Are You Working From Home or Just Pretending?

My friend and I met for our weekly coffee and complaining session when she told me something that shattered everything I’ve ever believed about working from home, like a child who discovers the truth about Santa Claus or investors who realize their tubs filled with Beanie Babies are worthless.

The night before, her husband told her that her work-from-home job wasn’t real because she didn’t go to an office every day. He hadn’t taken into account she earns more working from home than he does in his corporate job. Apparently, income doesn’t matter…it’s where you work.

Does this make me a fraud? Am I a fake or a phony that has been pretending to work from home for 20 years? How do I explain to my kids, whom I’ve asked to leave my home office more times than a Kardashian has had Botox, that my home-based business has been a sham?

I was distraught — break-out-the-chocolate kind of distraught — when I discovered that unwittingly I was deceiving everyone, even myself. Now when clients pay me, I’ll have to give an Academy-Award-worthy performance, because I’m not good at pretending I don’t need the money.

There was only one thing I could do: call another friend to ask if I could visit her office and see a “real” job in action. She agreed (I may have promised to bring donuts for everyone), and the next afternoon I met her at her high-rise, non-fairy-tale office.

Her bathroom-sized office wasn’t much bigger than my home office and her desk had a center drawer with two file drawers on either side, the same as mine. But I quickly reminded myself that I work at a pretend desk.

She uses a Dell laptop, while I use a MacBook Pro. Does having a Mac mean I don’t have a real business and I’m not actually working? I raised my fist in the air and yelled, “Damn you, Steve Jobs! I counted on you to help me compete with the big guys!” My friend, embarrassed while simultaneously questioning why she let me see her office, asked me to bring the volume down a few notches.

During the short time I spent in my friend’s office, two co-workers alerted us about fresh donuts in the conference room and another asked a question my friend had already answered the day before. Twice. Maybe her job was more real than my business, because her office had a steady stream of co-workers dropping by every hour.

As I ended my unscientific research project, I realized one major difference: people who work in “real” offices have a boss. In my pretend office, I’m the boss unless you count my son’s cat that can be a bit demanding, moody and eager to play when I need to (fake) work.

I also realized if pretending to work in my home office involves avoiding a commute, working my own hours, and wearing comfortable clothes, I’m fine continuing my daily charade.

I only hope my clients understand.


  1. I guess I’ve been pretending too!
    Anthony Caruso recently posted..Oreo Cheesecake Cookies (Guilt-free and Gluten-free)My Profile

  2. I think most of the people I know – especially those “working” parents who ask me to pick up their kids, let their dog out, etc… etc. Thankfully, my husband isn’t one of those who think I don’t work because I work at home. Although my son accused me of just playing on the computer all day!
    Suerae Stein recently posted..Fab Foto Friday – Contrast…My Profile

  3. I have both kinds of offices- and no boss (sorry, folks, I’m still your boss whether I work from home, our office, or the clients’ facilities)…
    And, my work is always pretend. I have to pretend that the problems that pop up each hour of each day can’t ruin our business, the business of our clients, or the relationships among the other folks around… Because, by doing so, I (and all of us) can work together to keep things running optimally and making a profit…
    Let’s hear it for pretending…Because until I die- and our corporation dies as well, we’ll keep on keeping on doing what we do- which is to help folks make a profit!
    RAAckerman @ recently posted..Food, Glorious FoodMy Profile

  4. I guess I’ve been pretending too. I wonder why I’m so tired at the end of the day… maybe I’m just “pretend” tired. Love the post. When I tell people that I work from home, their eyes glaze over. Sigh.

    • I get pretend tired too. If only I could learn to pretend sleep. Unfortunately, I like the real thing too much!

      Sometimes I get the same response when I tell people I work from home. Either they say that they wish they could work from home or they admit they couldn’t do it because they would get too distracted.
      Lisa recently posted..Are You Working From Home or Just Pretending?My Profile

  5. Well, huh … I thought for sure that was real money I get that has been paying real bills, especially during the 15 months my hubby was laid off a couple years ago! 🙂

    Great post!! Honestly, I think people who work those “real” jobs are just jealous of us with our “pretend” jobs.

    By the way – I am typing this on a MacBook Pro, too! 😉
    K’Lee Banks recently posted..November=NaBloPoMoMy Profile

  6. If those are the characteristics, then I guess most of the time those 50 hrs I am pretending each week for a paycheck to pay the bills are at least productive pretending!

  7. This makes me so happy 🙂
    Cassandra recently posted..A Goddess Garden Etsy Shop – Artwork Clean OutMy Profile

  8. Oh my God! Almost everyone! Check out my latest post. I “ranted” about it there.
    It used to hurt me bad. Not anymore! 😀
    Cham Cuartero:D recently posted..What I Do For A Living, What I Do With My LIFEMy Profile

  9. Maria Araujo says:

    Those folks have tiny minds! They can’t begin to comprehend all we do.

    Especially those who ask us for favors or drop by for a visit….unscheduled/uninvited….. and then can’t take a kind hint to…..leave. Do I go visit you at work?!

  10. Really?? You mean the money I transfer from PayPal to my bank account is not real? I’ve been paying my bills with monopoly money? But I never get any notices that my bills are overdue…hmm I wonder why??

    I like pretending to work at home and I’ll keep making monopoly money. 🙂

  11. I love this post! So tongue in cheek but OH SO TRUE!! We really don’t get taken seriously by everyone do we?
    Alyssa recently posted..3 Basic Business NeedsMy Profile

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