Working from home is also working
Working from home is not something common in China, a country where “being in the office” means “working”, when everybody knows that you can be in the office warming the chair and wasting time 8 hours a day. When I was in my previous job, I noticed that when the boss was away, the people in the office stopped pretending they were working, chatted aloud among themselves and left earlier than usual (as soon as the appropriate time to swipe their work card arrived). I have nothing against doing this if you really are not busy, but of course when the boss is present you have to pretend to be very busy so a) the boss doesn’t think the company could do perfectly fine without you and b) the boss doesn’t give you more tasks to do.
When I tell people that I work from home, some seem to think that I do nothing all day. Some friends seem genuinely surprised when sometimes I say I’m busy. I guess for some it’s hard to understand that some people work even when the boss is not looking!
I’m able to work from home because the work I do is all based on deadlines and I work alone, as the only Spanish translator and tester in my company. Obviously, for positions that require to constantly manage people and attend meetings, working from home is not always possible (although I would argue that a good team can be remotely managed and most meetings can be replaced by emails or conference calls).
I am not a freelancer, though. If I was a freelancer I could accept or reject the projects based on my circumstances and work in the evening instead of in the morning, if I wanted, as long as I delivered by the agreed date. However, as a full-time employee in my company, it is implicitly expected that I start work at more or less the same time as the people working from the office, because someone can suddenly need me to do something (we keep in constant communication via instant messaging). Even when I am not busy because we don’t have new projects, I sit in front of the computer most of the time, in case something comes up. It would be totally fine if I went out for a long lunch (and in a few occasions I’ve done it, after all, people in the office do it too!), but I feel I need to prove that I am trustworthy by being completely available during work hours, as it is expected. I think working from home has shown me that I have a strong sense of responsibility and I do my tasks because I have to do them, not because someone is watching over my shoulder.
And, in case you were wondering, no, I don’t work in my pyjamas! I take a shower in the morning and change into stay-at-home clothes (usually, old clothes I don’t wear to go outside anymore). Working from home not only saves you commuting time and money, but also clothes-shopping time and money!
Have you ever worked from home? What did you like and dislike of it? If you never worked from home, would you like to if you had the chance?