Some years back there were widespread rumors in my country of a mysterious group of youth who didn’t work but were living the life – complete with dream cars and fancy homes with even fancier interiors. These youth were a source of fascination and sometimes you would catch radio shows discussing their supposedly eccentric mannerisms. These eccentric mannerisms were nothing but a new wave of interest in online work.

Now, of course, the only logical explanation for their seemingly untraceable source of wealth was that they were into something dark. They must be into the occult or witchcraft. There was a preponderance about what was happening to our youth? How can they sell their souls for just a little bit of luxury in a passing world?

Lo and behold, people were panicking. They gave their neighbors the side eye. They blamed – unsurprisingly – foreign media for brainwashing our youth into thinking a bit of cash was the be-all and end-all of it and don’t they know that there is no such thing as a free lunch?

Fast forward some years and I was deep into exploring work from home options. Being a mother to young children gave me the motivation to see if the world offered more flexibility than traditional work environments did.

As I was researching and sort of surveying the remote work options available, I suddenly remembered the story of the devil worshipping youth. And dear me did I laugh. It was such a hilarious sight, seeing the light the moment as it clicked in my mind exactly what those youth were up to all those years back when hardly anyone imagined that you could really earn a living working remotely.

While nowadays there is more awareness in my country partly thanks to the government’s  Ajira initiative during which there were massive campaigns designed to raise awareness of the viability of online work among other things.

There are still a lot of misconceptions surrounding online work. Just a few days ago a post was put up in one of the Facebook freelance groups that I am a part of asking members to share strange comments that had been thrown their way due to their online work.

Within minutes of the post going up there was a flurry of seriously hysterical comments. These comments were ranging from accusations of being secret nighttime thieves to pity about not having a ‘real job’. What exactly is a real job anyway? And who decided that?

While online work is not for everyone, it is an outstanding option for those seeking increased flexibility; more creative license and can muster enough self-discipline to actually get the work done. Because believe it or not, online workers also have to meet deadlines and deliver quality work. They don’t (not usually anyway) work for automated robotic systems, they deal with real people just geographically removed.

Online work may not provide the same solid set of benefits your usual day job does but it is an option that needs to be made more visible, plausible and accessible. This is more so to the women of the world. To the mothers who have anxiety about leaving their angels with strangers and those who do not have the luxury of having willing family close by.

Because earning a decent wage from online work is a thing that is happening all over the world. It is not just a side hustle. It is not without effort. It is not just for the techies among us. It is good honest work that can keep you up at night navigating time zones and trying to beat looming deadlines. It is work, just like any other work, deserving of respect.

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  • Fatuma Abdullahi

    Co-owner of a ladies only gym, a freelance writer and a poet. She is also a business graduate from USIU - AFRICA, a tech enthusiast and a mummy to two energetic boys. She lives in Nairobi, Kenya with her husband.