Maybe not as much as you imagine it to be 🙂
I have always said (and still do) that being at home and working is one of the best things that has happened to me. I remember the time when Diya was around a few months old and a dear friend (AJ) told me how good her company was to women (especially mothers), by providing them flexi hours and even work from home option. At that point of time, I wanted to devote my full time and energy to take care of my daughter who was a little underweight and being the first born brought in a lot of anxiety and excitement in our lives. I wanted to savor all those moments. And I am glad I did so.
When Diya turned eighteen months old, I started having second thoughts about my decision to be a Stay At Home Mother. And I prepared my resume to upload it on various job search portals. Soon, I received a call from a consultant who informed me of an opening in the company (the one where AJ worked). I jumped on to it. The interview process lasted for the entire day with job confirmation given to me there and then itself. I couldn’t have been more pleased with myself! The few doubts that I had were dispelled after speaking to my parents and in-laws who were supportive and also the major reason behind my decision of taking the plunge in work-field again. The fact that I already knew about its women-friendly policies did a lot to reassure me.
It’s been almost two and half years and I haven’t regretted being a working mom. Because most of the times (well around 95% of the days, I work from home). But it is not without its own share of issues and I would want to highlight some here just to dispel some of the myths that are linked with WFH (Work from home).
I log in to my office exactly at 9:30 in the morning. That is after I have dropped my daughter off to school. And done with our breakfasts, preparation of lunch, and other household chores. (My share of work is greatly reduced when I have my parents/in-laws at home.) I am there right in front of the laptop, irrespective of whether there is a task at hand or not (since mine is more of a support-based job, I can’t afford to be not available). There have been times when my phone goes unreachable or I am not logged on to the chat service. It is solely due to technical difficulties which people may face even when they are sitting right there in office.
I do take tea and lunch hours off. And unlike office where we spend around 30-40 minutes for tea-time, I finish mine in just 10 minutes, and finishing off a job or two at home! The same goes for lunch hour where I go and pick up my daughter from school, feed her (and myself!) and then get back to work…And on days when there is work and I can’t afford to do so, my maid serves food to Diya.
At all other times, it is my maid or my parents/in-laws who look after her. I am around, but not available. The biggest comfort is in knowing that she is being taken good care of.
The downsides are not non existent though..
You have to be content with not being ‘visible’ in your office. The communication issues are more pronounced. You miss out on networking, and other social interactions. In all these months of working, I have attended only one team event and a couple of team lunches!
Your work is known only through the written proof and that too if you are regular in maintaining it.
The attitude towards WFH is rather non encouraging. People prefer to assume that you are there, and yet NOT THERE! You have to give them benefit of doubt. Perhaps that is what they have seen some people actually doing. Or this is what they end up doing themselves when they are working from home!
It is tough to work when you have a clingy child. There were times when I used to keep Diya on my lap while working because she would just refuse to leave me. And it was not just on days when she was unwell. I started going out / to office WITHOUT her just to make her spend some time with others at home. It did help me a lot.. Also, it took a lot of effort to make her sit alongside and do some ‘activities’ without much intervention required from my side.
The worst part is that you and your work are taken for granted. And so, people can barge into the house and expect to be entertained BECAUSE you are at home. And at work you are not considered for challenging assignments because, well, you are working from home!
These are just the nascent issues, I am sure. My experience has been fairly good till now and this post is based on issues that I and a few others who work from have faced.