One reason why many people want to work at home is the flexibility. They like the notion of taking breaks relatively freely, being able to pick the kids up from school, and so forth. It just sounds good. But is that the reality or just a fantasy of work from home flexibility?

That depends on what you do. Some work at home jobs really are that flexible. Others aren’t.

Many employers want their home based employees to stick to a schedule. If you’re lucky, it’s one you set, but sometimes it’s the one your employer wants you to work, just as with outside the home jobs. But there really can be an expectation that you stick to your schedule.

That’s how it was when I was a medical transcriptionist. They needed employees to send in a work schedule so they would know about how much work would get done at any particular time. If you didn’t work your proper hours, it messed with their turnaround times. A minor switch wasn’t too horrible for them, but still not something they liked.

Customer service and other telephone based work at home jobs can be even pickier about the hours you work. After all, if you aren’t there to answer the phone on time, that’s a problem for the customer, and the company can lose orders or have angry customers whose questions are only being answered after an excessive wait. Call wait time is a very important metric for these companies, and you need to do your part if you want to remain employed with them.

Are Home Business Opportunities Flexible?

Home businesses can be more flexible or not. Once again, it depends on what you’re doing. If you need to talk to a lot of people, you probably have to keep somewhat regular hours. If you’re doing a party for your direct sales business, you’d better be on time.

Blogging and affiliate marketing, on the other hand, can be very flexible, although that doesn’t mean you can totally slack off on them. You can commit to posting a blog post every day, for example, but the time it posts doesn’t have to have anything to do with when you wrote it.

The simple truth is that most home business owners work really hard. There aren’t many thriving on a four hour work week, especially when you’re just getting started. It’s far more common to work long hours during the day and into the night, plus weekends. It’s flexible, sure, in that you can take a little time for yourself as you please, but too much time off limits your productivity, which can limit your income, depending on where you’re at with your business. Sure, it’s easy to make it to doctor appointments and such, but there’s still a lot of hard work.

What If You Need Flexibility?

If you really need a flexible work at home job, take that into consideration as you look for work. Some jobs just aren’t going to work out well for you if you will have a lot of interruptions to your work time.

This is something you can bring up during interviews for jobs; just make sure you make it clear that you can get the requested number of hours in even if they’re a little more irregular than how others do it. You don’t want to sound as though you’ll just slack off all the time. You want to know before you accept the job that it will meet your needs.

As for home businesses, really look at what it will take to succeed. This is highly variable even if you are following someone’s advice on it. Don’t assume it’s going to be as easy as it sounds – what comes quickly for someone else may be a struggle for you. Consider how much time you might need to spend interacting with others, and if that will work for you.

All in all, it’s possible to have a lot of flexibility when you work at home, but it’s not a guarantee. Take a look at what you’re getting yourself into before it becomes an issue.