Workers are Staying Home

My office and my bed are 10 feet apart, which means that my morning commute takes between 15 seconds and one minute, depending on whether I put on pants.

I have amused myself with thoughts of what Cary Grant’s dapperly dressed editor in His Girl Friday would have thought about a weekly newspaper put together by people who needn’t put on more than their skivvies.

He’d be appalled, I bet .

Regardless, the transformative affects of the Internet have allowed myself, and legions of others, the opportunity to work from home.

Some thrive in this environment; some don’t.

I found it tricky at first. My job at What’s Up Yukon was the first such gig and the lack of physical distance between work-space and rest-space rebelled against my psychological conditioning, which insisted that such areas should be separate .

I was easily distracted, occasionally unproductive, and often agitated. More than anything, it was the lack of human interaction that bothered me. I’d grown up believing that work, for all its nuisances, had the virtue of being social. But instead , I was beginning to suffer some insidious form of cabin fever — like Jack Torrance in The Shining, but without the naked bathtub lady.

Recognizing the problem, I would shut the laptop; fling it in the Honda, and head for the valley, hoping to catch a Wi-Fi signal in the downtown breeze.

In my early days this was at least a weekly event .

But as a testament to the adaptability that our species is always bragging about, my frustrations with homework lessened, as did my downtown Wi-Fi binges.

Now, 27 months after my current employment began, I never feel the need to parachute myself into the midst of hustle-and-bustle to get my work done. In fact, working from home seems like a blessing, complete with midday napping infrastructure.

What’s more , anecdotal evidence leads me to believe that my attitudinal trajectory is normal — starting with awkwardness, moving through acceptance, arriving at appreciation.

However, one side effect of this trend towards working where one sleeps is that the line between what-one-does and who-one-is gets blurred. Indeed, the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do at night is check my work email.

And even though this cultural shift is facilitated by avant-garde technology, there is something curiously retro about it.

People’s work and life used to be so intertwined that surnames and occupations were interchangeable (Baker, Mason, Smith).

Now technology appears to be taking us (me , anyway) back to the Middle Ages.

That, Alanis Morrissette, is an irony worth singing about .

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