Those of us who work from home are like members of a special club, minus the secret handshake and clubhouse. We don’t fit traditional business norms and not everyone gets us. We know our corporate counterparts don’t understand what it’s like to work from a sofa or a spare bedroom, instead of from a cubicle or a conference room. They don’t realize the self-motivation it takes to be productive each day with the refrigerator, piles of laundry, and annoying neighbors only seconds away from our home office.
While employees are gossiping at the water cooler or
surfing the Internet working on projects, we’re working the same amount of hours… sometimes more. All we want is a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T, and an occasional Mocha Frappuccino wouldn’t hurt either. So the next time you interact with someone who works from home, consider what not to say, including these 10 comments:
1. “I’ll bet you can’t wait to get a ‘real’ office.” The last time I was in an office building, I noticed that each office had a desk, a credenza, a computer, and a landline. With the exception of the phone, annoying coworkers, and a know-it-all boss, my home office looks the same. Although I could use a vending machine stocked with chocolate.
2. “You’re home anyway, so you can wait at my home for the repair person.” That’s no different from saying, “You’re going to the grocery store anyway, so why don’t you take care of my weekly shopping trip and while you’re out, could you get a pap smear for me.” When I need to print marketing materials, I don’t call my corporate friends and ask them to make copies for me (actually, if they have access to a color copier…) or bring home office supplies I’m too cheap to buy (unless they’re sticky notes).
3. “You can’t be serious about your business when you wear yoga pants all day.” What you wear does not dictate how productive or successful you are unless you’re a cop, a surgeon, or a stripper. When you’re working from home it’s okay to dress down for success. If you’re going for a business casual vibe, go right ahead. The point is to be comfortable and to be able to answer the door wearing some type of clothing that won’t traumatize the person on the other side. Some things you can’t unsee.
4. “You’re around all day so your home must be spotless.” There’s no law of physics (or is it housekeeping?) that the amount of time you spend in your home affects its cleanliness. If so, my house would be on the cover of Clean Houses of the World. My house is always organized, but it isn’t always white-glove, eat-off-the-floor clean. I take care of that during non-working hours, and, as far as I know, no one has any interest in eating off my floor except for my dog, and even then it’s hit or miss.
5. “I’d love to work from home and have more ‘me’ time. If by “me” time you mean spending all day in front of a computer, taking a 10-minute lunch, and then spending more time in front of a computer, I’m willing to share some of that time with you. Working from home isn’t always that hectic, but trying to meet deadlines while maintaining some type of life balance doesn’t leave much time for watching videos all day and enjoying in-home spa treatments.
6.”We ignore the people in my company who work from home.” The group Magic! sings it best: “Why you gotta be so rude”… to your co-workers. This isn’t high school where the mean girls rule and freeze out the not-so-cool kids. Someone may not work in the office each day, but they’re still part of the overall team and they’re working, too. And there’s nothing more embarrassing than being called into the principal’s, I mean the boss’s, office for being a bully.
7. “It must be nice to be able to work from home with children or grandchildren nearby.” Is there an alternate universe where it’s possible to be productive with children around? Working from home with children is as easy as setting up your home office in the middle of Target and expecting to accomplish anything other than directing customers to the right department. There’s a reason day care, play groups and friends who love to help babysit, exist.
8. “Working from home is a fad.” Considering the number of people with home offices, it will be a long time (if ever) before working from home goes by way of the VHS tape, leg warmers and Beanie Babies. Anyway, I heard leg warmers are coming back (fortunately not leotards and headbands).
9. “You probably binge watch Netflix all day.” If anyone knows of a high-paying job where you can grab a cup of coffee, sit back and watch hours of Netflix programming, sign me up. One of the biggest advantages of working from home is the freedom to work when you want. One of the biggest disadvantages of working from home is being able to work more hours than you want because there’s no clear break between your work life and personal life.
10. “I’d like to work from home but I’m a people person.” We may not work in a traditional office, but we also like to interact with people … sometimes. We have to make more of an effort to be around others, but leaving our home office to meet someone for coffee or lunch is a welcome break.
It’s not always what you say, but how you say it. So when you have the urge to make a comment to someone who is working from home, think before you say anything and bring along a cup of coffee just in case.