I work from home. I spend the first part of the day in my pajamas. Around lunchtime, I take the dog out for a nice, long, head-clearing walk. I listen to a lot of NPR and podcasts to create the illusion that I have people to talk to. But it hasn’t always been this way.
I’ve worked in my share of offices, large and small. Before I started working from home full-time I worked in a very small office. Since our company’s home-office was several states away, so we were basically working remotely. When I started, there were five of us who came into the office on a regular basis. When our company finally decided it was a waste of money to keep our office open, there were only two of us left — and my co-worker had abandoned the office long before it closed. That winter we were getting large amounts of snow a few times a week, and more often than not I couldn’t get to the office. It quickly became clear that I did not need to be in the office every day.
So I moved closer to my friends and family, and decided to go into the office once a week just to check the mail and whatnot. It wasn’t long after that that we got word we’d be closing the office.
Rather than be worried that I’d slack off and watch episodes of Real Housewives all day, my boss was concerned that I’d work too much. It’s been said that, when you work from home, it can be hard to turn it off. I’m lucky to have a designated office, and most of the time I’m able to clock out at a decent time. Because of the nature of my job, I can be more flexible than most. I have deadlines to meet, but for the most part, my job doesn’t require that I’m tied to the desk for 8 hours a day. I can walk the dog, or go to a dentist appointment, or run errands, and then just work a little later in the evening.
I love working from home. I don’t know what I would do if I had to go back to working from an office full-time, but sometimes I think it wouldn’t be bad to have a small office somewhere that I could go to a couple times a week. This mostly occurs to me when I wish I had an editorial assistant. Hiring someone becomes trickier when you have to invite them to your home for an interview. You also notice plenty of changes in your routine.
For instance, you will suddenly realize — if you’re a woman — that you go through more toilet paper. At the end of the day, instead of just wishing you were home already, you find yourself looking for things to do outside of the house. You’ll call your friends and say things like, “Hey, I know it’s a Tuesday, but I was wondering if you wanted to go out and see a lecture about paint drying.” You will also learn that, though you plan to get up early, do a little yoga, have a nice breakfast, and take a shower, you end up rolling out of bed 15 minutes before it’s time to work and spend the first few hours of your day in your pajamas.
I don’t have kids, but my former boss — who happened to work from home for most of the week — did and it’s not an easy balance. I know other people who work from home and have kids, and frankly… it ain’t easy. But if it’s between making that work or shelling out almost as much as you make in daycare fees, then I guess you’ll figure it out.
But there’s a whole gray area in between Marissa Mayer’s declaration that everyone has to come into the office, and the virtual office of the future. People can work from home part-time, or be allowed to have more flexible hours. Perhaps they could work from home from 10-3, and then head home early and start working remotely. And of course, it should probably depend on what your job is.
If your job involves staring at a computer all day while wearing headphones, why the heck do you need to be in an office?
Here’s the thing about telecommuting: It allows you to hire the best people, no matter where they are located. If I had to be in NJ, where my company’s main office is, I couldn’t do it. And it isn’t just me. There are employees in offices all over the country, and in other countries. And rather than lose the talented people working in those offices, the company has wisely chosen to keep remote offices open, and allow people to work from home.
In a few weeks we’ll start to hear the stories of mass exodus from Yahoo!. The best people will start getting snatched up by companies that understand attracting the best and brightest means giving them what they need to be happy at work. Sometimes that means big salaries, and good benefits. Sometimes it means a video game room or awesome cafeteria food. Sometimes, that means letting them work from where ever it is that suits them best.