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Self employment, Virtual employment and Being the boss when you live with chronic illness

Posted Feb 10 2009 10:21am

Are you thinking: it’s got to be easier to work for myself rather than dragging myself into work every day?

A reader asked me to writ e about this: I would really like to see more profiles with people who own their own business like you. I am so demanding on myself, that when I am sick or in pain, I feel guilty about not going to work. I would rather not apologize for not being able to come to work and work when I can because I know I am not a slacker.

First , we’ve devoted a chapter to this in Women, Work and Autoimmune Disease: Keep Working, Girlfriend!

I could devote several blog posts to this topic but I’ll limit this to the highlights.

Which is seems like a good fit for you? W orking virtually for an employer, working solo for yourself orrunning your own business.

Working virtually for an employer (or even virtually with some travel to an office ) means you’ve eliminated most of the travel issues. When you live with a chronic illness, this is almost always a big plus. It also means that if you don’t feel well, you don’t have to face other people. Having an employer means that you can rely on a paycheck and maybe even get some benefits. But depending on how flexible the hours and schedule are, you can still be tied into working when you don’t feel well. And it means that you still have to answer to a boss who expects performance standards.

Working solo, for yourself, gives you control over your schedule. You don’t have to deal with difficult supervisors or colleagues who don’t understand or are unwilling to be flexible to your needs. But if your work involves client meetings, even virtual ones, you have a schedule and you’re required to “show up” on time. With unpredictable illness, this is tough. Clients, like a boss, have expectations. When they’re not met, the client is unhappy. When you’re sick, there’s no back- up team nor do you get paid for what you can’t bill. Finally, there are all of the other issues around self employment including start up costs and reduced salary, the isolation of working alone and the need to be self motivated.

Running a business with employees means that you don’t have a supervisor looking over your shoulder (unless there are stockholders). People who report to you rely on you to be available and to set an example. It also means that you are responsible for others and their paycheck. This can be a source of tremendous pressure.

Do you fit into any of these descriptions?
What is it like for you? If you’re working for others, do any of the above sound desirable now?

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