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Everything You Thought You Knew About Working From Home Is Wrong

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Everything You Thought You Knew About Working From Home Is Wrong

With the rise of telecommuting, more people are working from home than ever before. It’s not uncommon to see words like “remote” or “offsite” in job listings, and it’s estimated that in the United States alone, approximately 16 million people work from their home office at least one day a week. There has also been a massive influx in self-employment, as sites such as Etsy allow folks to make products and sell them online without having to worry about overhead costs for a physical store.

That said, it’s important to remember that just because someone works from home doesn’t mean that they’re either slacking off, or working any less than you are. Those who have never worked done so may have some misconceptions about what working from a home office is really like, so let’s put those to rest, shall we?

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“You work from home? How do you get anything done?”

People who work from home tend to work a LOT more than those in offices, as there’s no real delineation between work time/home time, so work hours spill over into what many would consider to be “personal” time. Distractions such as TV, dirty dishes and such really don’t come into play, as home-based workers realize that their income depends on one thing and one thing alone: how productive they are. As such, they’re not exactly sitting around in PJs all day, especially if there are regular video Skype meetings happening. (Of course, they might just be in PJs from the waist down, but it’s impolite to ask.)

Although you may be tempted to tell people how lucky they are that they get to stay home all day, keep in mind that they’re probably working 12+ hours a day. Sure, self-employed folks may not have to commute for an hour either way, but they’re likely using those extra hours for work. Most self-employed people (including freelancers who telecommute), don’t have things like medical/dental coverage, paid sick leave, or other types of health/personal insurance that’s often covered by full-time employers, so a couple of hours’ worth of extra work may mean that some savings can actually be squirrelled away.

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“Since you’re at home anyway, I figured I’d just stop by… “

It’s very bad form to just “drop in” on someone who works from home, as they are WORKING. We wouldn’t just show up at someone’s office for a chat, and the same goes for the self-employed. While you may be tempted to stop by to see a friend/relative because you miss them and you figure that they can make time for you if you just show up, ask yourself if you would do that sort of thing if they worked in a standard office setting—if the answer is “no”, don’t do it.

If someone drops by for a visit, most workers will be gracious and polite and try to make a bit of time to socalize, but that really throws off the entire work day. Think about a situation in which you’ve settled into a groove, and were then interrupted by a co-worker, a phone call, or an impromptu meeting. When that happens, one’s train of thought derails and falls into a lake, and it’s really difficult to draw it back into working order, doesn’t it? Please be considerate.

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“Hey, I know you work from home, so can I get this done tonight/this weekend/right now?”

People who work from home need down time as much as office workers do—possibly more, considering that whole working 12 hours/day thing—but many folks assume that since the person telecommutes, they’re always available. I’ve heard countless freelancers mention clients who have asked that they work on weekends in order to make the client’s life “easier”, and texts/emails are often sent at all hours of the day or night, as clients assume that freelancers and such are perpetually chained to their desks.

I once received a text message from a client at 2 am on a Wednesday morning, asking me to have a piece edited and polished for 6 am so they could review it before going in to work. When I explained that I had been sleeping and had no plans to get out of bed until 7:30, they didn’t understand: I worked from home, right? Why couldn’t I do this?

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“Wow, you must have so much free time! Let’s go to_____ today.”

Uh, no.

Working from home does not mean that one’s schedule is malleable. There are often online meetings to attend, deadlines to meet, etc., and it’s no more viable to skip off for an afternoon of frivolity as it would be if mired in an office environment. Sure, sometimes work can be rearranged so that excursions can happen, but those have to be planned well in advance, not just on a whim. If you’ve asked a self-employed friend to do something in the middle of the day and they turn you down, please don’t try to coerce them into it or guilt trip them for not going, unless you plan to reimburse them for the time they won’t be spending at work that day.

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Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on November 15, 2021

20 Ways to Describe Yourself in a Job Interview

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20 Ways to Describe Yourself in a Job Interview

“Please describe yourself in a few words”.

It’s the job interview of your life and you need to come up with something fast. Mental pictures of words are mixing in your head and your tongue tastes like alphabet soup. You mutter words like “deterministic” or “innovativity” and you realize you’re drenched in sweat. You wish you had thought about this. You wish you had read this post before.

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    Image Credit: Career Employer

    Here are 20 sentences that you could use when you are asked to describe yourself. Choose the ones that describe you the best.

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    “I am someone who…”:

    1. “can adapt to any situation. I thrive in a fluctuating environment and I transform unexpected obstacles into stepping stones for achievements.”
    2. “consistently innovates to create value. I find opportunities where other people see none: I turn ideas into projects, and projects into serial success.”
    3. “has a very creative mind. I always have a unique perspective when approaching an issue due to my broad range of interests and hobbies. Creativity is the source of differentiation and therefore, at the root of competitive advantage.”
    4. “always has an eye on my target. I endeavour to deliver high-quality work on time, every time. Hiring me is the only real guarantee for results.”
    5. “knows this job inside and out. With many years of relevant experience, there is no question whether I will be efficient on the job. I can bring the best practices to the company.”
    6. “has a high level of motivation to work here. I have studied the entire company history and observed its business strategies. Since I am also a long-time customer, I took the opportunity to write this report with some suggestions for how to improve your services.”
    7. “has a pragmatic approach to things. I don’t waste time talking about theory or the latest buzz words of the bullshit bingo. Only one question matters to me: ‘Does it work or not?'”
    8. “takes work ethics very seriously. I do what I am paid for, and I do it well.”
    9. “can make decisions rapidly if needed. Everybody can make good decisions with sufficient time and information. The reality of our domain is different. Even with time pressure and high stakes, we need to move forward by taking charge and being decisive. I can do that.”
    10. “is considered to be ‘fun.’ I believe that we are way more productive when we are working with people with which we enjoy spending time. When the situation gets tough with a customer, a touch of humour can save the day.”
    11. “works as a real team-player. I bring the best out of the people I work with and I always do what I think is best for the company.”
    12. “is completely autonomous. I won’t need to be micromanaged. I won’t need to be trained. I understand high-level targets and I know how to achieve them.”
    13. “leads people. I can unite people around a vision and motivate a team to excellence. I expect no more from the others than what I expect from myself.”
    14. “understands the complexity of advanced project management. It’s not just pushing triangles on a GANTT chart; it’s about getting everyone to sit down together and to agree on the way forward. And that’s a lot more complicated than it sounds.”
    15. “is the absolute expert in the field. Ask anybody in the industry. My name is on their lips because I wrote THE book on the subject.”
    16. “communicates extensively. Good, bad or ugly, I believe that open communication is the most important factor to reach an efficient organization.”
    17. “works enthusiastically. I have enough motivation for myself and my department. I love what I do, and it’s contagious.”
    18. “has an eye for details because details matter the most. How many companies have failed because of just one tiny detail? Hire me and you’ll be sure I’ll find that detail.”
    19. “can see the big picture. Beginners waste time solving minor issues. I understand the purpose of our company, tackle the real subjects and the top management will eventually notice it.”
    20. “is not like anyone you know. I am the candidate you would not expect. You can hire a corporate clone, or you can hire someone who will bring something different to the company. That’s me. “

    Featured photo credit: Tim Gouw via unsplash.com

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