This is the time of the year when my commuting into the office, full time employment peers tell me how lucky I have it because as a work from home contractor, I get flexibility over the holidays.
This is true. I can make my own hours, if I’m so inclined. And I’m also extremely fortunate.
But as a work from home contractor, you know what I can’t make?
- Health benefits
- Paid sick time
- Paid vacation time
- Leaving the office at the office
- Paid holidays
It’s not all party, party, party
Now, I know I can start and stop work any time I want in my home office. If I want to stop to bake holiday cookies, I can. If I want to take a break to do some shopping, I can. Heck, if I want to spend the entire afternoon watching bad TV movies, I absolutely can. As long as I get my work done.
See, I can take a week off at Christmas time, but unlike some of my friends who take vacation time during the holidays, no one is going to pick up my slack. I can’t call in a temp or train a co-worker to cover for me. If I commit to a job or project and I agree to a price and deadline, I have to get that done within the required time frame or I don’t get paid. So, yes, I can show up at all the holiday gatherings, and take time to be with my family, but unlike those of you who receive vacation time I’m also waking at 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. or staying up late in the night to fulfill my obligations.
Unlike many of my friends who work in an office, I don’t necessarily have the ability to leave work completely at 5:00. Usually, because I work at home, there are distractions that make it so that I’m working much later. Also? If I do blow off work and have some fun and don’t make it up, my clients know. If I’m contracted to work 40 hours for them, and I’m spending the day playing games or going to a holiday gathering, and only work an hour a day, the work I turn in to them looks like an hour of work a day. No matter how I swing it, I can’t fit forty hours of work into five hours and look like I worked 40 hours.
Now, don’t cry for me blogosphere, I have a good life. I love what I do. I love where I work and I love the terms I agreed to. I even love that I have a second book project on top of all that. But before you assume I can take off any time, or that I can get away without doing much at all simply because there’s no one watching over me, remember that most contractors have a full work day to put in with no benefits, perks, days, or bonuses.
I realize that all of the above are my choice and I’m not complaining at all. However, the next time you tell me how lucky I am because I can take off whenever I want, remember that just because I’m enjoying time with friends and family over the holidays, doesn’t mean I’m not working. I’m usually spending my down time working, sometimes at hours when most revelers are sleeping in.
What’s your situation?