Did I Say That? ‘Working’ from home
That was like telling a class of kindergartners, “There’s no Santa Claus,” or proclaiming, “I voted for Donald Trump” at Meryl Streep’s Oscar party. If an undercover agent from the Human Resources Department heard him, the unemployment rate would have increased by .0001 percent.
In this age of Internet enlightenment, we have laptops, tabletops, tablets, broad band, narrow band and flex time, so everyone wants to work from home.
Most telecommuters I know insist they work harder at home than they do in the corporate coal mine, but for me there are too many distractions and even more temptations. The dog wants to play fetch, the UPS man upsets my concentration, and when a package arrives, I have to argue with my wife about the credit card statement.
Pretty soon, it’s lunchtime but instead of going out for a slice of pepperoni pizza, I have to eat the very healthful salad my wife prepared. After the salad and a Snickers bar that I manage to sneak in the bathroom, it’s back to the grind, except that I want to take a nap but I can’t take a nap because I’m on the Bossman’s time and I’m convinced he has secret cameras in our house, installed with the complicity of my wife, or maybe the dog. Sometimes I feel like a prisoner under surveillance in a federal work-release program.
Twenty years ago everyone predicted that telecommuting (aka teleworking) would reduce rush-hour gridlock, cut fuel consumption, and give us more quality time with our kids, dogs and hamsters.
Back then, I was a managing editor, and reporters would insist, “I don’t need to come into the newsroom! I’m more productive at home!” Well, if their productivity in the office was questionable, I deduced their productivity at home would be doubly questionable.
Besides, I wanted them in the newsroom so we could bond, and I could make sure they weren’t shopping online or picking the kids up from soccer practice when they were supposed to be reporting a major breaking news story along the lines of “Bulletin: the mayor is getting a hair transplant.” (Right about now, you’re probably thinking I was one of those “bad bosses” we hear so much about.)
One guy I knew who “teleworked” claimed he was often at the computer until 8 p.m. … until he got laid off, probably because the boss didn’t see enough of him. As someone once said – either Shakespeare or Jack Welch — “Out of sight, out of mind.”
Last week I worked from home, and no one had any appreciation for the fact I was supposed to actually be working. The dog barked nonstop every time the mailman drove by, and he drove by four times, which leads me to conclude he was either lost or should be working from home himself.
Because of the barking, I had to go in the basement for a very important conference call, and at one point someone asked, “Whose dog is barking?” Fortunately, there were several people and family pets on the call, so no one knew it was my dog that was causing the ruckus.
Later, my daughter stopped by and said she had to buy diapers for my grandson, and asked, “Could you watch him while I go to Target?”
“I can't. I’m working, or at least I’m supposed to be working,” I said, but she didn’t quite understand because then she asked if I could go to Target for her since I couldn’t watch the baby.
My wife also thinks that even though I’m working, I should be able to run errands or do chores, such as going to the post office or sweeping the leaves off the deck.
“I can’t,” I said. “I’m working.”
“Well, can you do it during your lunch hour?”
“Lunch hour? I eat at my desk. No one in America has had a lunch hour since 1984.”
“Well, can you eat outside while you sweep off the deck?”
What brilliant logic. That’s why I married her.
Another friend who works from home complained that she was exhausted because she’d been slaving away at her home computer until 9 p.m. to complete a project. Of course, I didn’t believe her. She probably walked the dog, went to have her nails done and stopped by Trader Joe’s to get something for dinner — after going to yoga class.
Contact Joe Pisani at firstname.lastname@example.org.