Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Reality of Coding from Home with Children

These days I have more going on than audits, updates, and continuing education for CPT and ICD-10 as I eagerly await the arrival of my first child.  The beauty of the internet means I can order all kinds of things for my pregnancy and the baby from the comfort of my recliner and have them delivered directly to my doorstep.  One recent package included a packet of "stuff"  - everything from a baby bottle, to gift cards for obscure things I'm pretty sure I'll never order, to coupons, to a flyer telling me I can work from home as a medical coder while I take care of my baby.

It was the last item that really jumped out at me and gave me pause.  I wasn't really surprised by the claims about making lots of money while working from home.  It wasn't the statement about the "prestige" of working for physicians.  What caught my eye were the pictures on the flyer of women sitting in front of computers with infants on their laps.  Because while I don't know what it's like to be in charge of a baby all day (yet), I do know what it's like to be a coder working from home and the job doesn't lend itself to simultaneous babysitting.

Most days I love working from home.  It's awesome on those days when you know you have to get work done but you don't really feel like taking a shower or being in public first thing in the morning. So yeah, it's great if you are not a morning person! On those days, there's nothing better than shuffling down to my office, coffee cup in hand (okay, so it's half-decaf these days), flipping the switch on my computer, and easing into my day.  Some days I am joined by my eternal lap cat, who could sit on my lap all day if I were a statue.  On some days she wants to sit on my lap while I work, which is generally only okay if I am on a conference call where I don't need to take notes.  Which is pretty much never.

Here's the big secret the flyer doesn't advertise: coding requires an immense amount of concentration and some days I can concentrate pretty well and block out the world.  Other days, I have to shut off all email, the ringer on my phone, and the radio just so I can focus on work.  On those days, I shoo the cat off my desk/lap and try to direct her to her bed in the corner.  If necessary, I can put her in the hallway and close the door.  You can't really shove your kid aside when you need to concentrate.  And you can't code effectively and efficiently with a kid on your lap.  And if you can, then your child isn't getting the attention he/she needs.

The point: coding from home is a nice perk, but it is not a substitute for child care.  Like most other new parents, I'm discovering the joys of budgeting for child care after maternity leave.  And I get it - it's expensive.  

Just in case this post hasn't quite convinced you, maybe this will.  Many remote coding contracts include a clause on child care.  You may be required to promise in writing that you will not engage in child care when you are on the clock.  So if your reason for wanting to code from home is so you can save on child care, coding isn't the job for you.


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