Working From Home: The Myths Vs The Realities

No matter what, you'll end up having some sort of lie down in the middle of the day...


by Sophie Wilkinson |
Published on

If you’re reading this in an incredibly tidy flat, with hoardes of other tabs open vying for your attention (you’ve just closed the porn one), then you’re one of the 4.2m people in the UK who work from home.

According to a survey released today by the Office of National statistics, that’s how many people are freelancing from home, or working remotely. But what is it really like? We asked the erstwhile freelancers around The Debrief office about the myths versus the realities of working from home.

The myth – you’ll get all your work done in the morning so you can get on with your life in the afternoon.

The reality – you’ll wake up at 9, roll around in bed until about 11, stretch a bit then have the wonderful choice of whether your first meal is breakfast or lunch or a dodgy combination of the two, because, at 11.20, that really is an option.

The myth – you’ll be in a zuzhy café somewhere, sipping lattes and tapping away gleefully on your laptop as you make eyes at other workers-from-home. You’ll then have really interesting conversations about politics or poetry.

The reality – coffee is expensive, you don’t need more than two cups in a day before you start tip-tapping your fingernails through reinforced steel. And besides, you don’t trust any of the babbling college students there on dates to look after/watch your laptop when you go for the eighth wee of the day.

So you relocate to a library, which also doubles up as a play centre for loud, warbling infants – you realise this after accidentally appearing as the centerpiece of a particularly jubilant session of Monkey Music.

Your best work will be done when you’re in need of a shower, sitting in a dark room with the curtains open and some peanut butter-based concoction half-eaten beside you.

The myth – people will be kind of impressed that you have the wherewithal and discipline to work from home.

The reality – unless they really understand your job, they’ll spend a lot of their time talking to you with their head tipped to the side, going ‘ahh’ and doing big sad eyes at you, even though you’re both still out at 1am on a Thursday and they’re the ones who are going to feel like dogshit the next day and not be able to silently weep while they work.

The myth – there are no distractions at home because, well, it’s home; how much fun can you have at home?

The reality – an upside to being freelance is your kitchen and bathroom will be so clean you could perform surgery in them. The downside is that though you’ve never previously had reason to think you’ve got an obsession with sex, you have to start wearing a belt and actual outdoor clothes to stop your hand delving into the front of your pyjamas/shorts/pants/tracksuit bottoms any time the mood takes you.

The myth – you’ll feel really creative and productive in your own company.

The reality – the moment your housemate comes back from work, you’ll want to know every detail of their day, from which colleague annoyed them down to the snacks they ate. This is only really problematic when you start working in an office again and they think you still care about all this minutiae.

Plus, it’s pretty depressing that the first person you might speak to in a day is the shop assistant helping you out when the self-service till calls you out for removing items from the bagging area.

** The myth** – that you won’t earn that much.

The reality – as well as saving a lot of money by not travelling into work or buying the same old expensive lunch from the same old sandwich chains, you work out that special timetable which works for you and makes you the most productive you can be.

The myth – you’ll slob around all day.

The reality – you could end up joining a gym and getting a really hot bod, as one editor at The Debrief did. Or you could end up walking or cycling everywhere and seeing new things on these walks or bike rides because you’re working so little that you just don’t have any money. Though broke financially, you’re rich in un-airconditioned air. Also, the power of naps will glow through your every pore.

The conclusions? To be honest, we’re obviously going to come down on the side of working in an office, seeing as we do it every day at The Debrief. But the plus side is that if so many people are working from home, some of you must be doing it right? Hopefully, you’ve all got a lot more discipline than we ever did...

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us