The Trials and Tribulations of the Telecommuter
The small business section of the New York Times’ website has been running all sorts of interesting content lately, and today it’s featuring a link to a great story from the Home & Garden page about the myriad difficulties of working from home. I’ve been freelancing from a home office for a number of years now, and I’ve got to say, it’s a truly liberating feeling to see an institution as august as the Times taking the side of telecommuter.
Which isn’t to say that working from home isn’t a liberating feeling in and of itself – it certainly is. It’s also the most fun I’ve ever had in my working life, and for someone who treasures the concept of independence as much as I do, it’s definitely a working style I don’t see myself giving up anytime soon. But my experience has always shown that the type of person who works in a corporate office environment — the type of person who has probably never worked from home — isn’t really capable of understanding the unusual challenges that telecommuting tends to offer up. Which is why I wouldn’t necessarily suggest forwarding this link to fellow freelancers, but rather to friends immersed in the 9-to-5 life who seem to be curious about what it is, exactly, that all of us self-employed types do during the day. As the article’s author, Ralph Gardner Jr., writes of the freelance life: “It requires strict self-discipline and an ability to tune out spouses, children and pets. For the more sociable or emotionally needy, it can feel like house arrest, especially if the phone hasn’t rung in a while.”
Also in the Home & Garden department: A fun little feature about the importance of filling a home office with the sort of supplies and furniture that will actually inspire creativity. Seems like an obvious enough concept, but then again, it’s exactly the sort of thing that has always been a rarity in the corporate sector.
Note >> Interested in doing a spot of online office shopping yourself? Check out the ridiculously cool organization and shelving solutions at Design Within Reach, the lighting and furniture for rich people at Moss Online, or the hip and affordable office supplies at Knock Knock, which just happens to be my favorite work solutions company in the entire universe. Then hurry up and get yourself a Seth Godin action figure ($8.95 from Archie McPhee), which, according to the man himself, is fully refundable if its owner does not acquire a significantly better job within 18 months. (I suppose that means I’ll either be filing copy for the AP in Addis Ababa or stringing for the business section of the New York Times in Eastern Europe sometime during the month of July 2009. Bonus!)