Staring Out The Window
The other day somebody asked me how long I have been working from home. I had to pause a moment before realizing that I just recently passed my one year anniversary of getting my own corner office with a great view of my front lawn. It surprised me because it feels so much longer than that. Reflecting on my life now compared to my days working in a cubicle I now realize how many profound changes that decision brought about that I never anticipated back then.
Everyone knows that working from home can save you a lot of money on gas. As gas prices continue to rise almost every year it was certainly one of the big selling points for a decision to move to a home office. What I did not realize is that the decision also cured me of road rage. Yes, I still get impatient when driving, but the anger is really not there any longer. Spending every morning and afternoon stuck in traffic for 30 minutes to an hour really does wear on you. You are already stressed by the time you get to the office after that commute, and there is no room for tolerance for other drivers who may delay your trip by even one second more. When that is part of you daily experience, you can’t help but develop road rage that carries over to even trips to the store or the movies. I do not know when or how the change really came, but driving is much more relaxing now even when I do have to fight the traffic on occasion.
Some other things I have noticed:
- I don’t miss vending machines at all.
- I am no longer oblivious to random sounds around me. Offices are noisy and you get used to it. Home offices can be peacefully quiet, until your neighbor decides to mow his lawn.
- Are the tobacco companies still doing well? I assume thousands of people still take smoke breaks every day, but I don’t see them.
- There are a lot of restaurants I haven’t been to in a long time. I do miss trying something different every few days, but my wallet doesn’t.
- My kids are even more excited when I am done with work, but only because they then get to use the computer for video games.
- Internal Help Desk personnel earn their pay. Fixing my own computer problems is hard. I miss those guys.
- The front of my house can get rather hot in the early afternoon. Who knew?
However, the most important change and the one that has been the most rewarding is the additional time I get to spend with my family. The flexibility I have working from home has allowed me to participate more in the lives of my kids. I now know far more about shows on the various Disney channels, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network than I ever wanted to. On the other hand, I also get to go to soccer practice, help coach the school’s Math Pentathlon team, and attend choir performances.
When you are working the 9-5 routine where you don’t get home for another hour or so because of traffic, you really do not realize what you are missing. You get to hear your kids tell you about what happened, and they understand why you were not able to be there. Now that I have been able to be there for those activities, I have more to talk to them about and I have a better understanding of who they are.
Working from home is still hard work, perhaps even more so as I often only have myself to rely on to get the work done. In the end though the positive changes I have seen in the past year have made it well worth it, and I doubt I can give up this view from my office window any time soon.
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