Friday, November 13, 2009

but how many of them show up in pyjamas?

We either have an infinite capacity for discontent, or we are a species who are hard-wired to crave contact with our own kind.

Recently an office opened in this city which is peopled by freelancers who used to work at home. I scratched my head in bewilderment too when I first heard this, because is that not really the whole point to being a freelancer, to be able to work at home in your underwear, untroubled by icy roads and congested highways? Why on earth would anyone who has the freedom to pop into the kitchen for a snack whenever they want or bring the laptop out to the back yard patio give all that up? Are they insane?

Many of the advantages to working from home are actually a double-edged sword. Sure it's easy to do a load of laundry while you are working, but it's hard to stop there sometimes. So you clean the sink and do some grocery shopping and go for a workout and see what looks good in the fridge and organize the linen closet. And the next thing you know, the sun is setting and that article has still not written itself.

And then of course, there is the little matter of human contact. When you start waiting for the letter carrier and when the cashier at Safeway is starting to feel like your closest friend, you know you need to get out more. And it's difficult to bounce ideas off the cat, regardless of how much she wants to help you type.

I can understand what drives some people to need a centralized place from which to freelance. Ultimately we crave routine, discipline, and human contact. But whenever I find myself disgusted by the fact that I am still in my housecoat at 9:30 in the morning or whenever I start pacing the house talking to myself just to hear a human voice, I simply turn on the traffic report and gloat over the fact that I am not on the Deerfoot. And I always feel better when I can gloat.


Wandering Coyote said...

Well, there are pros and cons to everything, right? Still, I find it odd that these freelancers would need a communal work space like that. Saving on utilities, perhaps? :)

justrun said...

I was just thinking about this today, how I'd stay on top of things working at home. It made me want to start setting up my office (read: stop using it as storage for crap) immediately because I'm worried I may not take myself seriously otherwise.

Remi said...

For all its advantages, I don't think I'd be able to work from home. In addition to the whole being disciplined enough to actually get some work done thing (which I'm not sure I could overcome), I just don't like the idea of letting my work time and home time mix like that. I like the separation that comes with knowing that, once I leave work, I don't have to think about it again until I go back.

Working in pyjamas does sound nice though. . .

rachael chatoor said...

I love working in my housecoat, There is so much to do I can keep pretty motiviated! The internet is great for musicians.
I am fortunate in that my home networking turns into real live social events where I get more than my fair share of human conact and attention, so I kind of feel like I do get the best of both worlds.

I quite like the idea you touched on, of a centralized place for freelancers. Is there such a thing in smaller communitites? So people don't have to travel out of their area?

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I guess the communal workspace serves two functions, Wandering Coyote - human interaction and shared costs. It is telling though, that after a while people need to get back to a more formalized workstyle.

I tend to work all over the house, Justrun and maybe I should rethink that approach. But I do keep all my paperwork in the office, just haul it around with me if I need it.
What is it about home offices that make them such a crap magnet anyway?

Are you actually able to leave work at work, though, Remi? Very few people can truly do that. I blame the internetz!

It really does sound like you have an ideal situation, Rachael - cherish it!
Can you imagine trying to get your music heard before the internet? That must have been so challenging.
This is the first I have heard of one of these communal workspaces. It would be interesting to learn more.

Charlie said...

I agree with Remi. I think there are a lot of people who don't have the discipline or the organization skills to work at home.

As far as my home office, it too is a crap magnet. It looks like a normal person's basement or attic, but since we have neither everything ends up in the "office."

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Just think of it as a mega-sized junk drawer, Charlie, like I do mine, and you'll feel much better about it.

Remi said...

I am very proud of the fact that I'm not important enough to have a blackberry. My work cell phone is only used from 0200 until 0300 on a night shift or 0300-0400 on a day shift.

Apparently, I can check my work email from home. I won't.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I don't have a blackberry either, Remi. In fact I don't even use a cell phone.

But it takes a considerable amount of discipline not to check your work email from home. Well done.

Allison said...

"I always feel better when I gloat." Ha! There are pros and cons, but I like working from home myself. Once the novelty of the distractions wear off I'm usually good to go. Also I think it helps having a nice space to work in be it at home or at work, my productivity is always better when I can spread my crap out over a large desk. :)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

The novelty of distractions are endlessly novel to me, Al. I am amazed that I ever actually get anything done. But yes, a nice big space to be able to see all the relevant files is gravy.

Missy said...

What an interesting space! Work life choices are amazing! I think people have such courage to choose what fits them too. My husband likes his office because he gets a lot more video editing done with out our very social cat hanging around! Poor cat. He could work all night contently if I never nagged him to come home. I do not freelance and am not self employed, I am a happy bureaucrat with one of the best cubes on Earth (solid glass corner view of the Mississippi)and I plow through forms and policy happy in to be around people (I do need my music on very quietly though).

Barbara Bruederlin said...

How does one land a gig with a solid glass corner view of the Mississippi, Missy? I would be utterly content there as well. Now I am all jealous.

But I do like working in my jammies.

Volly said...

I have oddly never felt the desire to work at home (even with my current 72-mile round trip daily commute). Probably an admission of being too disorganized and undisciplined to do it successfully.

On the other hand, I can think of many individuals in my work life who would make me rilly, rilly happy if THEY would work out a telecommuting arrangement for themselves and leave me peacefully alone in my cubicle!