like to think I know everything there is to know about being a
work-at-home Mom. From sudden phone calls in the middle of the day,
informing me that my daughter is throwing up in school, to kids that
decide to have a knock-down drag out, hair-pulling, cuss-ridden
shouting match just as the client decides to call, I've seen and done
it all. I've had a home office since I was pregnant with my second
child, and maintained the office through the birth of number two, and
beyond the birth of number three. My work involves making phone calls
to media to try and entice the editor or producer to do a story on my
As my business grew, I found myself on the other side of the desk, employing Moms who bill themselves as consultants, who work from their homes for my business. All they need is a computer with Internet hookup, a telephone and a great attitude. It's that third quality that I find lacking in many work-at-home Moms. Over the years, I have developed some, call them "bugaboos," if you will, about my workers. In the interest of fostering professionalism amongst home-based working Moms, I would like to share my thoughts with any readers who may be considering a Work-at-Home Mom position. These are some of the situations that have driven me absolutely nuts in dealing with my home workers:
The "Disappearing" Mom - Now you see her, now you don't. She presents beautifully on a resume, agrees to take the job, seems eager to start, but when push comes to shove, on the day she is set to begin, I get an email from her stating, "I got called out of town on urgent business and can't complete the job. I will eat the hours that I've put in so far, and won't charge you, since I've got to go."
My response to this one is, if this Mom thinks that I would even begin to entertain the notion of paying her for time allegedly spent on my work, she's nuts. It was bad enough that this Mom bailed on me, to have even mention getting paid for time is laughable! No person in their right mind would pull this kind of disappearing act on the first day of work at an onsite job and expect consideration from their boss.
The Off-Task "Know it All" - On the day she is due to give me a report on her activities, this Work-at-Home Mom tells me that she decided not to do the work because she's been thinking about it, and she feels it should be done differently. She then suggests an approach that we have never discussed, presents me with work I didn't ask her to do, and tells me why it's better than the one I initially gave her. My response to her is, that I am not paying her to think, I am paying her to do the task that I had given her initially. If she had ideas I was willing to entertain them BEFORE the work was due, and since it is my business and I'm experienced in my field, I reserve the right to tell her if I think the original approach is better. And I expect her to stick to the assigned task.
The "Dog Had an Epilepsy Attack/Baby Was Teething" Mom - I call her up to get an idea of when I will get a report and she informs me that her dog had an epilepsy attack and she is knee deep in poop, plus her baby is teething and cranky and she just couldn't get to the phone. With all due respect, the deadlines I deal with are real, and my clients pay me for results. I know that she has become a working mom because of the flexibility factor. I understand that more than she knows. Been there, done that...Had she called me to ask if the deadline could be extended because of an extenuating (one-time) circumstance, I might have been able to do something. But this Mom waits for ME to call HER and then, and only then does she tell me her problems.
The "I Worked More Hours Than I Did" Mom - This Mom thinks that I don't have a clue as to exactly how much work can be done in an hour. Now, admittedly, I am very good and very quick when it comes to making pitch phone calls. I understand that not everyone can polish off forty calls in an hour. But when I get a bill for ten hours work, and only a dozen calls have been made, it doesn't take an Einstein to figure out that ten hours have not been executed. An average pitch phone call takes 2 to 5 minutes. If a Mom is filling up ten hours of work, she should be making 12 to 30 calls each hour. Even if I take away one hour for administrative work, like sending me reports, that leaves 108 to 270 calls in a ten-hour work week. Besides, I can easily check on calls made by looking a their phone bills. But still, some Moms, persist in trying to fool me.
The bottom line is, that when I employ another Mom, it is more than just desperation for flexible consultants feuling my ferver. I want to see more Moms doing what I do. I am not a heartless boss. I know that juggling the kids and the job is hard work, which is probably why the home-based worker has opted to start working at home to begin with. But the home-based Mom has to create some rules to live by because if she doesn't, she brings down the whole lot of us. If you choose to work at home, BE PROFESSIONAL. Be available when you are supposed to be. Do the work you have been assigned to do, and don't improvise unless you are specifically asked for input. Put in the hours that you promise to. Don't overbill for hours not worked. Most importantly, know that your boss reports to someone too, someone who is scrutinizing her work carefully. If you do great work, she'll look great and she'll get assigned more work, which will translate into more work for you.