People think the life of a freelancer or someone who works remotely to be full of glamour and free time – lingering lunches, mid-day pedicures, relaxing naps. Such is not the case. If a freelancer wants to stay competitive, they need to be working 24/7, and probably have a lot less free time than their friends who work in offices.
However, they do find some ways to save time – such as forgetting to eat. Or shower. Or get dressed. It's not pretty out there. Some of our self-employed friends share their honest truths about working from home…
Bryce Gruber-Hermon, freelance writer
Even if you write about makeup, it's pretty standard to go days without wearing any.
Dara Avenius, publicist
Oh god...all the delivery guys know my froggy robe.
Wendy Rose Gould, freelance writer
My cats always think phone interviews are an invitation to have a full-fledged conversation with me and will sit outside my closed door meowing profusely as if the world is about to end. Also, my boyfriend (who I live with) also works from home and I love having him as a "co-worker." We get to hang out during the day (hello 3pm hugs and shared lunches) and keep each other motivated!
Megan Zander, freelance writer
Lunch is never the same meal or at the same time. Some days I'm so busy I forget to eat, other days I make a super healthy salad and declare myself a real adult, sometimes I'm stress eating frosting with a spoon as I try to make deadline.
Kate Winick, writer
My biggest occupational hazard is sitting cross-legged on my couch so long that my foot falls asleep without me realizing, and then when I stand up I nearly fall over my coffee table. It's happened...more than once.
Sue Campbell, freelance travel writer
I've been working from home for 30 years. I forget what it's like to dress up to go to an office or commute. I'm happy that the only time I dress well is when I have to go on a press trip.
I've biked to the corner store and realized I was still wearing my slippers when I got there!
Also, looking up at the clock at 5 pm and not remembering whether I had a shower or not, that happens a lot.
Gloria Yang, publicist
I don't always work from home, but when I do, I follow the same schedule. I sit my butt down in front of the computer at 9. If I feel unmotivated, I put makeup on—red lipstick to be exact.
Michele Herrmann, freelance writer
Sometimes my lunch break involves taking a 30-minute nap at about 3 or 4 in the afternoon. It's been a big help.
Patricia Dixon, journalist
My sins cannot be revealed here- alas, there are many. I'm still gainfully and sinfully self-employed.
Rachelle Pachtman, publicist
Your dog barks while you are on important conference call because FedEx is at door. Used to be more of an issue. Not quite as much any more.
Julia Dellitt, marketing expert
I have to really watch the urge to do things around the house instead of work. I'm not a clean freak, but when I work from home, all of sudden it feels like I have *so much free time* to do the dishes, throw in some laundry, organize a drawer.. all those "little" chores end up stealing work time slowly but surely and I always regret it later.
Joanna Fantozzi, food writer
You have no one to blame on getting distracted but yourself, sadly (if you live alone).
Jane Daly, beauty writer
Defiantly 2-3 pm in my robe. I feel a sense of shame every time. Also, my UPS guy added me on FB and I've run into other couriers out and about who usually yell “sorry don't have anything for you today!"
Emily Farris, writer
On the days I don't go out for coffee and make it at home, sometimes I forget to brush my teeth until 4 pm. Because it's so much a part of my getting-ready routine. And yes, I realize how disgusting this is.
Stacey Rene Russell, publicist
Sometimes I get dressed just to feel "normal." But getting dressed is PJs to LuLu Lemon.
Jayne Morehouse, publicist
I get dressed and do hair and makeup before I even come downstairs. But...the cats have been known to jump into a Skype call every now and then. They want to see who else is talking.
Kaitlin Menza, writer
Sometimes my iPhone pedometer app shows under 100 steps because, well, you know. If someone cancels evening plans, like drinks or dinner, it's actually an immense bummer because that means I'm not going outside today (or showering) after all. Those memes about it being such a relief when someone cancels plans no longer apply to me!
Esti Berkowitz, blogger
I get all dressed for motivation purposes and get to work (my laptop on the dining room table) as soon as kids get to school. I barely leave my desk and often forget to make lunch and drink enough water.
Bradley Tuck, publicist
I actually have a rule. I don't do any work until I've showered, had coffee, and then dressed properly in a button down shirt, so that I feel that I'm 'at work'. At weekends, lord, I look like a hot mess , but Monday to Friday I dress as if I work at an agency. In my office with dog hair all over the floor. Go figure.
Amber Browning-Coyle , Executive Producer and Host of Spotlight on Giving and Spotlight on TV
I have been working on my computer in my underwear and when Amazon comes to deliver I'll throw on my big wool coat that hangs next to the door. They totally know I'm almost naked, but thankfully don't say much.
Maureen Pollack, inventor of the Water Slyde
I've done video podcasts with no pants on. I'm so not saying which ones.
Harper Spero, business coach and consultant
Having a Skype call with a client where my hair is done, makeup is on, nice shirt and no pants.
When I worked from home my lunch hour was the gym and I can't tell you how many conference calls I have been on and went to the loo and put the phone on mute. Sometimes I would forget it was on mute and be asked to weigh in on a strategy and heard, Oh, I guess she dropped the call. Yikes. The worst is having to video con when you are lazy. Having to brush hair and put on lipstick whilst still in sweats or nighty.
Candice Kilpatrick Brathwaite, social media expert
The highlight of my workday is when my coworkers in Finland are awake to chat on slack. Also I'm usually both pantless and under an electric blanket. I have done a call in the bathtub.
Traci Coulter, publicist
There are days when I get home from a run or a Soul Cycle class only to realize eight hours later I forgot to shower. And there have been days when the building manager would knock on my door for something and say “sorry, didn't think you'd still be in bed" because I'm wearing pjs, at 1 pm. The whole thing about being more productive with office clothes on is a theory I definitely don't believe anymore.
Debra Locker Griffin, publicist
Both of my huge dogs - because one polar bear is not enough - appeared on a group Skype last week.
Sarah Haynes Heath, beauty expert
Things I often do on conference calls: pluck eye brows, cut toenails, inspect for nose hairs, clean kitty litter, make faces in the mirror, get distracted by dirty dishes in the sink, roll my eyes, thank God I can run to Target at any time for things I don't need.
Bonnie Winston, matchmaker
I eat like no one's watching because no one is. A lot of time I eat standing up and sometimes over the sink. I drink straight out of the water bottles and put them back in.
Kaeli Conforti, travel writer
Most of the time, my lunch hours were really shower time followed by a power nap. The hardest part for me was (and still is) having an end time when I work from home. It's always so easy to just say, oh, let me finish this up, and before I know it, it's 10pm!
Samantha Slaven-Bick, publicist
Sometimes I work from the bed in the afternoons while simultaneously binge watching Netflix or Amazon shows. I've been known to pick my son up from assorted classes and extracurricular in pajamas. And then I just do errands like that before heading home.
Beate Chelette, author
Sometimes I only look good up to the waist and what's under the desk is yoga pants and dirty feet
Jason Jepson, publicist
My feet are in my pool and a beer is in my hand at noon almost everyday.
Vicki Winters, blogger and content creator
Sometimes I think about showering and try to remember “when was the last time?"
Women of the Middle East have made significant strides in the past decade in a number of sectors, but huge gaps remain within the labor market, especially in leadership roles.
A huge number of institutions have researched and quantified trends of and obstacles to the full utilization of females in the marketplace. Gabriela Ramos, is the Chief-of-Staff to The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an alliance of thirty-six governments seeking to improve economic growth and world trade. The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
To realize the possibilities, attention needs to be directed toward the most significantly underutilized resource: the women of MENA—the Middle East and North African countries. Educating the men of MENA on the importance of women working and holding leadership roles will improve the economies of those nations and lead to both national and global rewards, such as dissolving cultural stereotypes.
The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
In order to put this issue in perspective, the MENA region has the second highest unemployment rate in the world. According to the World Bank, more women than men go to universities, but for many in this region the journey ends with a degree. After graduating, women tend to stay at home due to social and cultural pressures. In 2017, the OECD estimated that unemployment among women is costing some $575 billion annually.
Forbes and Arabian Business have each published lists of the 100 most powerful Arab businesswomen, yet most female entrepreneurs in the Middle East run family businesses. When it comes to managerial positions, the MENA region ranks last with only 13 percent women among the total number of CEOs according to the Swiss-based International Labor Organization (ILO.org publication "Women Business Management – Gaining Momentum in the Middle East and Africa.")
The lopsided tendency that keeps women in family business—remaining tethered to the home even if they are prepared and capable of moving "into the world"—is noted in a report prepared by OECD. The survey provides factual support for the intuitive concern of cultural and political imbalance impeding the progression of women into the workplace who are otherwise fully capable. The nations of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt all prohibit gender discrimination and legislate equal pay for men and women, but the progressive-sounding checklist of their rights fails to impact on "hiring, wages or women's labor force participation." In fact, the report continues, "Women in the six countries receive inferior wages for equal work… and in the private sector women rarely hold management positions or sit on the boards of companies."
This is more than a feminist mantra; MENA's males must learn that they, too, will benefit from accelerating the entry of women into the workforce on all levels. Some projections of value lost because women are unable to work; or conversely the amount of potential revenue are significant.
Elissa Freiha, founder of Womena, the leading empowerment platform in the Middle East, emphasizes the financial benefit of having women in high positions when communicating with men's groups. From a business perspective it has been proven through the market Index provider MSCI.com that companies with more women on their boards deliver 36% better equity than those lacking board diversity.
She challenges companies with the knowledge that, "From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies."
Freiha agrees that educating MENA's men will turn the tide. "It is difficult to argue culturally that a woman can disconnect herself from the household and community." Her own father, a United Arab Emirates native of Lebanese descent, preferred she get a job in the government, but after one month she quit and went on to create Womena. The fact that this win-lose situation was supported by an open-minded father, further propelled Freiha to start her own business.
"From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies." - Elissa Frei
While not all men share the open-mindedness of Freiha's dad, a striking number of MENA's women have convincingly demonstrated that the talent pool is skilled, capable and all-around impressive. One such woman is the prominent Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi, who is currently serving as a cabinet minister in the United Arab Emirates and previously headed a successful IT strategy company.
Al-Qasimi exemplifies the potential for MENA women in leadership, but how can one example become a cultural norm? Marcello Bonatto, who runs Re: Coded, a program that teaches young people in Turkey, Iraq and Yemen to become technology leaders, believes that multigenerational education is the key. He believes in the importance of educating the parent along with their offspring, "particularly when it comes to women." Bonatto notes the number of conflict-affected youth who have succeeded through his program—a boot camp training in technology.
The United Nations Women alongside Promundo—a Brazil-based NGO that promotes gender-equality and non-violence—sponsored a study titled, "International Men and Gender Equality Survey of the Middle East and North Africa in 2017."
This study surveyed ten thousand men and women between the ages of 18 and 59 across both rural and urban areas in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority. It reports that, "Men expected to control their wives' personal freedoms from what they wear to when the couple has sex." Additionally, a mere one-tenth to one-third of men reported having recently carried out a more conventionally "female task" in their home.
Although the MENA region is steeped in historical tribal culture, the current conflict of gender roles is at a crucial turning point. Masculine power structures still play a huge role in these countries, and despite this obstacle, women are on the rise. But without the support of their nations' men this will continue to be an uphill battle. And if change won't come from the culture, maybe it can come from money. By educating MENA's men about these issues, the estimated $27 trillion that women could bring to their economies might not be a dream. Women have been empowering themselves for years, but it's time for MENA's men to empower its women.