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Things Not to Say to Someone Who Works From Home

  April 29

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work from homePlease welcome my hilarious friend John from Frugal Rules, who is here today to give some insight on the easiest job in the world – working for yourself of course. 😉

What if I told you that I had found the perfect job? In this job, your workday never starts before Noon and your duties consist of watching television, snacking on Cheetos and Ding-Dongs, and playing video games. You have endless hours of personal leave and your dress code is pajama casual.

What is this awesome job you ask? Well, it’s the luxurious and never ending party of working for yourself. Truth be told, I AM sitting here in my pj’s as I write this and I do enjoy the long and arduous 8 second commute from my bedroom to my home office, but the misconceptions of working at home begin and end there. If they didn’t, I’d quickly be broke and out of the streets looking for an employer to hire my sorry butt.

Many of these misconceptions smacked me in the face recently as we had family come visit and stay with us for ten long days. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family – I really do, but this was the first time they stayed with us since I took the plunge about 18 months ago in to helping my wife run our business and they got to see, albeit on a limited scale, what goes on for a web entrepreneur most days. Some things were said that just made me want to scream, some made me want to laugh and most of them simply showed that it was something new for them and would take them time to grasp what working from home really entails.

In light of that, I thought I’d share some of the silly things they said, along with others I’ve heard over the past year or so. If you run your own business you’ve likely heard these as well. Seeing as Cat recently took the leap into working for herself full time I thought what better audience to share some of these funny and sometimes ignorant statements with than those who’ve come to know and love her writing. I’ve added some suggestions as well if you’re looking for an alternative to ignorant comments. J Here  goes:

Don’t say: How long are you going to play on your computer?

Really? That’s right, my wife and I manage to put a roof over our heads and the heads of our kiddos by playing on the computer all day. I mean, after all, it’s so cool I get to play Angry Birds whenever I want AND get paid to do it. Why didn’t I think of this sooner?

Do Say: What kind of work are you doing?

For many entrepreneurs they’re likely wearing many hats and thus doing something different all the time. Take some interest as opposed to lobbing something that could be taken as a slam.

Don’t Say: Is that all the work you’re doing today?

Besides sometimes coming across as somewhat judgmental it can communicate that you think they’re not working at all.

Do Say: Boy, you have an uneven schedule!

Why, yes we do. That’s half the fun of it. We’ll likely will never mirror a traditional 9-5 corporate job schedule but we think owning and being completely responsible for what we do and create is a pretty good tradeoff.

Don’t Say: Well, you ARE home all day. Surely you have all sorts of free time.

How about I show up at your office for a playdate with three kids and think you can take a three hour lunch? While we’re at it, fancy to take in a movie as well?

Do Say: What does your schedule look like tomorrow?

Thanks for asking about my schedule. I actually have several client calls tomorrow, how does Thursday work for you?

Don’t Say: All you do is sit there all day. Do you need me to buy you some groceries?

What do you do at work all day? How much of your day do you spend sitting in front of your computer at your desk or sitting around a table in a meeting? Don’t assume I’m not working because my work is online.

Do Say: Wow. You spend a lot of time in front of that computer. What kinds of things are you working on?

Yes, I do spend a lot of time on my keester in front of this blasted computer but come sit with me for an hour and you’ll see how much I get done, even with my two finger typing prowess.

Don’t Say: You’re at home anyway, so you should be able to get this done right away.

I didn’t know you were psychic! How did you know that my schedule was completely free?

Do Say: When do you expect to get this done?

My schedule is a little free this afternoon so I should be able to get it knocked out by the end of the day or tomorrow at the latest.

Don’t Say: You work from home anyway, so it shouldn’t be a problem for you to get the job done this weekend.

See response to last statement. If that’s not enough then you can always say, gee I know it’s a bit much to ask for some down time this weekend.

Do Say: This is a rush job, is there any way you can work on it this weekend?

Sure, I’d be happy to help out with that. I’ll do what I can to get it to you by Monday morning.

Don’t Say: Yes, I have four lovely kids. One is a doctor, one is a lawyer, one is an engineer. Oh…our other child works from home.

Nothing really needs to be said in response to this one, other than to say to be proud of your kids no matter what they do…assuming it’s legal of course. 🙂

Do Say: Yes, I have four lovely kids and they’re in jobs they happy with. This is what they do…

That’s awesome! It’s so cool to see such diversity in your family.

Don’t Say: Couldn’t hack it in the “real” world could ya?

If that was the real world, then I’m glad I couldn’t “hack” it.

Do Say: I’m so glad to see that you’ve been able to find something you enjoy.

Thanks, I am too.

Don’t Say: It must be so easy to work for yourself!

How’d you guess? I can’t believe more people aren’t doing it because it’s easy as pie!

Do Say: What kind of challenges do you face in running your own business?

Thanks so much for asking, there are some unique challenges, but it helps me grow.

Don’t Say: Are you scamming people or something? You’d have to in order to be making any money.

That Nigerian prince…you guessed it…I am him. Would you send the blasted money already!

Do Say: How do you get business on a regular basis?

Thanks for asking! It does take hard work, but by networking, getting your name out there, and commitment you can make a go of it.

There you have it. The crazy thing is that this is only a smattering of the things my wife and I have heard the past several years of running our own business from home. Working from home can be fun and laid back (as evidenced by my current attire of pajamas), but it does present some unique challenges. That said, I wouldn’t give it up for anything as I feel for the first time in a long, long time that I’m doing what I should be doing – which is a pretty awesome feeling.

Do you work from home? If so, what do you enjoy most about it? If not, is it something you aspire to do?

John Schmoll is the founder of Frugal Rules, a blog created to help people experience financial freedom through frugality. John is passionate about budgeting, saving and investing and enjoys sharing his knowledge and experience with others so they can avoid making some of the mistakes that he made. A veteran of the financial services industry, John has an MBA in Finance and experience as a licensed stockbroker. You can find John online at and follow him at @frugalrules.

Editor’s note: If you enjoyed this post, you’ll probably enjoy my sassy take on things you should and shouldn’t say to a mom of twins. Just sayin’ 😉

Do You Know Someone Who Works From Home? Don't say this to people who work from home!

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37 responses to “Things Not to Say to Someone Who Works From Home

  1. I TOTALLY LOVE YOUR POST JOHN!!! Whenever we had a visitor and they asked me what is my job and I told them that I’m working at home as a Virtual Assistant, I saw their eyebrows raising and it really pissed me off, honestly! I heard a lot of rumors from our neighbors, since we are living in a province, the first thing that came into their mind, if I’m a scammer or showing a live show “cyber***” to some foreigners! Oh, this really makes me sick!!!

    1. Glad you liked it Clarisse! 🙂 Yea, I’m used to seeing those raised eyebrows when I tell people what we do for a living. It’s like they honestly think we’re scamming people. The crazy thing is I wouldn’t even know where to begin if I even wanted to do that. 🙂

  2. I can’t imagine the comments I would receive if I started to work from home full-time, especially if it was self-employment. With some of my experience with blog management and freelance work I’ve come to respect those who make a full-time living doing it.

  3. A lot of my friends (millennials) tend to say things like, “I wish I could work from home.” I’ve spent four days working from home the last week and a half because my bosses are out of town and I’d be the only person in our office. I hate it. I’m not sure if it’s because am an extreme extrovert or because I just it’s easier for me to focus on an office setting. Regardless, I respect those who can work for themselves and work from home, but after having a taste, I learned the freelance life just isn’t for me.

    But in regards to all those nay-sayers you had staying with you — it’s certainly a real, time-intensive job!

    1. There is definitely that element of focus, or if you’re an extrovert that can make it a challenge. I would consider myself an introvert and it’s still a challenge for me many days. Yes, it is very real – just in a different setting. 🙂

  4. I love this John! I used to hear the rudest things, but lately I have made it pretty clear to others that I actually work 🙂

    I love it whenever people just assume that I have tons of free time. Yes, I have more now than when I was working 100 hours a week doing both jobs, but I still don’t have an endless amount of time!

  5. Ha!!! I laughed my way through all of this because I know EXACTLY how you feel!!! I was just in Florida with my son on his spring break and I stayed with family. They were like, “What, you’re working? I thought you were on vacation?” and “Oh, she’s on the computer again.” I was so tired for being judged for being on the computer and “working.” I had to inform them that when you are a solopreneur, vacation is not really something that is in the cards. And if I don’t get things done, no one else is going to do them. My family preferred it when I was a financial advisor for the large firm I worked for previously, it was easier to explain to their friends. Now I think I embarrass them. 🙂

    1. I can relate to that embarrassing feeling. It’s like they don’t want to tell people that you run your own business or they think it’s all lollipops and puppies.

    1. I know. I had a family member literally ask if we were scamming people. You just either want to thank them for thinking so highly of you, or saying “How’d you guess?” 😉

  6. Love the post…pretty hilarious. I read recently that a lawyer fell for the “Nigerian Prince” scam and actually used some of his clients money to procure the inheritance from the Nigerian Prince. I think he’s been suspended. Anyways, I hate it when people just make assumptions about things they don’t understand rather than taking the time to learn about it. You know what they say about people who just ASSUME!

    1. Thanks Andrew! Wow, I hadn’t heard about that at all. I can definitely understand why he was suspended. Yep, assumptions are no good – especially when you hear the same ones all the time.

  7. “..even with my two finger typing prowess.” I loved that part! If I were staying with a family member who worked from home, I would take advantage of the opportunity to learn from them. Everyone has their different methods and schedules, and I find it interesting how people balance it all. It’s a shame that working from home means playing around, doing nothing all day to some people.

    1. Ha ha, that sad thing is that it’s the truth most days. 🙂 I agree, it is a shame, but it admittedly can be foreign to many so I just try my best to let it one ear and go out the other. Though, it’s not always that easy.

  8. Wait, so you don’t just sit around and play video games all day? What a waste! I love it when my friends ask my why I play on my computer so much. I tell them because I love to play the game of making money. In my game, I make money when I am on the computer, so I win!

  9. HAHAHA! This is great! I just had my first awkward freelance conversation last week. I’m assuming I’ll have a lot more in the future as I try to explain why I quit my stable day job to walk dogs while building an online business. The person thought blogging was pronounced… bl-U-ging. It’s fun to read your experience and others in the comments!

  10. I don’t work from home, but I certainly understand that in order to get people to pay you, you have to work just as hard, or perhaps harder, than I do in my office. The “sitting in front of a computer” comments are pretty funny. If they came into my office and saw that I was putting together a solid model, or writing a presentation, they would probably say, “Wow, that looks complicated,” but if they saw me working on the same stuff at home in my jammies, they’d probably say, “What game are you playing.” Many people draw their conclusions base on the environment they are in.

    1. That’s a good point Bryce. I think when you add that to no real knowledge or experience with the role in question I think that can easily bring about assumptions.

  11. I too work from home and in the beginning I would get quite a few snide comments from some acquaintances about it until they got the point that I worked more productively than they did in less time. I had someone tell me it wouldn’t last…well I’m still at home and working! I have a couple of very close friends who also work from home so we have that shared experience. It is definitely not for everyone but it really suits me and my lifestyle. I can tell you I don’t miss the hour long commute, the cost of gas, and having to dress up everyday. I rock my pj’s everyday unless I have a video conference call to attend.

    1. Oh, I had the “it won’t last” conversations too and I use that as motivation to keep me going. Two years in and I don’t see it stopping any time soon. Yes, those video conference aren’t usually good for the pj wardrobe. 😉

  12. The first thing that comes into other peoples mind when you said that you’re working from home is that you are a scammer, you’re dating online and other negative things. Our relatives asked me how many times about the nature of my work and it’s very hard to explain to them because they don’t have any idea of my work.

  13. Haha, very funny! Indeed, when you are working from home, people thing that you have all the time in the world to do anything BUT work. It drives me crazy sometimes that people think that I spend the day doing nothing, that they can visit whenever they want to because… I just sit there all day.

  14. Oh, the endless ‘computer playing all day’ issue 😀
    I don’t even bother to discuss this anymore. For those who are interested, I run a home based business, by working as a web designer. The others don’t need to get too many details, since they wouldn’t understand it anyway

  15. I think I have heard all of these, and I’ve been working from home for less than a year! My personal favorite is the “You work from home, so you can come pick me up at the airport/sign for a package at my house/other chore someone should be doing for themselves, right?” And it’s never next week, it’s “In an hour or two?”

    With more and more people doing non-traditional or independent work, though, I think it might soon become a common enough career path the other people will start to get it!

    1. Oh, I know. Many think we have absolutely no schedule to keep so it only makes sense that we can do things at the drop of a hat.

      I hope you’re right, though I think we will see more acceptance come from the younger generations first.

  16. My husband works from home, and he works way more than he did when he had a 9-to-5 job. There is that attitude out there that “the real world” involves getting into your car and driving to your employer’s place of business. I get the impression from subtle things that some people say, that they feel sorry for me because I’m married to a man who doesn’t have a “real job”. These subtle comments are a little more challenging to respond to than the in-your-face tactless ones. But it’s all good : ) We’re thrilled with the success of his business, so people can say and think what they like!

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