Chapter 17. The Boundaries and Benefits of Working at Home
One of the most exciting aspects of technology is its capability to offer unique career options. Of these, one of the most attractive is working from home, or telecommuting.
If managed properly, working from home offers numerous advantages for both employee and employer. These include issues such as family time, reduced commute time, flexible scheduling, and some tax advantages.
So strong was my draw to this lifestyle that I left a company that had made me a partner, paid me a good six figure income, and provided me with a significant staff and budget. My second day home, my wife handed me a book she had found at the library titled The Joy of Working From Home: Making a Life While Making a Living by Jeff Berner.
Opening to the preface, here is what I read...
It's Monday afternoon and I'm writing this in my home office, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean. This morning I made some phone calls, wrote five business letters, and finished a proposal for the next book I'm going to write. Soon I'll walk down the hill to my mailbox and pick up today's correspondence. I'll take a mid-afternoon break with a friend to go bicycling in the countryside and probably wrap up the workday answering phone messages and watering the lawn while most of my peers are creeping along the freeway. My own commute is about ten seconds—from the breakfast table, across the living room, to my desk in the office with the big picture window. I look forward to "going to work" almost every day.
I immediately shot off a message to Jeff, claiming that he had stolen my life and asking if I could have it back. That started a correspondence that continues to this day. I have become somewhat of an evangelist for this lifestyle. It's one that is far less rebellious than it seemed 30 years ago when Jeff started his work-at-home journey.
For some, working at home might not be a viable option, or a combination of telecommuting and standard office work might be necessary.
When I made the decision to leave a traditional company/office environment, a huge part of my decision came down to my desire to work at home. I like to tell people that I married my wife and had children so that I could see them. For too many of my peers, their day consists of departing for a one-hour commute in the morning, putting in a full day at the office, and returning in time to tuck their kids in bed.
The advent of new technologies is rapidly making this option a standard part of the economy. With technologies such as high-speed Internet access, virtual private networks (VPNs), terminal application servers for remote desktop access, and a better understanding of the tools and skills needed to manage the at-home worker, the opportunities for telecommuting will continue to grow.