Every modern professional dreams of telecommuting. But is avoiding office drama and the freedom of being alone with your laptop really as good as it sounds?
When I was interviewing for my current job, I heard the magic words: “ability to work from home.” I thought it was almost too good to be true, even though my division was already half virtual, so I didn’t even bring it up until I’d worked there for six months. Then I approached my boss and asked about working virtually.
She agreed and I eased into telecommuting, working from home two or three days a week.
Initially, the benefits of being part of a virtual office were all too apparent. Without a notoriously stressful and expensive morning commute in Los Angeles, I can start my workday fully relaxed — even before 9am.
In the comfort of my own apartment, I attend conference calls, check emails on my work laptop, and go about my day with the confidence that my company trusts me enough to give me this form of freedom. My dog is ecstatic to have me around, and I save money by never being tempted to go out for lunch. If I feel stir crazy I can simply go outside or run a quick errand. There is no negativity, no office gossip, no strict dress code, no bad coffee. It’s just me and my work.
But it’s not all smooth sailing, and there are days where being shut in my home alone with no coworkers can feel isolating.
Other stuff comes up too. There was the day when my Internet was down and the printer broke. I had to scramble and find another place to work. On another day, my neighbor was playing loud music while I was on a conference call. Sometimes it is hard to manage the freedom that comes with working virtually, and it is easy to misuse your time. There have also been times when I’ve had to go into the office unexpectedly, and the commute wastes valuable on-the-clock time.
Now, faced with expensive office space and less face-to-face client interaction, my division is going the way of becoming fully virtual. What I had previously cautiously asked for will now be an inevitable everyday reality of the job. On the plus side, the company will probably pay for certain expenses, such as my Internet, work cell phone, printer, etc.
Overall I’m not sure whether this is a desirable situation for me. On one hand, it is very convenient and the freedom of not being locked in an office from 9 to 5 is a perk. On the other hand, I am an extremely social person, and not interacting with people may not be the best thing for me, personally or professionally.
In any case, I am thankful to still be employed in this economy — with or without an office. But I guess the grass can always seem greener on the other side.