Don’t miss the office. Rush hour, dressing for success, petty politics. I have not set foot in my company’s headquarters in months. Actually, my company has no headquarters, just a tiny space that suffices as a postal address. The employees sit down for work at their home office, country estate den or coffee house with free Wi-Fi. Whatever. I am one of them.
Back in the 1980s, working from home while holding a legitimate job was considered glamorous and exotic. The fax machine. The coolness of it all. The new utopia. To earn one’s keep without having to leave the user-friendly environment of one’s kitchen or bedroom. Or toilet, because, frankly, who needed to know where exactly a particular report was being prepared?
I would fantasise about that home office. Hair wet and curly from a long shower, hands warm around a chipped porcelain mug, air rich with the aroma of coffee. Look at me, barefoot on the hardwood boards, floating downstairs to my study nook. I even had it styled down to the last detail: soft cashmere PJs and a T-shirt emblazoned with a rhinestone marijuana leaf. To hell with the boring black/beige/blue lady- suit, the sadistic high heels and iron-straightened hair of the accepted professional attire.
It took the best part of 20 years, and a lot more technology than a fax machine. But I did it. I work from home now. I rock. Edit the fantasy: goodbye cashmere PJs. They wear thin in the most embarrassing places if you spend eight hours straight sitting on a kitchen stool. Enter the sweatpants and the wrinkled tee in which I awoke from a perpetually undone bed. I will get to it after I send this email. And wash my hair. And vacuum the carpet. Or not.
The gourmet brew? A cup of instant will do. Oh, and in the Skype age I need to be a little bit more careful with the marijuana tee. Or with that toilet-seat report. Apps and lenses can be ruthless.
The glamour has faded. People don’t even blink when I mention I work from home. Whatever pays a cheque. I belong to the last generation that believed a job was something one had to “go to”. Go see colleagues, bosses, clients. Meet for an after-hours drink. Go about softly speaking in jumbled office lingo, or go home with the secret the temp from the second floor confided to you in the cafeteria line.
I rode the bus downtown last week. Women were slipping out of tall steel buildings for a cigarette break, clad in suits, balancing in high heels. Patent-leather purses, hair ironed straight, make-up discreetly applied. They looked glamorous and exotic, attractive in their structured professional confidence.
The new utopia?
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