Thursday, October 12, 2006

Homework – Or Working From Home

As a consultant, I usually go to my client’s site and work with them in their offices. It involves a lot of traveling all over, from client site to client site, but I get to see how many different companies operate.

Some companies are very corporate, with people in suits and ties, then there are others where blue jeans are the workwear of the office. Some companies have big huge entrance ways, with big reception desks, colorful cafeterias, and warm colors in the halls. Others are dingy, dark and everyone has their teeny-tiny cubicle to hide in while doing their work.

One of my current contracts is a work-from-home gig. This isn’t the first time I have worked from home, but it has been a while. I don’t usually like working from home, I like to separate work life from personal home life. When you work at home, it is all to easy to allow your personal life to invade your work life and vice versa.

Still, there are some advantages to working from home. Although I have a 9am conference call tomorrow, I don’t have to get up extra early to beat rush hour – I’m already at the office when I wake up in the morning. I don’t even have to shower or shave – who’s going to know what I look like at home, while I’m on the phone?

I can take real lunch breaks. Often while working on-site, it is almost impossible to take a full hour-long lunch, as everyone is so busy they just work through lunch. Not when you work from home – I can take the time to cook myself a real meal, and sit down and enjoy it.

That’s another benefit to working from home – home cooking. I do take my lunch to client sites, but often the temptation to eat out is so great, I’ll grab some fast food, or if there is time, go to a sit-in restaurant. Eating out is fun, but can add up if you do it often. And it is nice to cook your own food fresh.

There are some downsides I’m finding to working from home. The big one is I use my own materials to do the work. My own paper spools out of the printer, my own telephone lines to make long distance calls, my own ink cartridges and so on.

But these costs are either expensed to my client, or added into my hourly rate upon calculation of my week’s work. So I make them back – sort of. I still have to go out and buy paper, ink and other supplies, to replace the ones I have used.

It is actually kind of nice working from home. There is none of that office politics to put up with, none of the water cooler gossip, and I don’t have to worry about what I look like while I work – I can type out my work while in nothing more than undies and socks.

Comfy and cozy at the office never had it so good.

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