Though many tout the advantages of having a home office, after three years in mine, I frankly don’t see it. The biggest problem with having a home office is the constant availability and presence of food. Every time I need a break, usually determined bythe passage of about 5 minutes, I head upstairs to the refrigerator. In fact, my husband no longer asks me what happened to last night’s leftovers. He knows. The progression of this problem is evidenced in our house by the collection of desk chairs I have had since my office began. I started out with one of those trim little chairs with no arms and which moves up and down and spins. As the number of work “breaks” increased, so did my backside and I moved on to ever widening types of chairs. Now I just sit on a bench. Amazingly, despite the fact that I find time for 5000 food breaks per day, I somehow never find time to go on the highly expensive treadmill which sits in my office less than 2 feet from the end of my desk.
Another disadvantage to the home office is the “home sounds” which can interfere with my attempts to run a serious business. Frequently I will be on the phone with an attorney from The Other Side, trying to sound tough, when the following exchange will occur:
Me (to attorney from Other Side): Your client is a scum sucking slimeball and they better pay up or else…
Child No. 1 (screeching in my ear): MOOOOOOOOOOOOM! Max is touching my stuff!
Other Side Attorney: Ha Ha. We’ll pay just as soon as Max is done touching her stuff.
The touching of stuff syndrome is a big problem in our house. Though I have tried to control this by removal of all stuff, stuff clones itself until we have more of it than ever. The home sounds problem is also evidenced by times when Lou, the office dog, will arise periodically out of his usual comatose state and bark at an imaginary sound, always during a critical phone conversation. I have started telling people that I work in a bad neighborhood and that sound is the landlord’s guard dog protecting the premises.
One nice thing about working at home is that it is never necessary to shower or get dressed. Aside from the time and money this saves, there is the added benefit that it keeps family members (and everyone else) at a distance. No one asks me anymore what I am making for dinner, because after seeing me they know they would not want to eat anything I made anyway. However, there are drawbacks to this as well. For example, when the UPS guy comes to make a delivery, and I appear looking like the hausfrau from hell, I feel compelled to explain to him that I need this delivery because I am WORKING, because I know he thinks I look this way at 11:00am because I am sitting in front of the tube watching The Price Is Right. Lately I have noticed that he communicates with me by megaphone and leaves my packages at the end of my driveway.
Being at home also means there are constant reminders of things left undone. When I come upstairs from the office for an important break, I can’t fail to see the mound of clean laundry accumulated on the family room couch, and on which a number of animals are sleeping. Some of these critters have been there so long that they have made nests in the laundry, and clothing which was once clean now has the faint smell of corn that animals emit after they have been sleeping for long periods.
I realize that this situation cannot go on much longer. The discipline in my office has started to erode, and I have even sent myself memoranda warning of the consequences if I continue to make numerous personal phone calls and spend time readingand sending humorous emails about George Bush and Al Gore. I plan to go out soon and start looking for office space – just as soon as I shower and get dressed.