I am sure everyone has their own views on this – I am here to share my experience.
Growing up I was always told “never work for friends or family.” The thought being that, should something ever “go wrong” either at work or in the personal relationship, it would colour the other relationship. Work problems spill over into family get-togethers, and family squabbles get brought to the workplace. I see how it makes sense that these things could and do happen, but I also see so many good things to it.
As recently as 4.5 months ago, I made the decision to return to working outside of the home. I had no clue what I wanted to do but I knew that it needed to work with our busy schedule which revolves around 5 small children. At the time the family business owned and run by my two uncles was in need of a full time receptionist. It is something I have some experience with. I had actually did a high school term as a student in their office two days a week, a whole lot of years ago.
Needless to say the business sure has grown from then until now. I made the call – I needed a job, and he needed a receptionist. Really, what could go wrong?
The offer was on the table and I waited. My uncle responded stating that we would try it a week and see if we can keep “work” at work and “family” at home, then this could work. Who knew that accepting that job would mean a world of change for me. A one week trial turned into a second week…which turned into the job I am in now with no turning back.
Has it been easy? Nope not one bit.
Has it been rewarding? Oh absolutely, and in more ways than I could imagine!
Things that have happened that I wouldn’t have happen in other employment situations, we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses going in. They know my ups and downs, and I know theirs. This can be a good thing. I know my one Uncle is great at handling stress. Nothing throws him. My other Uncle knows absolutely nothing about computers. There is no hiding it, he just doesn’t get them. That’s ok. To me when things get stressful go to the Uncle that can handle it, explain what’s going on and he helps me through. Or when things come in that my other uncle needs on the computer – don’t ask him to reply to an email. Print it off. Show it to him. He’ll either call them back or let me know what to say. It’s a lot easier then expecting people to do stuff they don’t understand. For me they know I ‘get’ technology. I have always been playing on computers, smart phones, tablets, for as long as I can remember. Therefore, my uncles know they can put me in-front of technology and I won’t get scared away. This may be why I run a computer, two work cell phones, an office phone with two lines, and have a personal phone to juggle. This also means I am the first person to get called on when something needs to be done with technology that they don’t know how to do (such as scanning something).
We know each others personal lives. This can have its pros and cons for sure. But I know from experience, most employers go running when I’ve applied for a job and they find out I have five small children. Sure it requires a bit more flexibility once in a while, but family gets that. They don’t think twice when I need to tend to a kid first. That means they get to tend to their kids/wife/etc. first sometimes too. They know when the good things are going on and can help congratulate me or cheer me on. They know when the bad things are happening too. You don’t have to call your boss and say ‘this has happened I need some time off to deal with it.’ They know it’s happened they can be an ear to listen if needed. That being said – they know your embarrassing moments – and those can be used against you at any point in time.
I feel there is more dedication when it’s family. Previously if a job wasn’t working out well or I was struggling through a hard time, I didn’t feel I ‘owed’ anything to anyone except for myself. Now I feel different. I owe it to my uncles to do my best as much as possible. I can’t just say oh well and not show up. These are people I will face for the rest of my lives. Working together for the best results within the business keeps family get-togethers going that much more smoothly.
We know where each other lives. Not in that weird creepy way. But in the way that my Uncles know I have my phone on me if something comes up after ‘my hours’ and they will call me knowing that I’ll do what I can. Just as I know if something comes up after hours I know where to find them. We are all there for each other.
Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. Would I have a lot of questions still? Yep, sure would. And to ask the lingering question – do we keep business and family separate? Not anymore. It was a great thought – it lasted a week. Reality is when you work with family or friends, business and family then blends. You need to be willing to work that much harder to get through any rough times to see the benefits of the good times.