Commute

I was reading in the NY Times that workers and bosses are “getting creative” about the high price of gas.  You know, employers are offering more money, bus passes, four day work weeks, car pooling options, and even more fuel efficient cars. But one thing that many are now doing is working from home.  And why not! Many jobs require you to sit at a computer, so if you’re going to sit while working, why not sit at home.

I like to think that the company Julie works for is forward thinking because she works from home. But the reality is that businesses are driven by the balance sheet and when they went to the “work from home” model, it was solely for financial reasons.

It has benefits and liabilities, though.  The benefits are that you eliminate a commute, you save on gas, cut down on pollution, car repair, and just general fatigue that goes with the long slog to work.  So that’s good.  Part of my old job was reporting traffic conditions in the morning, and on some days I was so happy that I was at work (even though I had to get up at 4am) and not on the freeway trying to get to work when I was talking about some big accident. Now that I’m, um, “between jobs,” I rather like the fact that I don’t have to get in the car every morning and drive to the office–even though my commute was only 25 minutes of freeway driving on light traffic days. It sucks not having money, but it would be nice to have a job like Julie’s where I didn’t have to be at an office every weekday.

But there are some liabilities when working from home, and that is you’re working from home.The lines between your work life and private life blur. With a flexible “at home” schedule, employers probably expect you to be available at a moment’s notice, and there’s reduced interaction with fellow employee.  If you’re doing a job that’s collaborative, working from home could be a problem since your primary modes of communication would be email, IM, phone, and video conference.  I don’t know about you, but if I’m collaborating on a project, it’s important to be in the same location as my co-worker. But if I need to focus, having co-workers around can be annoying ’cause they want to chat about … well, nothing really. Okay, it’s usually about other co-workers, bitching about this or that, and other office politics crap.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to hear gossip, but only when I have time for it.

And right now, I have time. Did you hear that Emily Robison from the Dixie Chicks is getting a divorce?  Oh, and so is Morgan Freeman. OMG!

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