‘Things about my job I’m thank­ful for’ — top vote-get­ters

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - JOBS & WORK - — Marco Buscaglia, Ca­reers

For many, the op­tion — or re­quire­ment — to work from home makes a huge dif­fer­ence in how much they ap­pre­ci­ate their job. Whether it’s the avoid­ance of a long, stress­ful com­mute, the con­ve­nience of be­ing closer to fam­ily mem­bers or the chance to fo­cus on the tasks at hand in­stead of be­ing both­ered by of­fice gos­sip, it’s usu­ally a top vote-get­ter in any “things about my job I’m thank­ful for” sur­vey.

“I be­gan work­ing from home six years ago and I have to say it has been a life­saver,” says Char­lotte O’Con­nor, an in-house sales rep for a large phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany in Cleve­land. “I was at the end of my rope go­ing into work ev­ery day and deal­ing with not only the of­fice pol­i­tics but also an aw­ful com­mute so I asked my boss if I could work from home two days a week and she ac­tu­ally told me that she was plan­ning on ask­ing me if I wanted to work from home five days a week, so of course, I jumped at the chance.”

O’Con­nor says her work-from-home set­ting, a mod­i­fied closet that’s been trans­formed into a small of­fice, is per­fect. “I don’t like clut­ter and I don’t like noise so it’s per­fect,” she says. “I still come into the of­fice a cou­ple days a month but my com­pany de­cided to down­size from two floors to one floor in our build­ing since we had too much space and it turns out that my tim­ing was per­fect.”

While some work-from-home em­ploy­ees crave con­ver­sa­tion, oth­ers are happy to be separated from their co-work­ers, es­pe­cially those co-work­ers who may be — let’s just say — lack­ing — when it comes to the ap­pro­pri­ate skillset. “Work­ing from home with de­cent pay — of course, it could al­ways be bet­ter — gen­er­ally off­sets the daily neg­a­tive cor­po­rate of­fice en­vi­ron­ment and face-to-face in­ter­ac­tion with in­com­pe­tent co-work­ers,” says a Michi­gan-based sales man­ager, who shares O’Con­nor’s sen­ti­ment.

Cud­dling co-work­ers

For Kurt Wat­son, the re­al­i­ties of work­ing from home means that he puts in more hours — “I feel like I’m al­ways on the clock,” says the 31-year-old staff ac­coun­tant for a Bos­ton cater­ing com­pany — but that does lit­tle to dampen his ap­pre­ci­a­tion for his new work­ing en­vi­ron­ment. Wat­son says now that he works from home, he gets to spend more time with his new­born sons. “We had twins in July,” Wat­son says. “I can hold them while I work, keep an eye on them while they nap and just en­joy be­ing around them. My fa­vorite things is to rest my lap­top be­tween the two cribs and use it as a stand­ing desk.”

Wat­son says his wife, a graphic de­signer, also works from home so it’s easy to han­dle dou­ble duty when one of them has to deal with an is­sue that re­quires to­tal con­cen­tra­tion. “It’s more her than me,” Wat­son says. “Some­times she’s so into fi­nal­iz­ing a project that I’ll take the boys out for a walk or a drive. When she’s in that mode and some­one starts fuss­ing or cry­ing, she gives me looks that kill. But I like my drives and walks with the boys — OK, not in the win­ter so much — and I can usu­ally make a phone call and get things done, so it works out well for me, too.”

Wat­son says he and his wife re­al­ize that their cur­rent setup won’t al­ways work. “Once the twins start ask­ing for things, once they want to keep busy, we’ll have to re-eval­u­ate all of this since it will be im­pos­si­ble to get things done with four of us here, but we’ll see. For now, I’m very thank­ful I get to do this with the peo­ple I love.”

And he says the op­tics can’t be beat. “About an hour ago, I had to get my charger out of our room and my wife was cud­dling with the boys and our dog on the bed — and she was do­ing it while she was on her Blue­tooth and sketch­ing on her iPad,” he says. “When am I ever go­ing to see stuff like that at work when I’m back in an of­fice? I mean, it’s won­der­ful.”

For many, the op­tion — or re­quire­ment — to work from home makes a huge dif­fer­ence in how much they ap­pre­ci­ate their job.

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