Freelance Question: Can You Work From Home With House Guests?


I received an e-mail earlier this week, from a reader who is expecting guests for the holidays.  She asks:


“I’m having relatives visit for a week during the holidays.  I don’t have a separate office, I have a desk in the corner of my family room.  I’m not sure how I’ll be able to work with house guests. Should I tell my clients that I’m taking the week off?”


Can Freelancers Work From Home With House Guests?

This happens to me every other year, when my best friend visits from the other side of the country.  I too have a “corner office”, so I feel your dilemma. Of course you want to spend time with your family, but at the same time you need to spend time on your business.  While every situation is unique, here’s what I do:

I do not tell clients I’m on vacation.  As a freelancer, you are not required to inform your  clients of your daily schedule. Your only requirement is to deliver a top-notch project on time.

I get as much work done ahead of time as I possibly can. I finish regularly scheduled work for clients early — I don’t send them early, just have them done and ready to be sent when due. I complete personal writing projects ahead of time, if possible, and I schedule my social media posts.  Marketing emails are written and ready to go. This makes for some long days prior to her visit, but I normally only get to see her once a year, so I want to spend as much time not working as possible once she is here.

My friend lives in the Pacific time zone, and I’m in the east, so she’s three hours earlier than I am. She adjusts to the time change slightly, but I usually have an hour or two before she gets up that I can get a little work done.

Now here’s an area where my situation gets unique: my best friend is also quite close to my sister, so I encourage her to spend a couple of days and an overnight with my sis. We were the three musketeers growing up, but the two of them do enjoy some one-on-one time, and I use that alone time to get some work done.

The only time things get too tricky is if a client has an “emergency project” that pops up during this time.  This is where I have to weigh my options:  how long will it take, how much other business does this client give me, can I fit it in my schedule?  If it’s a project that’s going to take a few days, then I’ll either offer an alternative deadline that works with my schedule or I’ll just turn down the assignment altogether.  If it’s a project that is only going to take a couple of hours, and I don’t have anything concrete planned, I’ll do it.  My family and friends know what I do for a living, so I don’t feel guilty saying “I’ve got to get some work done — why don’t you watch TV or read for a couple of hours, and then we’ll have the rest of the day to visit.”

Another option is to outsource to another freelancer.  While you won’t be earning the money as if you had completed the work yourself, you will be taking care of your clients needs — which is essential to sustain a long-term working relationship.  If you choose to go this route, start your search now!  You don’t want to be stuck with a ton of revisions because you hired the wrong person last minute.

Whether or not to work during the holidays or while on vacation is a personal decision that depends on many factors.  With advance preparation — and a lot of overtime beforehand — you should be able to substantially reduce your work load and enjoy some quality time with your family.

Any other freelancers have some advice?  Comment below!

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