Here’s the link to my opus on the joys and pitfalls of working from home.
And in case the link goes dead, here’s the text.
Please help me, I’m lonely and want to get fired
Working from home is a lonely world.
No one wants to hear this from me. They dream of working from home. Their commute, their cubicle, the endless memos they are forced to follow like drones in an emotionless society.
Me, I look at commuters around here and I too dream. Ever since I left Bluffton Today as a full-timer four years ago, I have been working from my house.
Before I came to the Lowcountry, I did the most awful commute ever. I spent four hours of my day either taking the train or driving back and forth between Newburgh, N.Y. and New York City.
I dreaded it, until I was able to write a column about the commuting life. Then I found a way to actually appreciate it.
Now, my commute is four minutes if I walk down the hall … really, really slow.
Again, I get it. Poor me. But before you judge, hear me out.
Before I started hosting trivia nights, folks thought I had moved out of town because I had become such a hermit in my home office that folks rarely saw me.
The Wendy’s drive-thru women knew I hadn’t moved. The folks at Amazing Creations could account for me – they saw me dropping off my son.
But other than that, my days have been filled with conference calls and online chats with co-workers. And they are good people, or at least I think they are. Most of them I’ve never met, so they could be as fake as most of my “friends” are on Facebook.
When I worked for sports website Bleacher Report, I’d go out to the San Francisco main office every couple months for a week at a time. And it was the least productive time of those couple months.
Folks talking to each other during the workday. People actually taking lunch breaks and talking by an actual water cooler. Gym memberships actually being used. Co-workers going out for drinks after work to talk crap about other co-workers.
Oh, I missed all of this so much. It made me realize I had been way too productive and cared way too much about giving the company a proper workweek. All these drones still had jobs and I was no better off for all that work.
Just a sedentary hermit with ever-shrinking social skills.
My workplace loneliness has lessened dramatically since former BT co-worker Barry Kaufman moved back to town, took a job working with me and moved in next to me.
But we still care way too much about productivity. Now, there are two people that care about an honest day’s work, so it’s doubly hard to be slackers.
So I’ve gone rogue. I’ve decided to bring in the work-in-the-office environment into my work-at-home cellblock.
I have developed a commute that takes me eight minutes with a stop at the Keurig in the middle.
I am sending myself memos about sexual harassment and company picnics. I have set my pug up at a fake water cooler and made her watch memes and YouTube videos and we laugh and laugh.
It’s just not the same. No matter what I do, I can’t duplicate the joy of the shared camaraderie of wasting company time.
And that’s what it is. I have received the flyers from Regis and these other shared-office spaces meant to create social spaces for work-at-homers.
These businesses are booming in bigger cities and I’m sure eventually it will take hold here. I’ve talked with many work-at-home folks and even talked about starting my own shared-space club for us all to use.
But at the end of the day, we just want the freedom to feel unproductive. Working from home requires a self-discipline that overloads the system. Pretty soon, we’re planning out our days so perfectly that the efficiency becomes a contact high.
That leads us to keep working well past 5 p.m. We know there’s no commute, so we can squeeze every ounce out of the workday.
But none of us want to give up that contact high. We just want to feel like it’s OK to have a life and be less unproductive from time to time. Get up from the computer every once in a while. Take a walk. Play with our kids before dusk.
And so, I’m trying to be a crappier employee and better at living life.
So when you see me at Corner Perk, please, show me a YouTube video of a guinea pig playing trumpet. Tell me about your awful co-workers. Give me a copy of a completely useless memo from your office.
Just please, do it fast. I’ve only allotted 15 minutes for this willy-nilly craziness.
Tim Wood is a freelance writer living in Bluffton. He welcomes your story ideas and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.