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Three words that strike dread into the heart of anyone who is both employed and self employed as I am. I work 16-24 hours for an employer, and the rest of the time I focus on trying to get things up together in my own business. No matter how many times I explain that if I am not actually in the shop it does not mean I have ‘the day off’, it never seems to sink in.  Conversations that start with “Are you working on Friday?” actually mean “Are you in the shop on Friday?” When you say you are working, you then get asked if you are in the shop. If the response is no, this is usually followed by “Oh good, you have a day off, do you think you could just….”

I can understand how misconceptions arise, especially if you have never worked for yourself, so here are some top tips for friends/family and anyone else who knows someone who works from home:

  • Remember a “little trip” shopping or to pick something up is never ‘only an hour’. What is usually is is around 2 hours driving, however long it takes you to sort your stuff out, and 3 hours sitting in traffic jams. You might feel as fresh as a daisy, the driver does not. What this ‘little trip’ actually is – a whole lost day. If your employer would let you waltz off to help a mate with something they are quite capable of sorting out themselves, feel free to ask.  If not, only ask if you have to, and ask knowing the reality of what you are asking for.
  • Unless your employer would let you just swan off for hours with a mate to collect a flat pack from B&Q don’t expect a self employed person to do that either.
  • Consider the reaction if a friend turned up at your place of work unannounced for a “quick cuppa ‘cause I knew you were in” and then sat there for 4 hours? It won’t be pretty will it? So don’t do it to your self employed friend. If they kick you out after an hour they are not being impolite. You, on the other hand have been extremely rude, because you assumed you could just pitch up on the doorstep on a whim and have them drop what they are doing to entertain you. It’s rude even if they are not working from home. Try using a phone!
  • Consider how you would feel if, rather than sitting on your arse of an evening you were working until 2am, only to have someone turn round and say ‘why are you tired, you had the day off yesterday?”  I bet you’d be pretty pissed off. After a while smiling sweetly and explaining yet again that you were working wears rather thin.
  • Remember that if your friend is an author or a copy writer, as some of mine are, they are not actually at home having a lovely time eating chocolates whilst they type the odd paragraph here and there. Being told “oh it must be lovely to sit around writing stories all day” will not make them look fondly upon you.  Similarly, artists don’t spend all day painting pretty pictures.

I actually love working from home – apart from the numerous senseless interruptions – but it is exactly that: Work. It’s not called faffing about on a PC from home, or sitting watching Jeremy Kyle from home for a reason.  So, in a nutshell, if you remember nothing else remember this:

  • All those things you think I do? I don’t. If you can’t do it at work, neither can I.

Right, got that off my chest.  Back to work!