Baltimore, dot-communism, General Chaos

Down the Rabbit Hole of Home Employment

A quick shout-out to seadragon , who’s discovering the joys of working at home. Welcome to the fold of those marginally in touch with the outside world, girl.

I have now been working at home for over 10 years. Now, for two of those, I was spending a week of every month in the company office (in Palo Alto), so it was really only 3/4 working at home, and 1/4 living at the Palo Alto Sheraton from July of 1999 to August of 2001. But still.

I started working from home under less than ideal conditions. I was in the middle of a divorce, living in a one-bedroom apartment and sleeping on a broken-down sofa bed (shared with my two kids three days a week at that time) when I was offered a gig with a national technology magazine. The chance to make something approaching what was at the time real money to me, and ditch the hellish commute to Silver Springs every day from midtown Baltimore, was pretty appealing. There was only one problem: I was going to be running a review lab out of my one-bedroom apartment.

I got a bed, got bunkbeds for my two- and five-year old sons, and got my lease transferred to a basement two-bedroom apartment. The living room became my office, and the “master” bedroom became the living room/bedroom. I only met Paula because I put a personal ad in CityPaper; she affectionaly refers to the dwelling she found me in as “The Pit.”

Then I ended up having the kids full-time, and the rest is social studies.

Working from home dramatically reduces the opportunities for interaction with other humans. Mine is mostly with co-workers over the phone or by IM, or in person with other parents and the teachers at my kids’ schools. I used video conferencing for a while, but then I realized that people I worked with could actually see how pathetic my office looked, so I stopped doing that :-P.

Dressing for work is important. Especially if you take deliveries from FedEx and UPS as much as I do. It’ s bad form to sign for a package after 11:00 am in your…er…sleepwear.

Business trips take on new meaning–they become almost like vacations. The boundaries between the domestic and the professional dissolve…there’s no commute home to clear your head of the BS of the day, so your spouse and family get you back still fully enraged. And there’s the lack of actual physical activity.

But other than that, it’s great.