The Fallacies of Working at Home

Today is Thursday. Thursdays are the day I work at home. Last thing I do when I leave work Wednesday is write on the whiteboard outside our office “Amy- working at home Thursday” – and do so with a guilty hand. Because I invariably get remarks on Friday such as, “how was your day off” or “did you have a good day off?” not in a sarcastic bent, but because the concept of telecommuting, even in 2011, is still so foreign. Even though “telecommuting” sounds so 1995, like bag phones. Remember those and how proud we were to tote them around?

Truth is I sit down at my laptop well before 7, log onto the network and IM so everyone knows I am available, and churn out work until close to 5, with few breaks. I get much more accomplished with a day at home, in terms of productive writing and designing, than I do when I am in the office. That is why it works, and why companies such as mine offer it.

I have friends who also do the “day at home” stint. When we discuss this aspect of our jobs, we all admit to having to overcompensate and deal with the guilt complex thrown on us by colleagues who strictly pull their hours on site. Probably similar to the stigma projected at stay-at-home moms, which at one time I was. So we inundate coworkers with the sheer volume work we churn out,with warp-speed responsiveness to emails and IMs, and answer our desk phones – now forwarded to our work mobile- on the first ring,  just to validate that we are working and not watching The Young and The Restless.

Truth is over the years I have known many office mates who simply take up cubicle space, minimizing their browser  or alt-tabbing whenever I walk by, people whose purpose I have yet to ascertain, yet THEY ARE THERE… IN THE FLESH.

Well, today, HERE I AM, 50 miles from work but just wrapped up a 10 hour day. And I admit without any shame I love Thursdays. I love not having to dress or put on a bra, not having a one hour drive, and actually getting a LOT DONE! For those who know me, and know what a stickler I about not going out in public without my hair pin straight and “face” on, in true work-at-home fashion I am posting a photo of me today, at 4:30, in work at home mode- a once in a lifetime public pic:

(okay I am not comfortable enough yet to show my face, but you get the picture!)

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About caffeineravings

I am fighting 40 with fierce opinions and fab obliques (thanks Ab Ripper X). I work in corporate communications where I make it my mission to wade through the mind-numbing business speak and tell employees in a few simple fresh words what they need to know. My blog is my place to rant about what gnaws me today. And to give my stream-of-conscious mind a little legroom...
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One Response to The Fallacies of Working at Home

  1. Nathan Urban says:

    I wish telecommuting, or flextime, was more accepted in this country. Especially for workers with children. Some places of business can be really rigid about work hours and other obsessive but frequently misguided “productivity” measures (like banning web sites at work). In my opinion, it only causes employee resentment and doesn’t actually induce people to do more productive work. It can actually do the opposite, as you say.

    Frankly, in my current job my boss would neither notice nor care if I worked at home every day. I only see him every other month anyway. I come in when I want and go home when I want, although I usually choose to stick to a 9-5 schedule (usually closer to 10-6). I feel no guilt, but then I don’t have coworkers who (intentionally or inadvertently) make me feel guilty. Academic researchers at my level have a lot of freedom, since we don’t have teaching duties and are responsible only for our own projects, although we do sometimes collaborate with others at the university. As long as we get our work done, does it really matter when or where that takes place?

    I’m not looking forward to losing that freedom in my new lab job. While it’s quasi-academic in many respects, they stick to a rigorous work schedule.

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