TribLIVE

| Opinion/The Review

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Telecommuting: Home alone

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Letters home ...

Traveling abroad for personal, educational or professional reasons?

Why not share your impressions — and those of residents of foreign countries about the United States — with Trib readers in 150 words?

The world's a big place. Bring it home with Letters Home.

Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or cmcnickle@tribweb.com).

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Saturday, March 9, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

Last week, Best Buy joined Yahoo to ban employees from telecommuting — a subject on which I am becoming an expert.

As a self-employed writer, I telecommute every day. Thanks to the Internet and my cell phone, I can work for clients from anywhere — my home office, a coffee shop, a campsite in the woods.

And it's starting to get to me.

Initially, I thought I'd achieved a dream. I wear blue jeans every day. I set my own schedule. No longer do I waste time in rush-hour traffic or sit in office meetings as colleagues lick the boss's boots.

But it can sure be isolating at times.

A year ago, I moved back to a house I own in the country. Sometimes, I spend long mornings and afternoons alone there — just me and my computer. I find myself craving basic human interaction.

Last week, for instance, a telemarketer called. In the past, I rushed such people off the phone, but no longer.

Telemarketer: “Would you like to buy the Acme security service?”

Me: “No, but how's the weather where you are? I hear spring is coming late this year.”

Working from home has also caused me grief from my neighbors. I overheard them talking about me one day.

Neighbor 1: “Do you think he's in the witness protection program?”

Neighbor 2: “I don't know, but he should get a pet.”

They think a dog would give me needed company during the day, but I don't want the responsibility, as I am often not home.

I did try to hire a 24-year-old Swedish nanny, but, regrettably, the nanny agency assured me I had to have a family to hire one.

A month ago, some religious fanatics knocked on my door to give me pamphlets and magazines.

Religious fanatic: “You are doomed to hell if you do not read our pamphlets. Will you support us with a donation?”

Me: “No, but I hear it's going to rain tomorrow. Would you like some coffee? Do you think I should put rose bushes in the planter?”

There are other problems caused by working alone out of one's home. On the rare occasions when local clients visit my home office, I'm embarrassed to give them directions.

Me: “Make a sharp left at Homer's bug zapper.”

Client: “OK?”

Me: “Then turn right at Orville's compost pile.”

So, I'm not so enamored with the home-office concept anymore.

Humans don't like to be alone. We are social animals — so social, in fact, that I'm beginning to think Best Buy and Yahoo are onto something: that it is better to spend long days confined to corporate cubicles than it is to work in total freedom, isolated at home.

But both companies are bucking a trend that is surely here to stay.

According to a recent Census Bureau report, more workers are telecommuting than ever before — some 13.4 million in 2010, compared to 9.2 million in 1997.

With fewer employees taking up costly office space, more companies are boosting productivity and reducing costs — and they don't want to give up such gains.

And like every issue these days, telecommuting has become a political issue. The less you drive your car to the office, the fewer carbon emissions you put into the air.

Thus, the telecommuting trend will likely continue.

So, if you still dream about working from home, be careful what you wish for. Before long, you'll be craving conversations with telemarketers, religious fanatics and anyone else who will listen.

Which reminds me: The postal carrier will be at my house soon. I need to get the coffee started.

Tom Purcell, a freelance writer, lives in Library. Visit him on the web at TomPurcell.com. E-mail him at: Tom@TomPurcell.com

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Steelers RB Archer trying to catch up after tough rookie season
  2. Steelers LB Timmons has grown into leadership role on defense
  3. Judge lets New Kensington Ten Commandments monument stand
  4. Consol takes $603 million loss in second quarter
  5. Steelers notebook: Backup QB Gradkowski remains out with shoulder issue
  6. Rising East Liberty out of reach for Pittsburgh’s poor
  7. Leisure, hospitality lead Pittsburgh area job gains
  8. Pirates third baseman Ramirez’s last ride is about winning a ring
  9. Dollars and sense: High cost of child care keeps many out of work force
  10. UPMC, Allegheny Health Network employees win lunch-pay lawsuits
  11. Watering garden right during summer’s high temperatures makes difference