It’s been nearly three years since I first started working from home. That’s been ample time to accumulate a list of people’s common responses to learning that I work from home, which range from annoying to downright rude. Here is a veritable guide to not being a complete asshole to your friends who have the pleasure/ misfortune of working from the comfort/confines of their own homes.
1. “It must be great to wear sweatpants all day.”
Ohhh, you caught me. I wear sweatpants sometimes. OK, a lot of times. In fact, there are many days when I start working as soon as I wake up, then I wear my pajamas until noon & shower on my lunch break. But you know what? Wearing sweatpants all day is not actually great. It makes me feel disgusting, & I work a lot better when I’m wearing real clothes & feeling like a real person. So you’ll forgive me if my response to you is that it must be great to have a reason to look nice all day.
2. “So you never have to put on pants!”
This is true. The other day, I took a lunchtime shower & then got sucked into a project that I worked on for a full 90 minutes before processing the fact that I was stark naked. As comfortable my birthday suit is, wearing it at work doesn’t do much to make me feel like a real person. See above, amplified by 100.
3. “Oh, come on. You have time to grab lunch/drink coffee/go on a midday shopping trip. You work from home!”
If you want to hang out on my lunch hour, I can probably make that happen, & I can probably even be flexible with the timing of that lunch hour. But after 45 minutes, I’m gonna have to get back to the office ASAP – you know, because I work. And also, just like any person who works, I occasionally find myself too busy to take such a long lunch break. In fact, in general, I probably take fewer & shorter lunch breaks than people who work from offices because it’s easy to feel like it’s not OK to spend an hour in the middle of the work day sitting on my couch & watching last week’s Grey’s Anatomy.
4. “You’re so lucky you don’t have to commute.”
You’re right, & I do feel quite fortunate that I don’t have to deal with a commute. Commuting sucks. Then again, you’re so lucky that you don’t live in your office. Think about it: I am essentially always at work, which means it’s difficult to say, “Sorry, I’m not in the office right now” if a coworker requests something from me – because I’m practically always in my office. So let’s call it a draw maybe, OK?
5. “I hate my coworkers. It must be so nice not to have any.”
Oooh, this one fries me. If you hate your coworkers so much, I suggest you either find a new job or go into anger management or both. I actually really like my coworkers, & yes, I do have them; we video chat a few times a week & email/IM a few times a minute to ensure that we work well together even while I work from afar. But because I rarely venture into our bricks-and-mortar office, where they all work, I rarely get the day-to-day interactions with them that make up the typical individual’s work experience. I miss them. I miss people. My cat is adorable but not exactly a coworker.
6. “I wish I could watch Netflix while I work!”
I wish I could interact face-to-face with other people while I work, so we’re even.
7. [Laughing at what time I wake up]
“Do you know how early I wake up?” people sometimes say to me with judgmental disdain. Yes, I recognize that teachers get up at, like 5am, as does my military boyfriend. I confess that I usually wake up around 8:15am – and sometimes even as late as 9am, launching into those in-my-pajamas-until-lunch days. I know that’s a blessing, but let’s be clear: I never work any less hard, & I’m often awake until 2am doing it. And again, you wouldn’t have to wake up early commute if you slept at your office every night. Not that appealing, is it?
8. “Must be nice.”
This one feels like a veiled insult. I only say “must be nice” when I think someone is being a lazy and/or indulgent bastard: “You partied all night & slept until 3pm? Must be nice.” “You blew $500 on designer clothes & can still pay rent? Must be nice.” This statement insinuates that I am somehow a lazy and/or indulgent bastard just because my work takes place in my home & not in a cubicle, as though a communal office setting is the only plausible way in which a person could ever be efficient or hard-working.
9. “Wow, your boss must really trust you.”
This one is weird because, yes, of course my boss trusts me. I’m a trustworthy person! Doesn’t your boss trust you?! I assume that your boss doesn’t look over your shoulder all day from the office; working from home isn’t that much different. And because I work in social media, much of the work I do is public, for anyone to see & check up on, so it should be fairly evident that I’m not sitting at home all day watching Grey’s Anatomy. Except on Netflix while I work, of course.
10. “I’d love to be able to work from home.”
Sometimes, guys, I’d love to be able to go into an office every day. I dig camaraderie & being able to drop into other people’s cubicles to brainstorm & participating in impromptu birthday celebrations & things like that. Working from home is great, but it can also be incredibly lonely. I understand why people think my job is one to envy, and I feel very fortunate to be able to work from home, to have a flexible schedule, to not commute, etc., but A) there are downsides, too, & B), at the end of the day, it’s still work.
11. “What do you do all day?”
Oh, this one’s easy: I work. A lot. What do you do all day?