little lazy. It’s assumed that it’s too much trouble for those of us who work at home to change out of our sleep clothes. It’s assumed that those of us who work at home do so because we don’t want to work a “real” job or “real” hours. It’s assumed that those of us who work at home do so because we can’t adapt to the strong work ethic we need to spend our days at a cube farm.


If you’re looking to work at home because you love the idea of being able to write in your pajamas or design websites for a couple of hours a day, think again. While I have no desire to ever return to the traditional office job, the reasons aren’t out of laziness. In fact, I maintain one must have a stronger work ethic than those who work in an office because we have to remain focused and not let the television or friends distract us. Moreover, I maintain those of us who work at home put in more hours than those who work outside of the home.

So if you have romantic preconceived ideas about luxuriating through a work at home job instead of putting in the time and effort needed to hold down a “real” job, put that thought out of your mind right now. I wonder, is it the actual working at home or the romantic idea of working at home you’re after.

Why Do You Really Want to Work at Home?

Is it because you want to spend more time with your family? If so, you many be frustrated because you’re having a hard time balancing home and work. The truth is, it’s extremely difficult to work while children are demanding your attention or fighting in the background over the last chocolate chip cookie. Sometimes I wonder if I would be a more hands on parent if I left my “real” office job at 5:00 and didn’t return back to it at 8:30 a.m.

Is it because you want to dress more comfortably? Indeed it’s a perk. My stocking bill is lower and I rarely wear heels anymore. I don’t always work in my pajamas though because I feel the need to separate work from home. Getting changed into some casual clothes to work in puts me in the proper frame of mind. Different freelancers have different opinions on that. However, dress isn’t really a reason to work at home.

Is it because you want more flexibility? One of the best reasons to work at home is the ability to work via your own schedule. I love working early in the morning before everyone is a wake while the house is so quiet. Plus I can take time off to lunch with friends or help my son with his homework and take him to activities. My recommendation is to set aside specific blocks of time as “work hours”. When you start and stop constantly it’s hard to be productive. I also found others respect your time more when you set non-negotiable business hours.

Is it because you keep reading about so many work at home jobs? It’s true, the Internet has created so many work at home opportunities. Be forewarned you can’t quit your day job one day and have a huge clientele the next. It takes time to cultivate relationships. Moreover, in today’s economy, work at home jobs are coveted and competition is fierce. My recommendation is to have work set up before taking the plunge.

Is it because you want a lighter load? If so, you may not necessarily get that working at home. If you freelance you’ll probably have a heavier load because you’ll need to find lots of gigs to help compensate for the salary you left behind. You’ll also need to work hard to find clients and meet deadlines. If money is no object, a lighter load is certainly a good reason to work at home. If you need to support a family, this is rarely the case.

If you’re looking to work at home, first think about the reasons you really want to work at home. It’s not all fuzzy slippers and bon bons. There’s a reality here and it’s not always a free and easy lifestyle. I’ve never worked so hard in my life – and if that’s not your goal you may as well stay back in your cube farm.


  1. says

    My biggest reason for working at home is so I can work around my boys’ schedule. It takes some maneuvering, but I make it work. I taught before I had my kids and intended to go back when my youngest was in school full time, but after my oldest was a year old, I decided I never wanted to have to have day care or regular babysitters or have to grade papers in the evening instead of being with my children.

    Freelance writing is perfect for my needs. I love the other perks that come along with it – the casual clothes, the lunches I get to have with friends once in a while, the little thrill of seeing my name in print.

    But you’re right, it’s not just a couple of easy hours a day. Now that my kids are in school full time, I don’t have as many 2AM work sessions as I used to, but I do have them once in a while. I have a steady gig right now that takes about 3 hours a day (it’s not my only gig though), and with the boys out of school for the holidays, I can’t take off. It’s a balancing act and things often get out of balance.

    Wouldn’t want it any other way, though.

  2. says

    I had a few reasons for it. One is that I can work from anywhere with an internet connection. That means my living room, next to my friend’s pool in Hawaii, a farm in Kansas… doesn’t matter.

    My circadian rhythm says that I wake at 8:30 to feel “normal”. Not 6 or 7 or even 8 – 8:30. This is something I have struggled with since elementary school, and now I can give it the middle finger!

    I can have a bad day and cry at my desk. Sounds silly, but try doing that in a corporate law office. I dare ya!

    Because of reason #1, I never have to ask permission to take a vacation. I can jet off to anywhere I want, anytime (money permitting, natch!) so long as I either have my work up to date or I choose a location I can work from.

    I am nobody’s whore but my own now. No suited-and-booted corporate pimp cracking a whip over me only to undo hours of perfectly good work I have done just because some other guy in a suit had a better idea. Or maybe they golf together. My clients and I are equals, and we treat each other as such.

    I love this life, and I will work as hard as necessary to make sure I don’t lose it.


  3. says

    I constantly struggle with those who are under the impression that I live a leisurely life because I write from home. When I was working a “real job”, I managed to fit in friends and socializing with far more ease than I do as a writer because my time off from work was indeed ‘time off’ whereas now I have trouble setting aside time for friends because I am so focused on writing as much as I possibly can. Did I mention the inevitable lingering guilt when I do opt to take off to the mall for an hour or two or attempt to not write over a weekend or holiday??

    Us writers certainly don’t lack work ethic!

    And for the record, while I may looooooooove the privilege of being able to watch rush hour traffic from the comfort of my home office while sipping my morning cup o’ java — I do so AFTER changing out of my pajamas, thank you very much. :)

  4. Therese says

    Unfortunately, I am looking for full time/part time work and am putting out my resumes left and right. I’m struggling right now to stay afloat and I’m single so I don’t have anyone to help me financially. Ideally, I’m trying to find a writing/marketing position (special events planning and fundraising is my background as well but I dread going back into event planning). Does anyone have any tips? I’m a good marketer but I feel like I can’t even market myself these days. It’s pretty depressing. :(

  5. says

    What an excellent post on this frequently misunderstood topic! When I first began as an independent PR consultant 13 years ago, people would say things like “how nice for you that you’re able to have a little home business.” They assumed my husband was supporting me, since there was no way I could be making a good living at home (actually, nothing was further from the truth).

    Today, the misconception is that it’s easy. How many of us have had people just drop by during work hours, assuming that we can drop everything to chat? It’s great that you’ve debunked some of the most romantic notions for those considering this lifestyle.

    I can’t imagine myself doing anything else, and those with the right temperament should go for it! This is a terrific checklist to determine that.

  6. says

    I work both from home and out of the home. The reason that I do this is mainly because I am building my own business and like you said, your clientele is not there immediately. While I am building my business, it is nice to have something steady coming in. It works so well for me because my outside the house job is split hours and part time. This gives us steady money coming in and time for me to do what I need to do. I work harder now that I would with a full time and part time job on the side. Plus I would not have it any other way.

  7. says

    When I started freelancing, I bought into the whole “make your own schedule, work when you want, more free time” hype. I didn’t make much money. When I smartened up and realized that working from home requires WAY more discipline than working for someone else, I started seeing some success. It’s not easy (I have three kids under 5 and another on the way in March) but I wouldn’t trade it for working in an office again. I work longer days, and I work harder, than I ever have in my life. But the fact that I control which projects I take on, and the fact that I never finish the workday thinking “that was a total waste of time” the way I did in my pre-freelancing days, is well worth it.

    I just did my year-end organizing/accounting and realized that this is the first year I’ve made more working for myself than I did working a 9-to-5 job. Needless to say, I was ecstatic :)

  8. says

    Great post. I now know a number of freelance writers and none of them are lazy–some more ambitious than others, for sure, but the predominant word you hear is “hustle.”

    I make a very good living, but I generally work 8 hours a day, sometimes more, sometimes less. And often in the evenings and weekends, depending on workload and how much screwing around I did during the week. That’s the advantage of the so-called flexibility, although if I don’t keep regular hours I don’t make enough money or get enough work done.

  9. Jennifer says

    I have chosen to work at home part time in addition to my full time outside the home job. When I was looking into getting a second job to make enough money to support my daughter and I, I could not find a way that I could do it and raise my daughter.

    Freelance wrting was the answer to my prayers. I can log into my computer after my daughter goes to bed, usually about 9. I then work until midnight or one depending on my deadlines and workload.

    I make a much better hourly rate then I would with an out of the house part time job as well as the flexibility to work after my daughter is in bed. Yes, I work hard and give up some sleep to make my deadlines. I would not change any of it.

  10. says

    I’m lucky in that I don’t have too many people to fend off during the day. I started just letting the voicemail pick up if the number isn’t the client I’m working for (or a potential I know of).

    I started working from home out of necessity, but I wouldn’t go back to working somewhere else because I’ve gotten used to being able to work whenever I have the time or want to. I work a weird hours, and sometimes more than “corporate” people, and I couldn’t do that in a traditional setting without it being a pain in the you-what’s-it. :)

  11. says

    I am hoping to be able to work from home so that I can spend time homeschooling and continue being the main caregiver for my kids. However it has been very frustrating looking for freelance writing gigs which are nearly non existent now with the current economic downturn. I guess that if any work is to be done from home it will be on top of a Full time job outside.

  12. says

    I used to leave my home around 6am to go to work, leaving early so i could avoid morning traffic jams. Had to have help with getting my daughter ready for school.

    Now I wake up much earlier than I used to, but I have time to take my daughter for a walk in the morning and help her get ready for school before my work day begins.

    I work harder than when I was employed fulltime [the commuting hours are now being used for work], but the trade off is worth it. I also love that I don’t have to deal with office politics.

    The one person who doesn’t respect my working hours is a friend who, strangely enough, has been working from home for over 3 years. She works best at night, so sometimes she shows up unexpectedly at my house during the day to visit or to invite me to go shopping. But she does listen when I say “No” so it’s not much of a problem.

  13. says

    There are two or three comments above where you have people randomly showing up at your doors to chat. WTF? Even if you weren’t a home worker, this would be inappropriate behavior! Unless you live in a small Welsh town circa 1919, there is no good reason why people should be showing up unannounced at your door! Time to train friends to have a little respect.

    Wendy ~ City girl who hides inside

  14. says

    Well, I have to confess, that I have worked in my pajamas for awhile now…but that’s because my main project for the last year has been international…and my workday often started at 6AM, so it was up by 5:30 so i could be coherent for the international meetings…with my Team Leader in Germany and my help desk in India, this was the best time for meetings. So it was pajamas until 10 and then shower and get to the rest of the day. The good part was mostly being done by 3PM which means more time for my 15 year old.

    On another note, the up side of working at home for this introvert is that I crave people more and manage to spend time with the people I like for biz lunches and the like, instead of in cube-land where I’d be dumped on with overtime. Now they have to pay me for the overtime…a good, good thing.

  15. Edna says

    I thought working from home would be easier for me then working in a cubicle. I was right and wrong. Some days it would be great to have someone set a deadline for me or tell me what I needed to get done that day. Its taken me a while to smarten up and become more disciplined but its been well worth it. I don’t get as overwhelmed at home as I used to when I worked in a cubicle with other people talking or wanting something all the time. I can focus on my work for longer periods of time and actually get something done.

  16. says

    Hm. A few reasons, actually. None of which have to deal with bunny slippers!

    First of all, I HATE driving or riding to work. Hate. It. If there’s something that will ruin my day before it starts, it’s a bad commute. And since just about every commute during business hours is a bad commute, you know where that leads. Not to mention, cutting down on riding and driving time is better for the environment.

    Second, I’m a night owl. This actually works for me because I can get stuff done early since I’m finishing up while most people are asleep. Instead of completing something by 5PM, you’re more likely to get it as early as 8 or 9 AM.

    Finally, I get all my best ideas when I’m out and about instead of sitting in an office chair. This is especially true when I’m outdoors. I actually get tired when I’m not doing anything! How funny is that?

  17. says

    The worst part about working from home for me is the unannounced visits. Not the bookkeeping or the late nights. Those damn people who show up at your doorstep in the middle of the day without calling asking for a coffee. Gah!

    I would love to answer the door and tell them where to go, but my wife thinks I’ve done enough to upset my in-laws. 😉

  18. says

    My goal for working at home is to save money on gas and help the environment at the same time. Of course, it helps to save wear and tear on my van, which has over 300k miles on it.

    I love the idea of working at home, but I have no illusions that I will be instantly successful. I know it will take hard work and dedication to make it work, just like any other job.

    For me, it’s worth it to at least give it a shot. If it fails, I can always get a traditional job. The only failure is not trying, in my view.

    Blessings All,


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