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The Homeworker: 'Please - Don't call me a homeworker', TTG

I was delighted to be asked to write another piece for the Travel Trade Gazette's monthly homeworker column - written by homeworkers, for homeworkers.


This time I tackled the fact that I am not actually a huge fan of the term “homeworker” and am pleased to have started an industry debate. 😊


 

Please bear with me. I haven’t left the country for six months and my last day off was 1 January. Quite frankly, I’m grumpy.


Where better then to vent my spleen than the hallowed (digital) pages of TTG, although given the title of this column, it feels a little cheeky to bite the hand that feeds, but I’ve been holding my tongue for 12 years and I feel the time is right for an uprising.

So strap-in while I saddle-up and mount my high horse for the next few paragraphs. Call me an irascible old woman with ideas above her station, if you dare, but I absolutely detest the term "homeworker".

I know, I know. It’s a firmly established term within the industry, and one which is habitually used, even by the travel franchisees themselves. But against the backdrop of the technological evolutions of the 2020s, this hackneyed idiom feels dated, inappropriate and – I’m going to say it out loud – horribly derogatory.

It’s not the 1980s. I’m not flogging Tupperware from my backdoor in order to fund an expensive Avon habit. I do not leave fruity business cards in telephone boxes in the hope of a nibble.

Just like a high street agent, I’m charged with ensuring that my clients’ annual leave is filled with fun and frolics, a burden of responsibility I do not take lightly.

However, unlike a high street agent, I’m not salaried, I do not have fixed hours, and I am not paid for my own downtime. I also invest my own hard-earned in marketing, events and educationals.


Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not looking for violins. In return for the long hours, the indignity of peaks (don’t get me started – that’s for my next column), the midnight Whatsapps and persistently interrupted me-time, I have the opportunity to earn a pretty hefty wedge, far more than a salaried high street agent. That’s why I chose this more challenging path.

Is it just me? Do I need to check myself? I’ve dared to raise this gripe with industry peers on occasion and was quite surprised by some of the responses. One leading travel luminary responded: "You work from home, you’re a homeworker – live with it."

Really? My mate is an operations director who works from her home office. Would you apply the same logic? I can assure you that she wouldn’t respond well. Neither would my husband, a self-employed sound editor, currently carrying out contract work from his home studio.

Another colleague, a fellow franchisee with a thriving business, jeered at the very idea that we might call ourselves business owners or entrepreneurs – his card has obviously been marked for eternity – but I was stunned by the perceived lack of self respect.


Almost a year ago, I had the opportunity to move my franchise to a more touchy-feely community, one with a far higher ratio of free-thinking individuals to industry hacks.

Around three months in, I realised the word "homeworker" doesn’t exist in their vocabulary. They have somehow managed to effortlessly eschew this aggravating industry "tick". Go them/ us!

Rather ironically, another of my bugbears are ridiculously extravagant job titles, created to massage the ego and obfuscate the reality of the task in hand.

I’m not asking for some highfalutin job description, just to be recognised for what I am – a travel agent. The reference to the location of my office has no bearing whatsoever on what I do.

Right, I’m off to scrape my nails down a blackboard for some light relief.


 

Jo Shayler-Tarrant of Jo Shayler Holidays is a travel agent. She was named Home-Based Agent of the Year at the 2021 Travel Industry Awards by TTG (sorry Jo!), and went on to be crowned UK and Ireland Travel Agent of the Year. She lives by the sea in Frinton on the north Essex coast.


 

THE HOMEWORKER FROM TTG


The Homeworker from TTG takes you deeper into the world of homeworking. Columns are written by homeworkers for homeworkers and their peers, providing insight, support, reassurance – and inspiration.


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