Telecommuting: Home alone
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.”
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.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- WPIAL Class AAAA notebook: Pine-Richland has titles in 3 classifications
- Tire comes off, hits oncoming car, kills 1 on Route 28
- Pine-Richland tops defending champ Central Catholic to capture WPIAL title
- The holiday season ushers in the gift of another layer of fashion — the coat
- Air Force reservist apparently settles firing lawsuit against U.S. Steel
- Author DeKok’s ‘Murder in the Stacks’ looks at Penn State student’s 1969 killing
- Report lays out red flags, failures in rearing of shooter at Conn. school
- Former youth volunteer facing federal child pornography charges
- Dick Cavett memoir looks back on more than TV show
- The Word Guy: In formal prose, rely on ‘pleaded,’ not ‘pled’
- Carnegie boy gets to be mayor for a day